Harper Government Invests in National Initiative to Tackle Dementia

CIHR and partners launch the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging a collaborative research program focused on tackling the challenge of dementia and other neurodegenerative illnesses

MONTREAL, Sept. 10, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today announced the launch of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), a national initiative aimed at tackling the growing onset of dementia and related illnesses and improving the lives of Canadians with these illnesses, as well as their families and caregivers.

Led by Dr. Howard Chertkow, a cognitive neurologist and co-founder and director of the Jewish General Hospital / McGill Memory Clinic, the CCNA brings together 20 research teams and experts from across Canada to focus research on three themes:

  • delaying the onset of dementia and related illnesses
  • preventing these illnesses from occurring
  • improving the quality of life of Canadians living with these illnesses and their caregivers

The CCNA is supported with funding of $31.5M over five years from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a group of 13 partners from the public and private sectors, including the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. The CCNA researchers will also benefit from an additional $24M investment by a subset of the partners in Ontario and Quebec.

Minister Ambrose made the announcement ahead of the Canada-France Global Legacy Event to be held in Ottawa, September 11 and 12. The event will bring together 200 experts from G7 countries and focus on building global academic-industry partnerships and promoting innovation in dementia prevention, treatment and care.

The CCNA is headquartered in the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital.

Quick Facts

  • Dementia is a major global public health issue. In 2011, an estimated 747,000 Canadians were living with Alzheimer's or other dementias. By 2031, it is estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have dementia, costing the Canadian economy nearly $300 billion per year.
  • The Government of Canada provided the funding to create the CCNA in Economic Action Plan 2014. The CCNA delivers on the Government's commitment in the Speech from the Throne 2013 to renew investments in health research to tackle dementia and related illnesses.
  • The CCNA builds on Canada's international research collaborations carried out since 2009 through CIHR's International Collaborative Research Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease.
  • Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested over $860 million through CIHR to support the work of Canadian researchers in the field of neuroscience. Of that amount, $182 million supported research that is improving our understanding of dementia and guiding improvements in its prevention, diagnosis and care.

"Our Government is proud to be making this significant investment to face the global dementia challenge with over fourteen provincial, public and private partners. The large consortium announced today will accelerate innovative and collaborative research to make a difference in the quality of life and the quality of services for Canadians affected by these diseases. With the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, we are joining forces with our international counterparts to support additional research with a view to finding a cure for dementia by 2025."
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"Incredible strides in dementia research have been made over the last decade, but the CCNA recognizes the urgency to create highly effective collaborative research networks to fast-track progress and find solutions in this field. Integrating the perspectives of different stakeholders such as research users, policymakers, patients and families is imperative to ensure positive outcomes. On behalf of CIHR, I wish to congratulate the world-class cadre of researchers who have mobilized to work under the CCNA banner to take dementia research to a completely new level."
Dr. Alain Beaudet
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

"Neurodegeneration that occurs during aging is a complex problem of high importance to society. This serious issue requires multidimensional approaches in research and social policy to resolve. The Consortium recognizes those needs, and it allows leading researchers to focus on the problem from many perspectives. The Alberta Prion Research Institute is pleased to be a partner in this important national undertaking."
Dr. Kevin Keough
Executive Director, Alberta Prion Research Institute

"As the leading research charity in the UK, we are delighted to continue our programme of funding the very best in international dementia research through our support of the CCNA. The consortium represents the kind of innovative public, private and philanthropic partnership that can help new ideas in research become benefits for people with dementia around the world. As G7 leaders meet in Canada, CCNA represents an exciting model for collaboration that will be of great interest to other nations." 
Dr. Eric Karran
Director of Research, Alzheimer's Research UK

"The Alzheimer Society of Canada is excited to be a leading non-governmental partner of the CCNA. This first-of-its-kind initiative is an extraordinary opportunity to bring together Canada's brightest minds in neurodegenerative research and will lead to better care, prevention and treatment for Canadians living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. The CCNA will help foster innovation in research and holds great potential for finding the cause and cure for neurodegenerative diseases."
Mimi Lowi-Young
CEO, Alzheimer Society of Canada     

"The Canadian Nurses Foundation is extremely excited about the opportunity to partner in the groundbreaking, first- of-its-kind CCNA initiative.  With Canada's aging population and a critically rising incidence of dementia, the CCNA provides the opportunity to bring together acclaimed research teams to help find innovative solutions that will enable Canadians and their families to have access to better and more cost-effective care."
Christine Rieck Buckley
Executive Director, Canadian Nurses Foundation

"The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) is delighted to be partnering with the Consortium to address the challenges of Alzheimer's and an aging population, which are a major public health concern. We are particularly proud to see Dr. Howard Chertkow, a distinguished researcher from Quebec, assume the leadership of the Consortium. Dr. Chertkow is with the widely renowned Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of Jewish General Hospital, a research centre supported by the FRQS."
Dr. Renaldo Battista
Scientific Director, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé

"The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is proud to support the efforts of BC researchers who are leading nationwide teams focused on unravelling the mysteries of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.  Collaboration between excellent researchers, patients and care providers will help us find solutions to this devastating health issue affecting tens of thousands of Canadians and their families."
Dr. Diane Finegood
President and CEO, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

"The mandate of the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation is to provide leadership and support to build health research capacity, improve the health of New Brunswickers - considering that 29% of our population will be above 65 years old within 15 years - and advance the knowledge economy. By participating in this national research endeavour, we will enable the development of memory clinics in primary care settings, therefore accelerating clinical assessments and access to neuropsychological assessment tools. In addition, this is another collaborative process to develop imaging protocols, bio-banking protocols for blood samples and brain banking and advance the care of individuals and families affected by - or at risk of - developing Alzheimer and other neurodegenerative diseases."
Dr. Bruno Battistini
CEO, New Brunswick Health Research Foundation

"Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of seniors of any province – therefore, the care of the elderly, including the challenges presented by dementia, is a priority for provincial decision-makers. The Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation is excited to be a partner of this important initiative."
Krista Connell
CEO, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation

"The CCNA's efforts to promote high-impact, inter-institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration through a pan-Canadian approach is precisely the kind of support that we—at OBI—believe researchers need."
Dr. Donald T. Stuss
President & Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute

"I am enthused by the CCNA's vision of collaboration—this research enterprise represents an important opportunity for many of Canada's best researchers to work together to tackle dementia, which is becoming a global social and healthcare challenge due to our aging human population."
Dr. Sandra Black
Brill Chair of Neurology, Sunnybrook, University of Toronto, Executive Director, Toronto Dementia Research Alliance, Senior Ontario Brain Institute/CCNA Researcher

"The Robin and Barry Picov Family Foundation is excited to participate as a partner of the CCNA through the auspices of the Women's Brain Health Initiative. In addition to better understanding the impact of brain-aging diseases on both men and women, our hope is that the research proposed will result in better treatment and, ideally, innovative prevention strategies, for all neurodegenerative diseases in aging."
Barry Picov
Co-founder, Robin and Barry Picov Family Foundation

"Sanofi applauds the CIHR and all of the CCNA partners for taking this important step in tackling dementia and related diseases, which affect millions of people both in Canada and around the world. We are proud to be the consortium's only global R&D biopharmaceutical partner, which means the discoveries developed through the CCNA serve not only Canadians but people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases worldwide. We are committed to supporting transformative research that will help us better understand the causes of these illnesses, with the ultimate goal of improved prevention and treatment."
Franca Mancino
Vice-President of Medical and Regulatory Affairs, Sanofi Canada

"We are extremely pleased to partner with CIHR and others on this vital initiative. Research on neurodegeneration in aging remains a high priority for the government of Saskatchewan and this partnership allows SHRF to leverage and share a wealth of expertise in the neurosciences, Alzheimer's and dementia-related research, and health services in rural and remote areas.  We thank CIHR for leading the formation of the CCNA and providing SHRF the opportunity to help advance research in an area so critical to the health of all Saskatchewan residents."
Patrick Odnokon
Interim CEO, Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation

"Women represent 62% of dementia cases and 70% of new Alzheimer's cases, putting them at the epicenter of a growing health issue. In addition to this, women are nearly twice as likely as men to succumb to dementia and two-and-a-half times more likely to be providing care for someone with the disease. Up until now, gender-based research in this field has been severely limited and past studies have inadequately addressed these discrepancies. With the CCNA, Canada is now taking a leadership position to ensure gender differences are now part of the ongoing discussion among researchers in this area. This will be important to helping us better understand the unique risks for the two sexes, why differences exist, what the different outcomes are and whether they should be treated differently."
Lynn Posluns
President, Women's Brain Health Initiative

"The CCNA will bring together over 300 researchers in Canada who have been working hard for a cure for neurodegenerative diseases. By supplying an infrastructure, shared research platforms, national research teams, and a cohesive research agenda, we hope to accelerate our current progress towards new treatments, better understanding of Alzheimer's disease and associated diseases, improved quality of life for our patients and their families, and eventually the cures for these conditions. Canadian researchers will – even more than they do already - begin to play a prominent role on the world stage in the global fight against dementia. The CCNA will be transformative, and offers real hope of a better life for those living with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases."
Dr. Howard Chertkow
CCNA Scientific Director

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The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,200 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

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Fact Sheet

Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging

The vision of the CCNA is to bring together 20 research teams involving over 340 top Canadian researchers in the field of neurodegenerative diseases affecting cognition such as Alzheimer's in a collaborative and synergistic space. Researchers will work on bold and transformative research ideas to make a difference in the quality of life and the quality of services for those living with dementia and their caregivers.

To promote high impact, the CCNA will include inter-institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration. Researchers will work with key stakeholders such as patients and their families.

What areas of research will the CCNA support?

Research within the CCNA will be organized around three research themes aimed at preventing and mitigating the toll of dementia and related neurodegenerative diseases of aging for individuals and society.

The three themes are:

  • Primary Prevention – aimed at preventing the disease from developing;
  • Secondary Prevention – focused on delaying the clinical manifestations of the already developing disease; and
  • Quality of Life – designed for helping individuals, caregivers and the health system in the context of a clinically developed disease.


The CCNA is a $31.5M investment from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and many important partners. The CCNA researchers will also benefit from an additional $24M investment by a subset of the partners in Ontario and Quebec.

  • CCNA funding partners:


Alberta Prion Research Institute


Alzheimer's Research UK


Alzheimer Society of Canada


Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Canadian Nurses Foundation


Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé

Pfizer Canada


Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research


New Brunswick Health Research Foundation


Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation


Ontario Brain Institute


Robin and Barry Picov Foundation




Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation


Women's Brain Health Initiative



SOURCE: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information: Michael Bolkenius, Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Health, 613-957-0200; Media Relations, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 613-941-4563, mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca


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