Research

Research at the uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute

There are 100 trillion connections between neurons in the human brain, grouped together into billions of distinct networks in which brain cells work together at the speed of thought. The brain can also be quite adaptive and malleable (plastic), which provides hope for therapies. However, very little is known about the interconnected webs of cells that form the brain's fundamental architecture.

How do brain cells work together? How does this change as a result of disease?

We seek to answer these questions and determine how protective, regenerative and restorative strategies—including pharmacotherapy, gene therapy, exercise and deep brain stimulation—improve brain circuit function in patients with brain disorders.

By understanding and manipulating brain connectivity in meaningful ways, we can develop effective treatments for neurological disorders.

The ultimate goal of uOBMRI is to incorporate and represent all brain- and mind-related activities in a cohesive fashion. In consultation with our stakeholders and the uOBMRI Scientific Council, the institute has generated a multiphase plan of action with the initial focus on the following areas of strength and expertise.

Concussion

Concussion

Eliminate the Wait by offering timely access to appropriate information and guidance for those with concussion   injury. This will include proactive and reactive measures, such as refining the predictive algorithms based upon patient symptoms and tests of who are at risk for more debilitating symptoms and developing  sensitive tests to  determine when normal activity can be resumed

Memory & Cognition

Memory & Cognition

In 2016, the leading memory and cognition researchers in Ottawa including from The Bruyère Research Institute formed the uOBMRI-Memory and Cognition Group (MCG) to systematically research the underlying mechanisms of the cognitive decline, unravel memory loss processes, discover innovative ways to stop and heal cognitive decline and improve delivery of care at our partnering hospitals. Alongside the basic scientists that examine the fundamentals of memory and cognitive processing, the mechanisms of degeneration, stress and cognitive decline, neural dynamics and circuitry in memory and cognition; the MCG also includes critical mass of clinical researchers focusing on drug trials in dementia geriatric, psychiatry geriatrics, and primary care for dementia-related prevention and care. The latter is particularly important since it would positively impact outcome and quality of life of each patient while driving down the hefty price tag dementia, and especially Alzheimer’s, inflict on Canadian society and economy.

Mental Health Services and Medical-Psychiatric Comorbidities

Mental Health Services and Medical-Psychiatric Comorbidities

The Mental Health (MH) Pillar has two goals: 

  1. Getting the Right Care to People When They Need It: The health services researchers in the uOBMRI focus on creating exciting new methods to address problems in the MH care delivery system, working to improve access to evidence-based care for all ages of patients, no matter where they live. If our children, youth, and adults cannot access care, they cannot take advantage of new treatments that have been developed and our goal is to address this problem
  2. Improving the Health of Our Patients:  MH and physical health are intertwined and each affects the other. The uOBMRI researchers working on this goal are addressing problems such as the increased risk for heart disease in people who have chronic, severe MH problems or how exercise and diet affect MH problems, looking for new treatments and investigating mechanisms such as inflammation.
Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition where patients face recurrent episodes of disability that come and go (relapses and remissions) as well as the prospect of significant and progressive permanent disability.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Group: The uOBMRI MS Group was founded in order to systematically research the underlying mechanisms of MS, unravel regeneration processes, develop new approaches for treatment and implement innovative rehabilitation processes at our partnering hospitals in Ottawa. With the belief that a collaborative approach is key, the group features members with a wide range of interests and expertise

Neuromuscular disease

Neuromuscular Disease

Neuromuscular diseases (NMDs) represent a broad group of more than 150 genetic and acquired disorders, many causing disability and even premature death through progressive muscle wasting. Collectively, NMDs affect over 1 million people in Canada and the United States.

Neural dynamics

Neural dynamics

Central nervous system function is managed by sophisticated and dynamic sets of neuron networks and circuits that regulate brain function. These highly active and tightly controlled circuits in turn instruct all behavioural and cognitive outputs of the brain, including movement, mood and memory...

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease affects 10 million people worldwide. It is a devastating neurodegenerative condition that leads to slowness of movement and rigidity and, in a large proportion of patients, depression and dementia. Currently, while there are strategies to alleviate early motor symptoms, there is no cure...

Stroke

Stroke

In 2015, the leading stroke researchers in Ottawa established the SRC-uOBMRI in order to systematically research the underlying mechanisms of injury, unravel regeneration processes, develop new approaches to optimize recovery and implement innovative rehabilitation processes at our partnering hospitals in Ottawa.  Among the successes of the consortium thus far:

  • Established a comprehensive center focused on the science of stroke and the mechanisms that contribute to successful functional recovery.
  • Recruited the best scientists from various domains within stroke research. Only recently we welcomed two highly sought after scientists: Dr. Baptiste Lacoste who is a specialist in vascular plasticity and Dr. Simon Chen a specialist in motor learning.
  • Facilitated the development of forward-looking treatments for stroke. In this regards, we are particularly proud of Drs. Dowlatshahi and Lum, uOBMRI members who played a leading role in the development of revolutionary treatment that reduces stroke-induced mortality rates by 50% while ensuring better quality of life to survivors. This is indeed a game changing treatment which will impact stroke care worldwide.
  • Develop RecoverNow, a progressive stroke rehabilitation approach
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