CFI awards Faculty of Medicine, Heart Institute $5.8M through 2020 Innovation Fund

Faculty of Medicine
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
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Faculty of Medicine’s Hub of Excellence for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research is Canada’s first multi-disciplinary, multi-specialty research group investigating the shared mechanisms underlying heart, brain, and mind health challenges. 

Today, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awarded the Hub of Excellence for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research Project (HCNMR), spearheaded by Dr. Ruth Slack and Dr. Peter Liu, upwards of $5.8M through the 2020 Innovation Fund. This contribution affords the HCNMR to continue its important work to “unlock brain-heart connections,” deliver new tools for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and transform patient care for millions of Canadians.

The Hub of Excellence for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research, hosted at the University of Ottawa, is Canada’s first multi-disciplinary, multi-specialty research group investigating the shared mechanisms underlying heart, brain, and mind health challenges. The research team includes leading experts in neuroscientific, cardiovascular, vascular, psychiatric and technology research at the UOHI, the uOBMRI, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, the Bruyère Research Institute, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre affiliated with the University of Toronto, and other prominent research institutions across Canada. 

The objectives of the project are five-fold: 

  • To improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of concurrent brain-heart-mind conditions through accelerated collaboration.
  • To identify the common mechanisms involved in heart failure, depression, and cognitive impairment, and to develop tools for improved diagnosis and therapies. 
  • To investigate the linkages amongst atrial fibrillation, stroke, and cognitive impairment, and expound underlying mechanisms, risk predictors, and mitigation strategies. 
  • To define how sex differences impact disease interactions and to develop interventions with optimal effectiveness for all individuals. 
  • To transform the patient care approach by treating brain-heart conditions as a whole and pioneer a patient-centred NeuroCardiac Care Model.

“Individually, cardio-neuro-mind diseases are deadly and disabling, yet major linkages between these conditions have long been overlooked. With this tremendous support from CFI, the HCNMR team will investigate the shared mechanisms underlying these complex health challenges,” said Dr. Peter Liu, chief scientific officer and vice-president of research at the UOHI. “We are grateful to continue our work with the ultimate goal of transforming care for patients with co-occurrence of these devastating conditions, including heart failure, cognitive impairment, atrial fibrillation, stroke, depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.”

“Current medical practice treats brain-heart conditions as siloed entities, with limited awareness of their tight interactions in pathogenesis, shared risk factors, mutual regulation, and potential shared solutions,” said Ruth Slack, PhD, director of uOBMRI. “Together we are now poised to address this knowledge gap and seek innovative solutions to improve patient care.”

Other team members include Dr. Sandra Black, Dr. Georg Northoff, and Dr. Katey Rayner.

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The University Of Ottawa Brain And Mind Research Institute Development Fund financially supports the uOBMRI’s priorities.

Dr. Ruth Slack