Researchers Brief Parliamentarians on Neurological Conditions that Cause Significant Economic Burden

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MP Joël Lightbound; Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, President and CEO Research Canada; MP John Oliver, Oakville, Chair of the Health Research Caucus; Dr. Beverly Orser; MP Sonia Sidhu; MP Doug Eyolfson; MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes; MP Carol Hughes, NDP Representative on the Health Research Caucus; and Dr. Charles Bourque.

MP Joël Lightbound; Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, President and CEO Research Canada; MP John Oliver, Oakville, Chair of the Health Research Caucus; Dr. Beverly Orser; MP Sonia Sidhu; MP Doug Eyolfson; MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes; MP Carol Hughes, NDP Representative on the Health Research Caucus; and Dr. Charles Bourque.

Earlier this week, Mr. John Oliver, MP (Oakville), Chair of the Parliamentary Health Research Caucus and Ms. Carol Hughes, MP (Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing), NDP Representative, welcomed two outstanding Canadian neuroscientists to Parliament Hill to brief Parliamentarians on their groundbreaking research.

Dr. Beverley Orser, clinician-scientist and Professor of Physiology and Anesthesia at the University of Toronto and Director of Research at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre and Dr. Charles Bourque, an acclaimed scientist at McGill University, presented at a luncheon before the Health Research Caucus and other Members of Parliament.

In addition to the significance of the Canadian research, Parliamentarians heard a call for greater investigation given the prevalence and cost of neurological conditions to Canadians. When the roughly 50 participants

were asked who were touched personally by a neurological condition, everyone present acknowledged a personal or family experience.

“Parliamentarians learned that one in three Canadians will be affected by a neurological disorder, injury or psychiatric disease in their lifetime,” said Deborah Gordon-El-Bihbety, President and CEO of Research Canada, which co-hosted the event with the Canadian Association for Neuroscience. “For the vast majority of the thousands of conditions that can affect the nervous system, no clear causes or cures are known.”

“Health Canada estimates the economic burden of neurological and psychiatric conditions to represent 14% of the total burden of disease in this country, which is even more than cardiovascular disease or cancer,” said Dr. Freda Miller, President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience. “This problem will be more and more prevalent as life expectancy increases and the population ages.”

Dr. Orser drew Parliamentarians’ attention to the plight of rural and remote communities in emergency situations where an absence of clinicians trained in using anesthesia is putting people’s lives in danger.

Equally important are the discoveries Dr. Orser and her team are making in mitigating the impact of memory loss caused by anesthesia.

Dr. Charles Bourque spoke of his studies into how the brain monitors the ratio of salt to water (fluid osmolality) via special neurons called osmoreceptors. Changes in osmoregulation likely link dietary salt intake to many forms of hypertension as well as heart failure and sepsis.

Both Drs. Bourque and Orser acknowledged the support of the CIHR for their research. “Funding from the CIHR is central to the ongoing success of Canadian researchers, and it is essential for Canada to remain at the forefront of health discovery research,” reminded Ms. Gordon-El-Bihbety.

Other participants at the event included Sanofi Genzyme, Innovative Medicines Canada, Johnson & Johnson, Parkinson Canada, Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec, Abbvie Canada, Medtronic, McGill University Health Centre Research Institute, Neurological Health Charities Canada, Research and Innovation at McGill University, Shift Health, GSK and the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM).

February 17, 2017

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