The Molson Foundation has generously invested one million into brain aging research and knowledge transfer at the Douglas.

This is a most prescient gift. By 2030, more than 750,000 Canadians will suffer some form of dementia – about one and a half times the population of Quebec City. The impact of these cases will be measured in rising health care costs, but it will be experienced by those affected and their families.

A major challenge faced by doctors is that, by the time a person first starts noticing memory loss, about 60 to 70% of the brain cells affected by Alzheimer’s are already dead. There are no drugs that can reverse the damage.

Prevention and early detection for better outcomes

“It is imperative we not wait for others to find solutions. We must take action now and invest in what is becoming an enormous health problem,” emphasizes Judes Poirier, PhD, CQ, a global expert on Alzheimer’s and the Associate Director of the Douglas’ Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease – the first of its kind in Canada and an international hub of Alzheimer’s discoveries.

The Centre brings together a dozen of the most talented brains in the field, including Director John Breitner, MD, who was recruited from the US by the Douglas.

Poirier’s research team has already identified the first genetic risk factor involved in the common form of Alzheimer’s. Now, he and other scientists at the Centre are trying to prevent the disease before it cause irreversible damage. “We are testing five prevention factors that have already shown promise: anti-inflammatory drugs, inhaled insulin, physical exercise, cognitive training activities, and certain heart medications,” explains Dr. Poirier.

Our researchers are also looking for ways to detect Alzheimer’s in its early stages, so that they can intervene promptly. For this purpose, they are leveraging the MRI technology at the Douglas’ Brain Imaging Centre. They are comparing brain scans of individuals with and without a family history of Alzheimer’s (a known risk factor for developing the disease) at different periods in time.

Natasha Rajah, PhD
, the Imaging Centre’s Director, is the first Molson Fellow in Healthy and Successful Aging.

Collaborating for better, quicker results and more impact

Our researchers are working tirelessly to help the countless families that will be affected by Alzheimer’s. They are on the cusp of a breakthrough. But, they cannot do it alone…

That’s why a part of the Molson Foundation’s contribution has been used to set up the Molson Knowledge Exchange Fund. Douglas scientists can share their latest findings with other prominent experts in the field; these experts will, in turn, share theirs.

This fund brings together the best minds in Alzheimer’s research. By working as a community, they can accelerate discoveries and pave the way for major breakthroughs. Their collaboration is making Alzheimer’s prevention more feasible – so that future generations will not have to suffer needlessly.

The Douglas Institute Foundation thanks the Molson Foundation for recognizing the urgency to prevent Alzheimer’s and investing in the healthy brain aging of Canadians.

Photos from top: 1. Judes Poirier, PhD, CQ, Associate Director of the Douglas’ Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease; 2. Natasha Rajah, PhD, Director of the Brain Imaging Centre and Molson Fellow in Healthy and Successful Aging; 3. Dr. John Breitner, Director of the Centre for Studies on Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease