Ottawa researchers key to new neuromuscular disease care and research network

June 13, 2014

OTTAWA, June 12, 2014 - The University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Muscular Dystrophy Canada have announced the launch of the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Network. Four co-principal investigators in this national network are Ottawa-based: Dr. Bernard Jasmin, Dr. Rashmi Kothary, Dr. Jodi Warman and Dr. Hugh McMillan.

"The network is a critical initiative that will organize the efforts to improve clinical care and advance research in neuromuscular disease with expertise from around the country," says Dr. Bernard Jasmin, vice-dean research at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine. "That almost half of the team's principal investigators are from Ottawa is a testament to the strength in neuromuscular research and neurosciences in this region."

Dr. Jasmin and Dr. Rashmi Kothary, deputy scientific director of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, are basic science researchers. Dr. Jodi Warman, a neurologist at the Ottawa Hospital and a neurogeneticist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), and Dr. Hugh McMillan, a child neurologist at CHEO, are both clinicians who carry out translational research and clinical trials.

The new network hopes to empower patients and families through improved access to needed information and resources, along with a patient portal to connect with each other. In addition, the network plans to enhance the delivery of clinical care, increase capacity and collaboration, and improve training opportunities for researchers and clinical care providers.

Neuromuscular diseases as a group include over 150 different conditions, including muscular dystrophies, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease). These diseases result in weakness and physical disability due to damage to muscle and nerve tissue.

"While neuromuscular diseases are rare in individuals, they affect a group of many Canadians," says Dr. Lawrence Korngut, network chair, a researcher in the University of Calgary Department of Clinical Neurosciences and a member of the HBI. "Partnering with the patient community is the only way forward for developing and testing potential treatments. Enhanced collaboration between researchers and clinicians across the country will improve both the effectiveness of research investments and the translation of this research from bench to bedside."

The network is the product of a $575,613 CIHR Network Catalyst grant from the CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis and a $155,820 contribution from Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
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University of Ottawa:

The University of Ottawa is committed to research excellence and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, which attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world. The University is an important stakeholder in the National Capital Region's economic development, with a total regional economic impact estimated at $4 billion annually.

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa is a national leader in medical education and health research, ranking second in Canada since 2010 for research intensity in medicine and science (Maclean's). Since 2003, the Faculty has the third-highest growth rate for Canadian Institutes of Health Research funding for universities with medical schools.

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute:

The CHEO Research Institute coordinates the research activities of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and is affiliated with the University of Ottawa. Its three programs of research include molecular biomedicine, health information technology and evidence to practice research. Key themes include cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental health, emergency medicine, musculoskeletal health, electronic health information and privacy, and the genetics of rare disease. The CHEO Research Institute makes discoveries today for healthier kids tomorrow.

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute:

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is the research arm of the Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with its faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

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