Holland Bloorview recently launched a campaign to raise $25 million for Holland Bloorview’s Research Institute. Dr. Tom Chau, Vice President of Research, can see Holland Bloorview taking a big leap forward as a world leader in childhood disability research with the growth of the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI). He sees the BRI generating research that will have a profound effect on care, policy, advocacy and teaching in Canada and around the world.
The BRI Growth Strategy is a $25 million fundraising campaign to give the BRI the funding, equipment and support it needs to stand tall on the world stage of childhood disability research. This investment would be used to add space for cutting-edge equipment, as well as the hiring of 10 new internationally-recognized scientists and state-of-the-art discovery hubs in machine learning and artificial intelligence, imaging, and neuromodulation.
We’ve outgrown our space and resources, said Dr. Chau.
We’ve received grants to bring in equipment and conduct studies and we don’t have the space to make it happen. The growth in the BRI, made possible by community donors, will allow the team to make transformational discoveries in fields such as brain imaging, autism, concussion, social participation and inclusion, and communication technologies. .
One area that’s generating a lot of buzz is the work of Dr. Deryk Beal, who is exploring the effectiveness of neuromodulation technology. This involves administering small electric or magnetic energy pulses to specific parts of the brain, triggering pathways that can potentially accelerate learning in areas such as language. “Five, ten years down the road, children will be learning skills we never thought possible given their diagnosis, because we can directly manipulate the brain for learning new skills,” said Dr. Chau.
However, in order for Dr. Beal to properly pursue this field, he needs a fully accessible, child-friendly research MRI. “Such a device will not only help Dr. Beal, it will attract other research pioneers investigating the neurobiology of brain disorders, the mechanisms of injury and recovery, neurodiversity, and other areas,” said Dr. Chau.
An MRI would also open exciting doors in the field of autism, which has Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou rubbing her hands with excitement. An MRI could help her better understand precisely what area of the brain is responsible for social behavior and identify the brain’s pathways for social cognition. It could also help her learn more about how medications affect the brain in kids with autism and help her better understand brain function in order to identify which kids are best suited for specific types of treatment.
And that’s what is so exciting for Dr. Chau – working alongside top talent like Dr. Beal and Dr. Anagnostou, while attracting more scientists who possess exciting new skills and areas of expertise. It will enable the BRI to put knowledge into practice like never before and be instrumental in creating the most meaningful futures for kids with disabilities. “If we don’t advance now, we’re going to lose our edge quickly,” said Dr. Chau. “That’s why this growth strategy is critical.”