Dr. Charles Bourque
President, Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Neurological conditions — disorders that affect the brain and nerves — are the leading cause of disability and the second cause of death worldwide. There’s an urgent need to develop innovative treatments and cures for hundreds of diseases and injuries that affect millions of Canadians. Understanding how the brain works is key to addressing this, and it’s a challenge that Canadian researchers from coast to coast are working to overcome.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of fundamental research for addressing complex health issues. Yet fundamental research remains chronically underfunded by the federal government. For several years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has been forced to reject more than 82% of project proposals because of underfunding. Researchers are also struggling with the consequences of lab closures due to the pandemic.
An increased investment in health research is required to support the laboratories and highly-qualified personnel who could make life-changing discoveries.
Recent discoveries by young Canadian researchers have shed light on the mechanisms of memory, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s disease, and have procured new therapeutic approaches for devastating conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Discoveries such as these, as well as new breakthroughs, stem from years of research to understand the basic science of how the brain works. To meet the growing challenge posed by neurological conditions, the Canadian government needs to significantly increase its funding for health research. It’s an investment in Canada’s health and prosperity now, and for the future.