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Ottawa researchers key to new neuromuscular disease care and research network

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.

Contact: Adrienne Vienneau
613-737-7600 x4144
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

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