Alzheimer Society of Canada Funds $1.2 Million in Research

The Alzheimer Society announced August 18th a commitment of over $1.2 million to further the cause of Alzheimer research in Canada. Since 1989, the Society has funded both biomedical and psychosocial research in an effort to find a cause and cure for the disease and find improved methods of caregiving and delivering services to people affected by Alzheimer Disease (AD).

Dr. Marilyn Miller of McGill University in Montreal is one of the 20 researchers across Canada receiving funding. Dr. Miller is investigating the role that estrogen plays in AD. Alzheimer Disease affects more women than men and affected women score lower than men in performance scores. Previous research has indicated that women given estrogen replacement therapy showed improved cognitive function. Dr. Miller seeks to determine why this occurs and whether estrogen could be used as a treatment for the disease.

In an effort to enhance care for those with AD, Dr. Marian Campbell of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg will use her grant to research eating and feeding issues of people with AD. Those with the disease are at risk of malnutrition and weight loss because of under consumption of food and liquids. Eating-related difficulties contribute to these problems and can make meals difficult and emotionally taxing for both the caregiver and the person with the disease. Dr. Campbell's research will examine the challenges encountered and strategies used by caregivers in the home to determine how food preparation, environmental adaptations and the promotion of independence in eating can enhance the eating experience of people with AD.

Other projects the Society is funding include research on the role of anti-inflammatory drugs, amyloid-beta protein, managing challenging behaviours and reducing vehicle crash injuries.

While the Society's $1 million commitment to research is significant, Alzheimer research in general remains severely underfunded. "There is such potential for Alzheimer research in this country; Canadians are leaders in Alzheimer research", says Dr. Peter Scholefield, Chair of the Research Policy Committee of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. "Unfortunately, funding is not keeping up with the need. Especially with the aging baby boom population, there is an urgent and immediate need for more Alzheimer research funding."

Funding for the Joint Alzheimer Society Research Program includes contributions from provincial and local Alzheimer Societies across Canada, individuals, and corporations including key leadership gifts from Bayer Healthcare, Extendicare Health Services and the Royal Bank of Canada Charitable Foundation.

For a complete listing of the 1998-1999 research grants and awards, look under "Research", then "Research Program" on the Alzheimer Society of Canada Web site: or call Debbie Krulicki at (416) 488-8772 ext. 232.