News Release Article from  Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Government of Canada supports leading research in women's brain health

Partners announce the Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health and Aging

March 8, 2016—Ottawa, ON

In recognition of International Women's Day, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced the launch of a new research initiative focusing on women's brain health. The initiative—created through a partnership between the Posluns Family Foundation, the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)—will provide financial support over the next ten years under the name of the Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health and Aging.

The Chair will support an outstanding researcher working in the field of brain health. The Chair holder will conduct research that accounts for ways in which gender and sex—that is, social and biological influences—can affect brain health and aging. Women today suffer from depression, stroke and dementia twice as much as men, and an astounding 70% of new Alzheimer's patients are women. The Chair holder will consider these differences between the sexes and will work toward understanding how addressing those differences could lead to better treatment options for Alzheimer's and related dementias.

The Chair holder will be chosen through a competitive, peer-reviewed process and will ultimately be based at an academic institution in Ontario. Researchers will be able to apply through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

About the Chair

The Chair will be a researcher of exceptional merit, recruited across Canada or abroad, or a top researcher already established in an Ontario institution who is a leader in her/his field. The goal of the Chair Program is to enhance the understanding of gender and sex differences in brain health.


"This type of research points us in the right direction as we try to improve the lives of people whose lives are affected by dementia and Alzheimer's, and could provide clues about the best ways to prevent these diseases entirely. I am proud to see federal, provincial, non-profit and private partners come together to support the creation of a Chair for such exceptional and important research."

The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

"It has become increasingly apparent in recent years that we need to account for sex and gender influences in health research. Men and women are similar in many ways, but when it comes to our health, our differences matter. By understanding these differences in brain health—such as why more women are affected by Alzheimer's than men, which cannot be accounted for by the greater longevity in women—we can work toward better treatments for everyone. We are very proud to support the Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health and Aging, which will lead to valuable research evidence to benefit the research community and people affected by dementia."

Dr. Yves Joanette
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aging

"As the Posluns Family Foundation takes on this initiative, we are tremendously encouraged to have such leading organizations eager to take part and we welcome their participation. The partnership and research Chair position shows we have reached a tipping point in which we must address differences between male and female brain health research and that we need to find answers to progress women's brain health. We anticipate that our work together is a significant move in the right direction to finding solutions."

Lynn Posluns
Founder and President of Women's Brain Health Initiative (WBHI)

"We're tremendously excited to be part of the Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health and Aging through our Alzheimer Society Research Program. This first-of-a-kind Chair will shine more light on diseases like dementia that largely impact women. Furthering our understanding of women's brains may lead to the development of more effective treatments, preventative measures, and ultimately a cure. This new initiative will benefit everyone living with dementia. With a better understanding of women's brains, we might be able to treat dementia more effectively, prevent it altogether and eventually find a cure."

Mimi Lowi-Young
CEO at the Alzheimer Society of Canada

"As seen in the various areas that OBI focuses on, we know that brain disorders can affect men and women differently with regards to how disorders present themselves and how they are experienced by an individual.  We also know that some brain disorders are more prevalent in women than men, for example, Alzheimer's disease. We are proud to be part of this group of partners who are acting on the growing evidence which shows that a better understanding of sex and gender differences will lead to better brain health for everyone. The important work carried out by this new Chair will be poised for maximum impact as it fits into other key research initiatives being driven by OBI and partners."

Dr. Tom Mikkelsen
President and Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute


David Coulombe
Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(613) 941-4563

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

The Posluns Family Foundation is a private charitable foundation established by the Posluns Family. The Foundation distributes funds for religious, charitable and educational purposes, and in pursuit of those purposes, supports health care programs, medical research, community organizations, educational institutions, and other organizations and agencies making a difference locally and abroad.

The Ontario Brain Institute is a provincially-funded, not-for-profit research institution seeking to maximize the impact of neuroscience and establish Ontario as a world leader in brain research, commercialization and care. Convergent partnerships are created between researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to foster discovery and deliver innovative products and services that improve the lives of those living with brain disorders.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Active in communities across Canada, the Society offers help for today through our programs and services, and hope for tomorrow by funding research into the cause, prevention and a cure.

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