NOSM Researcher Participating in $55.5M National Dementia Initiative

NOSMWednesday, September 10, 2014, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, announced the launch of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), a national initiative aimed at tackling the growing onset of dementia and related illnesses and improving the lives of Canadians with these illnesses and their families and caregivers.
Led by Dr. Howard Chertkow, a cognitive neurologist and co-founder and director of the Jewish General Hospital / McGill Memory Clinic, the CCNA brings together 20 research teams and experts from across Canada to focus research on three themes: delaying the onset of dementia and related illnesses; preventing these illnesses from occurring; and, improving the quality of life of Canadians living with these illnesses and their caregivers.
The CCNA is supported with funding of $31.5 million over five years from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and a group of 13 partners from the public and private sectors, including the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. The CCNA researchers will also benefit from an additional $24 million investment by a subset of the partners in Ontario and Quebec.

Dementia Care Research in Northern Ontario

Dr. Kristen Jacklin, NOSM Associate Professor, Medical Anthropology, is one of 47 principal investigators on the CCNA and the only principal investigator in Northern Ontario. Jacklin is co-leading a research team called: “Team 20: Issues in dementia care for rural and Indigenous populations.” Dr. Debra Morgan (University of Saskatchewan) is leading the rural research projects while Jacklin and Dr. Carrie Bourassa (First Nations University) are leading the Indigenous research stream. 

Jacklin’s team will be receiving $1 million in funding over five years to carry out this research. The research will be carried out at NOSM, Laurentian University, and in Northern Ontario, and will focus on four areas:
  1. Examining pathways to dementia care for Indigenous people and identifying effective cultural approaches to care.
  2. The development of culturally appropriate cognitive assessment protocols for use in Aboriginal communities.
  3.  Capacity building for age-related Indigenous dementia research.
  4. Regional epidemiological studies concerning dementia in rural and Indigenous populations (incidence and prevalence, patterns of care, and multi-morbidities).

“Our team is truly excited about the launch of the CCNA,” says Dr. Kristen Jacklin, NOSM Associate Professor, Medical Anthropology. “I think it is highly significant that Indigenous issues will be a part of the Consortium’s work and that there is a team headquartered here at NOSM and the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research at Laurentian University leading this work.”

Over the past four years Jacklin’s team has worked in partnership with rural First Nations communities and urban Aboriginal organizations in Northern Ontario to begin exploring experiences with dementia. The CCNA will enable Jacklin and her team to foster cross-fertilization of ideas between research disciplines to support their research program and to develop innovative projects with other CCNA investigators. 
“Initially, we will be working closely with the First Nations health centres on Manitoulin Island who were the first to bring the issue of dementia in their communities to our attention back in 2007,” explained Jacklin. “Our funding is structured in such a way that there will be opportunities to involve other communities and organizations as we move forward. Addressing dementia in Indigenous populations is crucial. Ten years ago, dementia was not a significant illness in most Aboriginal communities. Through our research, we now know that rates of dementia in Aboriginal populations are higher than those in the non-Indigenous population and communities are struggling to deal with this emerging health issue.”
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