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SickKids scientists awarded new funding to advance novel brain research
4 minute read

SickKids scientists awarded new funding to advance novel brain research


The Brain Canada funding will support two scientists as they examine preterm brain injury and memory formation in memory-linked brain conditions.

Drs. Jiannis Taxidis and Brian Kalish at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have been awarded the 2022 Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research award from Brain Canada Foundation.  

Designed to accelerate novel and transformative research, this annual award grants recipients $100,000 over two years to advance their research, with the goal to reduce the burden of neurological and mental health conditions through prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. 

Learn more about how these two SickKids-led projects could spark new care approaches for preterm brain injury and memory-linked brain conditions.  

Decoding the spatial architecture of newborn brain injury 

For preterm infants, brain injury can cause serious long-term health challenges. 

With funding support from Brain Canada Foundation, Dr. Brian Kalish, a Scientist-Track Investigator in the Neurosciences & Mental Health program and Staff Neonatologist, will seek new therapeutic targets for brain injury in preterm infants. 

Leveraging novel genetic technology, the Kalish lab hopes that this research will expand the currently limited interventions for neonatal brain injury in order to reduce the risk of cognitive, motor and language challenges.  

“By better understanding how pregnancy and early life experiences shape a child’s neurodevelopment, it is our goal to one day treat, or even prevent, neurodevelopmental conditions and improve the length and quality of life for infants with brain injury,” says Kalish. 

The role of inhibition in shaping neuronal memory traces  

Patients who have experienced damage to the hippocampus region in the brain can often remember events, but not their time and order – so, why is this? 

In his lab Dr. Jiannis Taxidis, a Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health program, combines cutting-edge imaging experiments and computational modelling to research how neurons encode experiences in the brain and link them together.  

With the support of this award, Taxidis’ research will examine how inhibitory cells regulate memory-linking activity in the brain, to help uncover the role of these cells in people with schizophrenia who experience memory impairment 

“If we can illuminate the function of these cells in memory processes, and their dysfunction in memory disorders, we may be able to identify new approaches to restoring brain activity and inform care for people with Alzheimer disease, schizophrenia and other brain conditions linked with memory impairment," says Taxidis. 

The Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research program is supported by the Canada Brain Research Fund, an arrangement between the Government of Canada, through Health Canada, and Brain Canada Foundation. 

Learn more on the Brain Canada Foundation website.

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