AMAP team receives $2.6 million AIF grant

2017 - A team of Dalhousie researchers led by engineering physicist Dr. Jeremy Brown received $2.68 million to develop a miniature ablation endoscope for guided neurosurgery. Brain tumour re-sections currently use tiny surgical tools passed through a small opening in the skull, which is preferable to open-brain surgery but does not provide the surgeon with a much visual information. This new imaging device, originally developed for auditory imaging and now to be adapted for intraoperative brain imaging, will enable neurosurgeons to see such details as the amount of tumour remaining and blood flow in nearby vessels, and to predict dangerous access routes. It represents a quantum leap in guided brain surgery. Other members of the team include fellow AMAP members, Dr. Adrienne Weeks, Dr. James Fawcett, Dr. John Frampton, along with Dr. Robert Adamson.

Spine care improvement program receivesTRIC grant funding

2016 - Spinal neurosurgeon and AMAP member Dr. Sean Christie is heading a multidisciplinary project to improve patient access to quality spinal care. He and other spinal neurosurgeons have joined forces with spine surgeons in orthopedics, and colleagues in rehabilitation and chronic pain, to create a comprehensive spine program, with funding from a QEII Foundation TRIC (Translating Research into Care) grant. One of their primary goals is to develop pathways to care that will put people with spinal problems in front of the clinician who can help them most, quickly. Currently, as many as 90 per cent of patients who consult with a spine surgeon end up NOT having the surgery, so there is a significant log jam in the system. Many of these patients could be improving their mobility and function by working with a physiotherapist. The comprehensive health system reform project also seeks to educate family physicians and other primary care providers in how to thoroughly assess spine problems in order to refer patients to the appropriate provider sooner.

Dr. Vic Rafuse receives two CIHR project grants

2016 - The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded two project grants to AMAP founding member, Dr. Victor Rafuse, Professor of Medical Neuroscience, in a recent competition. According to CIHR's website, project grants are designed to support ideas with the greatest potential to advance health-related fundamental or applied knowledge, health research, health care, health systems, and/or health outcomes. Dr. Rafuse received two project grants, as follows:

Deciphering the mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction at the neuromuscular junction in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Dr. Victor Rafuse and the team in his lab are shedding light on the mechanisms that cause motor neurons to withdraw from the neuromuscular junction (the location where motor neurons physically contact muscle cells and release a chemical that signals the muscles to contract) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Loss of these synaptic connections contributes to the death of motor neurons and accelerates the rate of paralysis in ALS. Dr. Rafuse and his team are using a variety of sophisticated models to identify potential targets for therapeutics that could stabilize these synaptic connections.

Restoring useful function to completely and permanently denervated skeletal muscles
With a second major CIHR project grant, Dr. Rafuse will continue his work to explore how the nervous system may be bypassed altogether to stimulate muscle cells directly with light. These studies will lay the foundation for using this new technology to restore meaningful movement, such as hand grasping or breathing, to individuals whose hand muscles or diaphragm were permanently paralyzed due to motor neuron death after a spinal cord injury.

BRC Discovery Grant boosts ALS research

2015 - AMAP member Dr. Turgay Akay received the inaugural BRC Discovery Grant for his work to understand the mechanisms that drive the loss of neurons and motor function in ALS.

Dr. Akay has applied his background in zoology, neural systems and behaviour to develop experimental models for studying ALS that are truly unique in the world. Unlike other ALS models, which involve cell cultures in Petri dishes or sacrificing mice to study their nervous tissues, Dr. Akay's model measures muscle innervation and movement in living mice with ALS. Dr. Akay joined Dalhousie's Department of Medical Neuroscience from Columbia University in 2014. Full story at BRC website.

Halifax hosts 2014 international motoneuron conference

2014 - AMAP members hosted motor neuron researchers from around the world at the 9th International Motoneuron Meeting, held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from June 15 to 19, 2014. The highly successful meeting attracted scientists, clinician-investigators and students with a shared research focus on motor neuron diseases, to discuss the latest findings in this rapidly evolving field.

"Hosting this conference was a great opportunity for us to showcase our teams and facilities and the uniquely integrated, collaborative mobility research we're doing here at Dalhousie," says Dr. Rob Brownstone, chair of the conference's scientific program committee. "It really put Dalhousie on the world neuroscience map, and introduced a lot of visitors to our beautiful province. Not only was it a scientific success, it was an economic win for Nova Scotia."


For more information, visit the conference website by clicking here.

Dalhousie spinal cord researchers receive $1.7 million and top-rankings from CIHR

2014 - Two neuroscientists at Dalhousie Medical School have received $1.7 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to answer key questions about how circuits in the spinal cord allow us to move in coordinated, rhythmic ways, independent of our thinking minds.

In addition to the substantial CIHR operating grants, Dr. Robert Brownstone, Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Circuits, and Dr. Ying Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Neuroscience, were ranked first and second, respectively, in CIHR's 2014 competition in the vast area of movement and exercise beating out some 50 other top-notch investigators for the top two spots. See the full story.

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