Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
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NeuroDevNet - NeuroDevNet

$39.1 million for 2009-19

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$6.5 million

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

Scientific Director
Daniel Goldowitz Daniel Goldowitz

Board chair
Patrick Lafferty Patrick Lafferty,
former partner, PriceWaterhouse Cooper LLP and former Assistant Auditor General of Canada

Treating and preventing childhood brain disorders

The opportunity

With one in six children impacted by neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), there is an enormous need to improve diagnostic capabilities, develop new interventions, introduce new clinical practices, and better support affected children and their families. Canada was already known globally for its excellence in neuroscience and brain-related research. The next step was to create a national network that enabled researchers, neurological institutes and children’s hospitals from across the country to collaborate on new ways to treat, cure or prevent brain dysfunction in unborn children, and help children and their families overcome the challenges of neurodevelopmental disorders.

How NeuroDevNet is seizing this opportunity

NeuroDevNet researchers from multiple scientific disciplines collaborate with community, industry, government and not-for-profit partners to understand the genetic and environmental causes of cerebral palsy, autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The network supports high-impact and transformative research, and the translation of this research into tangible benefits, and provides innovative training opportunities to seed a new generation of highly skilled Canadian researchers. This collaborative effort is providing health care professionals, policy makers, caregivers and families with tools and information to promote earlier diagnosis, better treatment, and optimal outcomes for children today, and in the future.

Among the results

  • NeuroDevNet researchers have identified new autism risk genes. This discovery opens the door for earlier diagnosis, interventions and targeted treatments for children with autism.
  • FASD researchers have established a national dataset linking behaviours seen in the disorder to brain structure and genetic profiles. This unprecedented synthesis will enable a more complete understanding of the state of a child with FASD, support the discovery of diagnostic biomarkers and help assess therapeutic interventions.
  • Brain researchers from NeuroDevNet and computer scientists from the Graphics, Animation and New Media NCE (GRAND) co-developed a computer game that improves cognitive functions in children with FASD and autism spectrum disorder. They also improved cardio fitness in children with cerebral palsy with a pedal-powered video “exergame” built around a customized stationary bicycle.
  • NeuroDevNet has led the development of a national Cerebral Palsy Registry with information on over 1,400 children. This invaluable data promotes better understanding of treatment options and supports critical new research.
  • The network’s FASD researchers have shown that eye-tracking technology from SR Research Inc. is a promising screening tool for FASD and ADHD, based on an algorithm developed by Drs. Laurent Itti and Doug Munoz, who are pursuing a patent for their work.

Learn more

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2015 Annual Brain Development Conference

September 19-21, 2015
Ottawa, Ontario
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