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Kids Brain Health Network - KBHN*

$39.1 million for 2009-20
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Kids Brain Health Network

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$28 million

Simon Fraser University, Surrey, British Columbia

Chief Scientific Officer
James Reynolds James Reynolds

Nicky Lewis Nicky Lewis

Board chair
Sheila Laredo Sheila Laredo
Chief of staff, Women’s College Hospital

Treating and preventing childhood brain disorders

The opportunity

With one in six children affected 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. Already known globally for its excellence in neuroscience and brain-related research, Canada’s next step was to create a national network to enable researchers, neurological institutes and children’s hospitals 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 KBHN is seizing the opportunity

Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) researchers from multiple scientific disciplines collaborate with community, industry, government and non-profit partners to understand the genetic and environmental causes of cerebral palsy, autism and FASD. The network supports high-impact, transformative research and its translation 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

  • KBHN 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.
  • KBHN’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.
  • The Social ABCs early behavioural intervention program targets 18-30 month olds diagnosed with or showing early signs of autism. In partnership with Humber College, KBHN turned it into a train-the-teacher program for early childhood educators (ECEs). Following their training, four ECEs observed improvement in verbal capacity, social initiation and engagement with peers among the children supported with the program.
  • Drawing on KBHN research, the Ottawa-based Fetal Alcohol Resource Program (FARP) supports individuals and families affected by FASD. Three FARP system navigators facilitate access to regional services, offer training for professionals and agency staff in multiple sectors, and provide evidence-based education to the justice community to promote constructive engagement with people with FASD.

Connect with KBHN

* (formerly known as NeuroDevNet)


Eye tracking shows promise as screening tool for children with FASD
August 18, 2016
Two groundbreaking discoveries by NeuroDevNet-supported researchers could contribute to the development of a less expensive and faster screening tool to identify young children, and even infants, with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Read more
NCE community members among winners of prestigious Canadian science awards
February 18, 2015
The winners of prestigious science prizes given out to some of Canada’s top researchers include innovators who have made important contributions to NCE-funded networks and centres. The annual awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) are bestowed for a wide range of world-class achievements by Canadian researchers that boost discovery, training and innovation in Canada. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, honoured the winners at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on February 17. Read more
Inflatable therapy vest may help children with neurodevelopmental disorders
September 27, 2012
Research conducted as part of a Mitacs Accelerate internship is helping show that the inflatable Snug Vest can help treat autism spectrum disorders. Deep pressure therapy, using devices such as weighted vests, is widely used to treat autism spectrum disorders, yet little scientific evidence exists to back up its effectiveness. Research conducted as part of a Mitacs Accelerate internship is providing that evidence, helping boost a young company’s product sales and development in the process. Read more
Gaming your way to better health
April 24, 2012
An innovative research project using video games and physical activity continues to demonstrate that children with brain disorders are more able to learn new behaviours than previously thought. Read more
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