Calgary

Dementia research centre opens at University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is opening a new research centre on Wednesday afternoon that will allow better collaboration among experts in stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Facility made possible by $6M gift from Ronald and Irene Ward Foundation

The Ron and Irene Ward Center for Healthy Brain Aging Research will be dedicated to the prevention and treatment of dementia-related illnesses. (CBC)

Calgary's leading experts on the aging brain are now working together under the same roof.

University of Calgary researchers specializing in dementia, stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's moved into a new state-of-the-art space Wednesday, which is located adjacent to the Foothills Hospital. 

"Many people can have more than one of these diseases at the same time. So by putting people with specialties in these different areas together we can collaborate and understand and share information and potentially make a lot more progress," said Dr. Eric Smith, associate professor in the department of clinical neurosciences at the university.

Aging brain experts say finding better treatment and prevention for demetia is critical now that Canada has more seniors than young children. (Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images)

The new facility was made possible by a $6 million gift to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute from the Ronald and Irene Ward Foundation. Ronald Ward, who had Lewy body dementia, passed away in 2007.

Dr. Eric Smith is an associate professor in the department of clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary. (University of Calgary)

"As a result of that, and the family being touched by that unfortunate disease, the foundation was created and has been supporting research — including this major donation," said Smith.

He says with the cost of dementia care in Canada now exceeding the cost of care for all types of cancer, it's critical for researchers like himself to find ways to better prevent and treat the disease.

​"We're now a society that has more seniors than young children," said Smith. 

Smith says the Ron and Rene Ward Centre for Healthy Brain Aging Research will also be a technological hub that uses neuroimaging, or brain-scanning, to seek answers. 

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