Hamilton

Juravinskis donate $3.3M to speed up COVID-19 and brain health research

Charles and Margaret Juravinski already pledged to donate their estate — roughly $100 million — and share it between Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. Now, they're issuing a $3.3 million cash advance.

The cash advance will fund five research projects related to the novel coronavirus

Charles Juravinski and his wife Margaret are funnelling $3.3 million into research toward beating COVID-19 and improving brain health. (Jessica Young/CBC)

Two local philanthropists have given Hamilton researchers an immediate $3.3 million cash advance to speed up research on COVID-19.

Charles and Margaret Juravinski already pledged to donate their estate — roughly $100 million — and share it between Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

They're making some of that money available now.

"Today, we are writing again, to share what we hope will be regarded as a little good news in difficult times. We are accelerating our plan by making an immediate additional gift of $3.3 million, to help fund urgent research projects," reads a letter from the couple. 

"Most of the research will concentrate on the immediate priority of the COVID-19 pandemic."

How the $3.3 million will help

The cash advance will fund five research projects related to the novel coronavirus that focus on:

  • Whether N95 respirators or medical masks are the best option for healthcare providers caring for COVID-19 patients.
  • A three-part study assessing the impact of a pandemic on hospital emergency departments, critical and intensive care units, and staff.
  • Using robotics to automate and speed up diagnostic testing protocols for SARS-CoV-2, the viral pathogen responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A long-term study on aging with 50,000 people ages 45 to 85 to form a baseline for COVID-19 research in Canada.
  • A biobank — a repository for storing human biological samples — amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The money will also contribute to studies about brain health with special attention to:

  • A three-year study examining the impact of substance use on the brain development of young adults, ages 18-25.
  • Developing technology to confirm the presence of a change in the brain following mild traumatic brain injury, identify the location of the injury, and predict and track a patient's recovery.
  • An AI-driven system that guides and supports treatment decisions for youth mental health cases.

This comes as provincial health experts are expected to provide a briefing Friday on modelling "really stark" projections for the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario.

The pandemic has infected 127 people and killed two in Hamilton as of Thursday at noon.

"As a man of 90 and woman of 88, we have seen the world face and overcome many frightening problems, including the ravages of the Great Depression, the threat of global fascism in the Second World War and the scourge of polio, to name just some," reads the letter from the Juravinski family.

"In each case, the threat was grave, and the outcome uncertain. In each case, humanity prevailed and the future brightened. Like everyone, we are deeply troubled by the fearsome threat of COVID-19, which has truly changed the world in just a few months."

The philanthropic couple's previous donations led HHS to name its cancer centre after them.

The Juravinski family said it is staying safe and liken frontline healthcare workers to "soldiers who have gone to war for our country in the past" and hope they will win the war against the tireless virus.

"We'd like to see this happen during what remains of our lifetimes, and we are excited to have the chance to help."

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