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$20-million donated for Brain Sciences Centre

Anthony LevittTORONTO – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is set to revolutionize brain sciences treatment and research in Canada with a state-of-the-art Brain Sciences Centre, the first of its kind in Canada, thanks to a lead gift of $20 million from the Hurvitz Family Foundation.

The Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre will take an unprecedented approach to collaboration across disciplines, linking experts in each field of brain sciences – psychiatry, neurology, imaging, pharmacology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, and geriatrics – in an effort to accelerate research and slow the progress of brain disorders.

Along with the naming of the Centre, Sunnybrook’s brain sciences program will be renamed the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program.

“I am extraordinarily proud to have my family’s name associated with a program that will directly impact the future of brain sciences medicine in Canada,” says Garry Hurvitz. “Brain disorders affect every family, and we are pleased to help Sunnybrook respond in a unique way that will change lives.”

By integrating the psychological and physiological elements of brain sciences, Sunnybrook will not only strengthen its commitment to understanding the relationship between the brain, mind and body, but also complement the organization’s existing culture of innovation and discovery.

“We are the only place in Canada where world-class researchers and clinicians in all three of the most common brain disorders – dementia, stroke, as well as depression and anxiety – work closely together to transform care,” says Dr. Anthony Levitt (pictured), Chief of Sunnybrook’s Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program.

“We do this because the three are inter-related. People with any one of these conditions are more likely to suffer from one of the others. What we learn about one will help us with all. Bringing this work together is an absolutely critical next step in understanding the causes and developing new treatments for these brain conditions.”

The total cost of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre is estimated to be $50 million. It will combine a renovation of Sunnybrook’s existing F wing with a new building of the same size alongside it.

“Sunnybrook is grateful to the Hurvitz family for helping us to integrate our centres of excellence in brain sciences,” says Dr. Barry McLellan, President and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Already at Sunnybrook, advanced imaging is finding disease earlier, brain surgery is being conducted without a scalpel, and people’s genes are becoming the roadmap for personalized treatments.

“These innovations are happening at Sunnybrook, right now,” said Dr. McLellan. These are the tip of the iceberg, and the generous donation from the Hurvitz family will accelerate the pace of discovery.”

Sunnybrook is the largest single-site hospital in Canada, treating 1.2 million patient visits and conducting more than $100 million in research each year.

Impact of brain disorders

• 50% of Canadians have had a brain disorder impact their family.

• Brain disorders are among the leading causes of death in Canada and are the leading cause of disability. They affect 1 in 3 Canadians of all ages.

• There are more than 1,000 brain and nervous system diseases, disorders, and injuries.

• The economic burden of these disorders, including lost productivity and psychological costs, is estimated to be $35 billion.

Source: braincanada.ca

• Neurological disorders, including psychiatric disorders and dementia, are currently estimated to affect as many as a billion people, and their prevalence is rising.

• In the next 15 years, depression will be ranked number one in terms of burden of disease (illness and lost productivity) across the world.

• People affected by dementia – already counted in the 10s of millions – will double every 20 years.

Source: World Health Organization

About Sunnybrook’s Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program
• Sunnybrook has unique centres of excellence that don’t exist anywhere else in the country: The Slaight Centre for Image-Guided Brain Therapy and Repair, Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics, Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre, Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder, Family Navigation Project, and the largest youth psychiatry division in Canada.

• The Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program is already linked to Sunnybrook’s priority programs, addressing brain health along with body health: the Odette Cancer Program, the Schulich Heart Centre, Trauma, Emergency and Critical Care, Women & Babies, and Sunnybrook Research Institute.

• We are the country’s largest single-site academic health sciences centre. Our model of embedding research with patient care ensures that multi-disciplinary specialists working shoulder to shoulder accelerate both the pace of new discoveries and the rate at which they are translated back into patient treatments.

About the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre
• Our current mental health wing will be transformed by combining renovated and retrofitted areas with a vast expansion. Our current space is 62,000 square feet. This new centre will be approximately twice that size, and the renovated sections will blend seamlessly with the new building.

• The new space will be welcoming, comforting and safe for patients and staff. It will encourage and optimize collaboration between specialties.

• The Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre will take an integrated approach to tackling some of the greatest health threats of our time, such as dementia, stroke, as well as depression and anxiety. Uniquely, it will care for patients across the lifespan, from adolescents to the elderly.

• By embedding psychiatry within brain sciences, we will reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Here, patients will start their road to recovery in a facility designed to help them return to their lives in optimal health.

About Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of healthcare for the 1.2 million patients the hospital cares for each year through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada’s premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies, critically-ill newborns and adults, offering specialized rehabilitation and treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychiatric disorders, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries. The Hospital also has a unique and national leading program for the care of Canada’s war veterans. For more information about how Sunnybrook is inventing the future of healthcare please visit us online at www.sunnybrook.ca.

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