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					                                                               Public Affairs Department • 137 Education Building • Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada R3T 2N2 • Phone 204-474-8346 • Fax 204-474-7631 • umanitoba.ca/mediaroom
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 December 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Research Communications
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      University of Manitoba
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Winnipeg, Canada
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Contact: Janine Harasymchuk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                204-474-7300
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   umanitoba.ca/mediaroom




                                                                                                                                                                                                                         UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA PART OF NEW
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         NATIONAL NETWORK TO STUDY CHILD
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Focus on cerebral palsy, autism and fetal alcohol syndrome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         University of Manitoba researchers will play a major role in a new national
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         network focused on researching the genetic and environmental causes of cerebral
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         palsy, autism spectrum disorders and fetal alcohol syndrome, training the next
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         generation of researchers in pediatric brain development, and will disseminate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         new knowledge into improved diagnosis, treatments and interventions to inform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         care delivery and policy decisions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Headquartered at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) at the Child & Family Research
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Institute (CFRI) and led by Dr. Daniel Goldowitz, the network will receive
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         $19,572,000 in funding over five years from the Networks of Centres of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Excellence of Canada (NCE).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 “The University of Manitoba is very pleased to provide strong support to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the NeuroDevNet NCE,” said Dr. Digvir S. Jayas, Vice-President (Research) at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the University of Manitoba. “The engagement of two of our leading researchers in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the areas of developmental neuropathology and genetic determinants of forebrain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         development will help address these major medical and societal issues.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 At the University of Manitoba, Dr. David Eisenstat, associate professor in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Child Health and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Scientist at the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, will be extensively involved in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the national network of researchers collaborating on this new NCE.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dr. Marc Del Bigio, professor of pathology in the Faculty of Medicine,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neuropathology, and scientist at the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Manitoba Institute of Child Health, joins his colleague Dr. Eisenstat in working
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         with this new NCE. Del Bigio studies brain disease processes and consequences.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Among the disorders he studies are damages associated with premature birth,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         especially bleeding in the brain, which can cause cerebral palsy and learning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         disorders. In addition, he has begun to study the effects of fetal alcohol exposure
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         in the developing brain.
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        Eisenstat’s laboratories are based at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology
and the Manitoba Institute of Child Health and study master regulatory genes that
control networks of other genes required for proper brain development, including
how newly generated neurons get to their final destination and what type of
neuron they will become.
        “This is a tremendous opportunity for Canadian neuroscience investigators
to make an impact on three prevalent and devastating childhood disorders: autism
spectrum disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome and cerebral palsy,” said Eisenstat.
“The scope of this NeuroDevNet team will cover everything from gene discovery
to translation of this knowledge to affected patients and their families. It is an
honour to be part of this ambitious initiative.”
        NeuroDevNet is the first trans-Canadian effort devoted to brain
development from both basic and clinical perspectives. The research network will
bring together Canadian experts in clinical assessment and treatment, genetics and
epigenetics, imaging, model organisms, knowledge translation, informatics, and
neuroethics. The network’s goals for the first five years include discovering the
genes involved in brain dysfunction.
        Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) share characteristics such as
impairments in socialization and communication, repetitive interests and
behaviours. ASD affects more than 52,000 Canadian children and youth under the
age of 20.
        Fetal alcohol syndrome is estimated to occur as frequently as one in every
100 live births in North America. Alcohol exposure during pregnancy causes mild
to moderate brain dysfunctions in processes such as memory, executive function,
social communication, attention span, motor and sensory differences.
       Cerebral palsy occurs in approximately 2.5 per 1000 live births in
developed countries.
       The NCE program is managed jointly by the three federal granting
agencies – the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) – in partnership with Industry Canada.
www.nce.gc.ca

For further information contact Janine Harasymchuk, research
communications and marketing manager, at (204) 474 – 7300.




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