Brain Resilience
and Recovery

The most challenging brain disorders of our time may soon meet their match thanks to the newly established Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery.

"It’s a good time in the field to be upbeat and optimistic," says Dr. Sandra Black, the inaugural scientific director for whom the Sunnybrook’s newly established Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery is named. "We’re making some real strides towards precision medicine. We’re going to have blood tests for diagnosis and brain scans to guide interventions with some promising new antibody treatments now undergoing testing."

The internationally renowned neurologist specializes in uncovering relationships between dementia and the brain’s microvasculature, its complex, intricate network of small blood vessels. Neurovascular research is globally important, thanks to Dr. Black’s remarkable efforts over the past 30 years.

Dr. Sandra Black.

With a body of world-leading knowledge created at Sunnybrook, and the talented personnel assembled by Dr. Black, the new centre will amplify discovery and bring new treatments to patients and families faster than has ever been possible.

It could very well make all the difference for people like Margaret Casey. A lifelong sports enthusiast, the 72-year-old Toronto resident wants to ski Whistler Blackcomb until she’s 75. She also wants to maintain brain health for as long as possible, and that’s where the new centre comes in.

An active senior with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Margaret is participating in an Alzheimer’s clinical trial investigating the potential benefits of a disease-modifying drug to slow the progression of the degenerative brain disease if caught early enough. While she has not shown outward signs of the brain disease thus far, Margaret is deeply committed to the cause. She visits the centre every four weeks for an infusion, and for periodic memory tests and scans.

“When I was offered this study, I said yes. Because if I can help other people, I will,” she explains.

The clinical trial is one of many examples of world-leading research happening at the centre, which launched in September 2020 thanks to a generous $10-million gift from a local anonymous donor.

The leadership gift offered stability in a year that has been marked by uncertainty due to COVID-19. This gift gives us a huge boost in a very uncertain time. I am humbled and deeply grateful for the generosity of the lead donor,” says Dr. Black.

As the Foundation seeks community investment to reach its fundraising goal for the centre, Dr. Black says she knows “philanthropy can be a driving force for innovation, enabling us to reach new heights and horizons.”

“I am hopeful that the exciting and novel brain research taking place here – enabled by our funders and persons at risk or living with dementia, who are also key partners as we investigate promising new therapies – will bring the dawn of a new era for prevention of and recovery from Alzheimer’s and related dementias in the near future.”

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