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An investment in brain sciences and comparing breast screening methods

Backing Brain Sciences

The Hurvitz Family Foundation has given its name and $20 million to establish the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook. The state-of-the-art facility, the first of its kind in the country, will accelerate progress into and treatment of brain disorders.

“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,” said Dr. Anthony Levitt, chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program and a scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute.

The centre of excellence in neurosciences is encouraging a collaborative approach to tackling brain conditions by linking experts across the disciplines of psychiatry, neurology, imaging, pharmacology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology and geriatrics.

The facility will cost roughly $50 million to bring to fruition: Sunnybrook’s mental health wing will be renovated, and a new building will go up beside it.

Breast Screening: Digital Methods Contrasted

Breast screening

Photo: ©iStock.com/sankalpmaya

Cancer researchers at Sunnybrook Research Institute are conducting the first Canadian randomized clinical trial designed to compare a 3-D breast screening method to digital mammography as part of the North America-wide Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial.

Drs. Roberta Jong and Martin Yaffe are co-investigators of the 14-site study. They will compare digital breast tomosynthesis, also called 3-D mammography, with digital mammography to determine which is better at detecting breast cancer.

Digital tomosynthesis takes up to 15 low-radiation-dose images of the breast that are sliced and layered into a three-dimensional view. The technique aims to reduce false alarms, lessen patient anxiety and find up to one-third more of the small, invasive cancers that would be missed with current mammography, said Jong.

Researchers are conducting the trial at two sites in Canada; 2,000 women will be recruited and tracked over two years. An estimated 60,000 women will be enrolled overall.

Jong and Yaffe were also site co-investigators on the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial. That trial determined that digital mammography was better at detecting breast cancer among women aged under 50 years, who are premenopausal or who have dense breasts.