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Sunnybrook launches The Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery with $10-million gift

September 21, 2020

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On World Alzheimer’s Day – dedicated to raising awareness about the devastating impact that Alzheimer’s and other dementias have on countless lives worldwide – Sunnybrook is pleased to announce a generous and timely investment from a local philanthropist who chooses to remain anonymous.

This $10-million gift launches The Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery at Sunnybrook. The centre is named in honour of renowned Sunnybrook neurologist Dr. Sandra Black, whose vast contributions to the field of brain health and tremendous ability as a physician inspired the donor to make a lead investment.

With this donation, the centre is set to lead the way with novel and innovative approaches to support brain resilience that will eventually help the brain recover from these challenging neurological conditions.

“During the unprecedented global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to continue fighting back against another threat to global health, which is Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says Dr. Andy Smith, Sunnybrook’s President and CEO. “We couldn’t be more grateful for this generous investment, and we’re honoured that the donor has named the centre after such a gifted physician, scientist, mentor and leader. I know that Dr. Black and her team will continue to be on the cutting edge of research and push the limits in search of solutions to the world’s most challenging brain conditions to help improve the lives of patients and their families.”

The centre builds on years of research and unites Sunnybrook’s internationally recognized team of dementia experts to attack Alzheimer’s and dementia from multiple angles. From investigating biology, therapeutics and risk factors to analyzing big data, Dr. Black’s team will seek answers to questions that have hindered progress in treating these disorders to date.

With resources for the centre, Dr. Black can keep this world-class team at Sunnybrook, where together they are building an extensive volume of research focusing on uncovering the relationship between the brain’s microvasculature — the complex, intricate network of small blood vessels — and dementia.

“The relationships among neurovascular disease, aging and dementia are incredibly complex – and a complex disease calls for a multi-faceted approach,” says Dr. Sandra Black, inaugural director of the new centre. “There have been some recent advances in diagnosing dementia, but so far no effective treatments exist. Our aim with this centre is to help change that by better understanding why some brains are more resilient than others, promoting brain-healthy lifestyle choices, and controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Our goal is to slow decline and support a personalized recovery. The earlier we intervene, the more we can build on each individual’s resilience, regardless of age.”

With initial support from the lead donation and the ongoing efforts of Sunnybrook Foundation to reach the centre’s $30-million goal, Sunnybrook’s uniquely collaborative team of dementia researchers will have the resources they need to find ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s and dementia. Without having to wait for annual funds from granting agencies, this gift gives Dr. Black and her team the ability to conduct longer-term research studies and accelerate the pace of this groundbreaking work.

“This is a prime example of the power of philanthropy to advance an important field of medicine, even during a global pandemic,” says Dr. Jon Dellandrea, President and CEO of Sunnybrook Foundation. “These resources both secure the legacy of a researcher and clinician who has had a tremendous impact on understanding brain health, and ensure that this legacy of discovery will continue well into the future. The impact of this generous investment will be incalculable as our global population continues to age.”

Learn more about The Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery

Media contact:
Jennifer Palisoc
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
416.480.4040
jennifer.palisoc@sunnybrook.ca