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Major partnership establishes professorship in prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s

Published: 7 Dec 2010

Dr. John C.S. Breitner, renowned researcher and psychiatrist, to take lead on early intervention research

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Research on preventing the devastating onset of dementia is about to break new ground as McGill University, in partnership with Pfizer Canada, has announced today the creation of a professorship for the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s-related diseases. The project has been made possible by a $2 million donation by Pfizer Canada, complemented by a substantial investment by McGill.

The goal of this professorship, which will be held by renowned epidemiologist and psychiatrist Dr. John C.S. Breitner, is to identify the risk factors associated with dementia and to delay its onset before the first symptoms appear. The research will not only focus on prevention, but will also explore therapeutic options to improve the prognosis for patients living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Breitner, who was recently recruited to McGill from the United States, has devoted his career to the study of Alzheimer’s. He is Professor in the McGill Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Centre for Studies on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.

"With the Pfizer Canada Professorship in the Prevention of Dementia, McGill is building on expertise that is both considerable and unique to Quebec,” said McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum.  “Partnerships with industry leaders like Pfizer are crucial in consolidating Quebec's position as a major force in the knowledge economy and in advancing research in priority areas.”

“Dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is a devastating disease not only for the patient, but for family members as well. Clearly, with an aging population, furthering research into prevention and treatment should be a health care priority to help physicians detect and treat the disease more quickly and efficiently. We are proud to be associated with McGill and Dr. Breitner, whose work will unquestionably benefit the medical and biopharmaceutical community in the province and across the country,” said Pfizer Canada president Paul Lévesque.

Alzheimer’s disease alone affects more than 25 million people around the world, including over half a million Canadians and 120,000 Quebecers. According to the Rising Tide study by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the number of new cases will rise from 103,700 in 2008 to 257,800 a year by 2038.

“Dementia is already a public health crisis, one that could take on catastrophic proportions in the coming decades if we don't find a way to prevent it. We are learning how to detect the early signs of the disease. Early intervention is needed in order to prevent symptoms and slow their progression,” said Dr. John C.S. Breitner.

“McGill is recognized internationally in Alzheimer’s and age-related diseases, and with this additional and generous support from Pfizer Canada, we are eager to break new ground,” said McGill’s Vice-Principal of Health Affairs and Dean of Medicine Richard I. Levin. “Most importantly, we look forward to bringing the fruits of our work to Quebecers and to all of society.”

Pfizer Canada’s gift contributes to the ongoing success of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, the University’s historic fundraising drive. To date, Campaign McGill has surpassed $580 million, thanks to the collective generosity of 79,000 donors worldwide.

ABOUT McGILL UNIVERSITY

Founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada’s leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 36,000 students. McGill attracts students from some 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including over 6,000 francophones – with more than 7,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

ABOUT PFIZER CANADA INC.

Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian division of Pfizer Inc., the world's leading biopharmaceutical company. The company is one of the largest contributors to health research in Canada. Pfizer’s diversified healthcare portfolio includes human and animal biologics, small-molecule medicines and vaccines, nutritional products and many of the world’s best-known consumer products.

Every day, Pfizer Canada employees work to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time.  We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well-being of Canadians at every stage of life. Our commitment is reflected in everything Pfizer does, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships, to our belief that it takes more than medication to be truly healthy.

 

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Contact: Stéphane Dion
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