TORONTO — Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) is one of the top neuroscience programs in the world, as well as a wonderful resource for targeted brain fitness product development efforts, with both governmental and private investors, says an external review panel of highly respected scientists from Canada, the United States and Europe.
The international panel was in Toronto last November to conduct a five-year review of the RRI, which in its 20-year history has built a stellar reputation in the science of the aging brain and the ability to attract some of the world’s most eminent brain researchers (including Endel Tulving, Fergus Craik and founding RRI director Donald Stuss).
The panel – led by Dr. Robert Knight, director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley – ranked the RRI as a world-class cognitive neuroscience program as comparable to those at UC Berkeley, UCLA, University College London and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the field of memory and aging, RRI scientists “are probably the best in the world,” the panel reported in its executive summary.
The RRI’s excellent theoretical science and use of on-site imaging technologies have produced promising cognitive rehabilitation strategies for adults who are experiencing diminishing mental powers from normal aging, stroke, diseases such as Alzheimer’s, or traumatic brain injury. RRI science is also informing evidence-based lifestyle strategies that have the potential to slow cognitive decline and help adults extend their functional independence longer.
The panel pointed to last spring’s Ontario government announcement that it will fund the creation of the Baycrest Centre for Brain Fitness as a first step toward private sector partnerships in the development of innovative technologies that help Canada gain a foothold in the fast-growing and lucrative brain fitness market. The Baycrest Centre for Brain Fitness will develop and commercialize a range of products from a cognitive assessment tool for the doctor’s office to brain fitness products for the home and workplace.
“Partnerships, like the ones we have through the Centre for Brain Fitness and with academic facilities and funders, have a significant impact on our ability to move science toward our goal of transforming the way people age,” says Dr. William E. Reichman, president and CEO, Baycrest.
“They are integral to strengthening our ability and dedication to scientific inquiry and innovation in clinical care. This will help our society cross the critical threshold of preventing or delaying the onset of age-related disorders of the brain.”