Brain Repair Centre

Chair:                       Dr. Victor Rafuse, Director

The Brain Repair Centre (BRC) is a collaboration of Dalhousie University, the Capital District Health Authority and the IWK Health Centre. The BRC is a multi-disciplinary unit focusing on research that can lead to the diagnosis, treatment, and repair of the brain to overcome the effects of neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Epilepsy, Muscular Sclerosis (MS), stroke and spinal cord injury. The BRC grew out of the clinical Neural Transplantation Program, collaboration between basic neuroscientists and clinicians interested in treating Parkinson’s disease. The success of the Neural Transplantation Program led clinical and basic neuroscientists to decide to form the Brain Repair Centre. The BRC was formed in 1999 and has focused on stem cell transplantation, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, psychotic disorders, stroke and neuroimaging as areas of innovation at Dalhousie University, Capital Health and the IWK Health Centre.

Examples of BRC achievements include:

  • Attracted capital funding from private donors, institutions and the public sector to support construction and fit-up of the new Life Sciences Research Institute. When the LSRI is completed, the Brain Repair Centre will become the anchor tenant of this new research and commercialization building with state-of-the-art research, equipment and facilities.
  • Establishment of collaboration agreements with research teams at McLean Hospital/Harvard University; Jilin University, China; Cardiff University, Wales; and Neurodyn, Inc.
  • Establishment of a $12 million magnetic resonance imaging facility with the national Research council’s Institute for Biodiagnostics (NRC-IBD).
  • In 2006, the BRC was awarded $5.5 million for infrastructure from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the largest such award to date in Atlantic Canada. Also in 2006, BRC received a $3 million Atlantic Innovation Fund award for research, a follow-on to an earlier $3 million research award.
  • Dr. David Clarke, a member of the Brain Repair Centre used a virtual model of a patient’s brain to remove a simulated brain tumour before removing the actual tumour the following morning. Developed by a partnership of the National Research Council and a team of about 50 people in 10 Centres across Canada, this was the first such surgery performed in the world.
  • Medtronic Canada, Capital District Health Authority, QEII Foundation, and the Brain Repair Centre established a Canadian Centre of Excellence and Training at the Halifax Infirmary. This new $3.5 million centre provides important new clinical facilities for training and development in imaging, spinal cord and neuromodulation.
  • In the neurotransplantation field, the BRC is unique in Canada and one of only four centres worldwide involved in clinical application of neural transplantation, with the “Halifax Protocol” accepted as the world gold standard.
  • The BRC is an innovative collaboration that integrates its research expertise with pioneers in the fields of imaging, neurology, stem cell neurobiology, vision, molecular neurobiology, pharmacology, psychiatry, clinical trials and cognitive neuroscience.
  • The BRC brings together the expanding fields of neuroimaging and stem cell technologies with application to the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
  • The BRC is the Atlantic Canada presence in the Stem Cell Network, a National Centre of Excellence in stem cell research.

The BRC places emphasis on moving basic science research from the bench to the clinical bedside and from the bedside back to the bench. A key objective of the BRC is to produce innovative technologies that will be commercialized.