Canada Foundation for Innovation awards uOttawa, Heart Institute $5.8M through 2020 Innovation Fund

March 2, 2021

Team of specialists to study brain-heart connections with goal of transforming patient care

OTTAWA, March 3, 2021 – Today, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awarded the Hub of Excellence for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research Project (HCNMR)–spearheaded by Dr. Peter Liu at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) and Ruth Slack, PhD, of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI)–upwards of $5.8M through the 2020 Innovation Fund. This contribution affords the HCNMR to continue its important work to “unlock brain-heart connections,” deliver new tools for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, and transform patient care for millions of Canadians.

“Individually, cardio-neuro-mind diseases are deadly and disabling, yet major linkages between these conditions have long been overlooked. With this tremendous support from CFI, the HCNMR team will investigate the shared mechanisms underlying these complex health challenges,” said Dr. Peter Liu, chief scientific officer and vice-president of research at the UOHI. “We are grateful to continue our work with the ultimate goal of transforming care for patients with co-occurrence of these devastating conditions, including heart failure, cognitive impairment, atrial fibrillation, stroke, depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.”

“Current medical practice treats brain-heart conditions as siloed entities, with limited awareness of their tight interactions in pathogenesis, shared risk factors, mutual regulation, and potential shared solutions,” said Ruth Slack, PhD, director of uOBMRI. “Together we are now poised to address this knowledge gap and seek innovative solutions to improve patient care.”

Other team members include Dr. Sandra Black, a clinical trialist and vascular-cognitive impairment expert from Sunnybrook Research Institute; Dr. Georg Northoff, a tier 1 Canada research chair in mind, brain imaging and neuroethics at The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR) affiliated with the University of Ottawa; and Katey Rayner, PhD, an atherosclerosis and inflammation expert at the UOHI.

The objectives of the project are five-fold:

  1. To improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of concurrent brain-heart-mind conditions through accelerated collaboration.
  2. To identify the common mechanisms involved in heart failure, depression, and cognitive impairment, and to develop tools for improved diagnosis and therapies.
  3. To investigate the linkages amongst atrial fibrillation, stroke, and cognitive impairment, and expound underlying mechanisms, risk predictors, and mitigation strategies.
  4. To define how sex differences impact disease interactions and to develop interventions with optimal effectiveness for all individuals.
  5. To transform the patient care approach by treating brain-heart conditions as a whole and pioneer a patient-centred NeuroCardiac Care Model.

About the HCNMR

The Hub of Excellence for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research, hosted at the University of Ottawa, is Canada’s first multi-disciplinary, multi-specialty research group investigating the shared mechanisms underlying heart, brain, and mind health challenges. The research team includes leading experts in neuroscientific, cardiovascular, vascular, psychiatric and technology research at the UOHI, the uOBMRI, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, the Bruyère Research Institute, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre affiliated with the University of Toronto, and other prominent research institutions across Canada.

For more information:

Press release: Visit the Canada Foundation for Innovation website for complete details.

Media opportunities: To coordinate an interview with Dr. Peter Liu or another spokesperson from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute involved with the Hub of Excellence for Cardio-Neuro-Mind Research project, please contact the liaison named below.

Media contact

Leigh B. Morris
Communications Officer
University of Ottawa Heart Institute
613-316-6409 (cell.)