early proof of concept research

Since 2007 the Firefly Foundation has donated $400,000 to The Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases to support their work in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Funding from Firefly is applied to early phase, proof-of-concept research with a focus on Alzheimer’s and Lewy body disease, under the supervision of Dr. Peter St George-Hyslop, a professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, and Director, Center for Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Toronto.

The Tanz Centre is one of the leaders in neurodegenerative disease research publications in the United States and Europe.  The Centre’s articles are heavily cited by researchers and experts, demonstrating the extraordinary impact of its research on these diseases.

a message from dr. paul fraser

Principal Investigator at the CRND

The Firefly funds were used for two projects that addressed both the early diagnosis and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.  The first involves the development of a new imaging technique to specifically detect amyloid deposits in the brain as these represent to first stages of the disease and we may be able to identify at risk individuals who can be treated before memory loss sets in.  The second project looked at how the brain regenerates nerve cells with the view to enhancing the regenerative process and repair the damaged areas of the brain in individuals with late stage Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the most difficult things in research is to get financial support for new or high risk endeavors as most funding agencies require preliminary data even if the underlying idea is considered to be highly innovative.  The wonderful thing about the Firefly funding is that it is essentially seed money which allows us to explore these new areas of research and take chances that are otherwise impossible to do.  The findings from the two Firefly projects have now been leveraged into a large internationally-funded research grant, enabled a doctoral student to win a prestigious Vanier Scholarship, and made it possible for a postdoctoral fellow to secure a faculty position as an Assistant Professor.