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Battling brain disorders

Temerty Foundation gift offers hope to millions affected by neurodegenerative diseases

November 24, 2014

A $5-million donation from Louise and Jim Temerty (pictured above) and the Temerty Family Foundation will advance discoveries in the prevention, early detection and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Jim and Louise Temerty understand the power of the math involved. That’s why the Canadian philanthropists felt compelled to support a Western-led research collaboration seeking to unlock the secrets of neurodegenerative diseases.

“We’ve got all these people doing all of this research and some of it is overlapping,” says Mr. Temerty, founder and chairman of Northland Power Inc. “If only we could combine those efforts, and avoid redundancy in the work, the multiplying effect would be incredible. We were quite taken by this idea. We felt we had to support it.”

The Temertys and the Temerty Family Foundation have generously donated $5 million to the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University to advance discoveries in the prevention, early detection and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The gift, which leverages Ontario Brain Institute matching funds to support the Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative, will fund a five-year study, led by Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Dean Dr. Michael Strong, principal investigator of the Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative and one of Canada’s leading ALS researchers.

“Never before, either here or worldwide, have experts in seemingly diverse diseases come together into a single collaboration to understand the basis, commonalities and distinguishing characteristics of these devastating disorders,” says Dr. Strong. “Our ultimate goal is to determine if, by studying the disease as a component of a larger whole, we can develop early treatment strategies long before the disease fully takes hold.”

Currently, one million Ontarians suffer from a brain disorder; one in three Canadians will be affected by a neurological or psychiatric disease, disorder or injury at some point in their life. Given Canada’s aging population and the high incidence and prevalence of neurodegenerative disorders, discovering methods of early diagnosis will make a significant impact on treatment therapies while alleviating the economic burden of the disease.

This gift resonates on a personal level for Mr. Temerty, whose mother passed away from ALS nearly two decades ago. “Right from that time on,” he says, “I started to look for opportunities to support research. That’s where it started, and it has continued to this day.”

The Temertys have a long history of philanthropy, led primarily by investments in health-care research. While this is the first Western University project the Temertys have supported, the family connection to the University is not new. Their daughter, Leah (Temerty) Lord, BA’02, and son-in-law, Michael Lord, BA’01, both graduated from Western affiliate, Huron University College.

“We are extremely pleased and thankful to the Temerty Family Foundation for their confidence and support through this significant gift,” says Western’s President and Vice-Chancellor Amit Chakma. “At Western, we believe that research and discovery are keys to creating the potential to significantly improve people’s lives.”

This article appeared in the Winter 2014 edition of Impact Western
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