Government of Canada announces $38.3M research investment to support brain health

News release

New research initiative will focus on the aging brain and the complex care needs of older adults with dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment

March 16, 2023—Toronto, Ontario—Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Dementia is having a substantial and growing impact in Canada and around the world. Based on current trends, by 2030, the number of people living with dementia will nearly double.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the best quality of life for the aging population in Canada by addressing the challenges of aging and brain health issues, including dementia.

Today, the Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Seniors, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, announced a $38.3 million investment over five years through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aging for a new Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging (BHCIA) Research Initiative.

This new initiative will support the latest areas of research to study the brain as it ages and identify what can be done to reduce the risks of dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment. Through the development and launch of strategic funding opportunities, the initiative also aims to improve the care and services for people living with cognitive impairment, including dementia as well as improve the wellbeing of their caregivers and care providers.

The BHCIA Research Initiative is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and partners, including the Azrieli Foundation and its Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence (CCCE), the Weston Family Foundation , the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Brain Canada Foundation and the BrightFocus Foundation.


“As we all age, protecting our safety while maintaining our wellbeing is crucial for a good quality of life. Through this new Research Initiative, we are supporting better care and services for those living with cognitive impairment, including dementia while ensuring the wellbeing of their care providers and caregivers. By supporting innovative projects and research across the country, we are helping improve health outcomes for people living with brain health issues, including dementia, and contributing to a better quality of life for them, their families, and caregivers.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

“We all know someone affected by dementia or other cognitive impairments and the profound challenges it poses for seniors, their caregivers and families. Research is critical to help us to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat dementia, and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by it. By doing so, we can create more inclusive communities where people living with cognitive impairment and their caregivers feel valued and supported."

The Honourable Kamal Khera
Minister of Seniors

“Every hour nine seniors are diagnosed with dementia in Canada. Our government is committed to improving the quality of life of those affected by neurodegenerative diseases by investing in research that will make the strongest possible impact on the health care of Canadians, particularly seniors. This $38.3 M funding for the BHCIA research initiative through the CIHR aims to transform our understanding of brain aging & dementia and improve healthcare providers’ approach to brain health care.”

Francesco Sorbara
Member of Parliament for Vaughan-Woodbridge

“Through the CIHR Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging Research Initiative, researchers will identify and address challenges and knowledge gaps related to age-related cognitive impairment, and bring us closer to understanding, preventing and effectively treating dementia and other forms of cognitive disease. From knowledge creation to implementation, this research will transform current approaches to care for those living with dementia and support for their caregivers.”

Dr. Jane Rylett
Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aging

"Given that most Canadians are in some way affected by dementia, this CIHR research initiative is significant. It joins together the collective strengths and concerns of an impressive array of government and non-profit partners, and it will provide researchers a platform to think creatively about ways to reduce dementia’s prevalence and improve access to care services. Importantly, it will consider the well-being of family-and-friend care partners, who are foundational to dementia care, but receive less attention to their own needs than is warranted."

Dr. Tamara Daly
Director, York University Centre for Aging Research and Education

Quick facts

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and contributes to a majority of dementia cases.

  • The BHCIA Research Initiative is one of several ways CIHR supports brain health and dementia research. Between 2016-17 and 2020-21, CIHR invested more than $212M in dementia research, including $49M in 2020-21 alone.

  • In 2023, CIHR will establish the Dementia Research Funders Alliance to enhance collaboration and the research impacts of the BHCIA Research Initiative. The Alliance will bring together brain health and dementia funding partners in Canada to identify and act upon common interests in brain health and dementia research, highlight research gaps and needs, and circulate the knowledge gained through dementia research.

  • Canada’s National Dementia Strategy, released in 2019, aims to prevent dementia, advance therapies and find a cure, and improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their caregivers. The strategy relies on the collaborative efforts of many organizations and individuals across the country including federal, provincial, territorial, and local governments; advocacy groups; researchers; health care providers; and academics. The Government of Canada will continue to work collaboratively with these organizations and individuals on the implementation of the strategy.

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Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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