Touring the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurological Diseases
It’s a rare treat for the public to get a peak into the world of neurodegenerative disease research. That’s why I was thrilled when the Alzheimer Society of Ontario invited me to its annual key donors’ tour of the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurological Diseases at the University of Toronto.
The Tanz Centre is at the forefront of global brain disease research so the tour was a great learning experience for me. We were invited into the labs and each professor gave a talk about their specific areas of research. It was so interesting to hear about the diagnostics processes, clinical trials that are progressing from mice to humans and the long, complicated process of testing new therapies. I began to understand how much work it took to get even a small research breakthrough.
But research needs money and being on this tour solidified my decision last year of making the Alzheimer Society of Ontario the sole beneficiary of my estate. My mother died of Alzheimer’s disease and the Society was so good and helpful that it made a difference in my life. The experience at the Tanz Centre was emotional for me. I could feel my mother’s spirit the whole time and heard her saying: “Way to go kiddo. You did the right thing and I’m proud of you.”
No matter what their area of research expertise, the researchers there were all passionate about finding a cure. I could see it in their eyes. It made me hungrier to help especially after finding out the youngest person recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease was only 16 years old. I learned about some of the breakthroughs and hopes for the future as well as the hurdles of working with the complexity of the brain.
One of the researchers, Professor Lili-Naz Hazrati, allowed me to actually hold a brain in my hands. She explained how needed and precious brain donations really are for researchers, and I found another way to help. It was a strange feeling to know the brain I was holding was once a person but also wonderful to learn there was a way to keep on giving.
The tour was a great experience and I am now even more confident that research, with the help of ongoing donations from the Society and individuals will lead to a day when fewer people suffer from Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Posted by Karen Del Degan