CCNA Team 13: Frontotemporal dementia

Dr. Robin Hsiung’s research is part of the Canadian Consortium for Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) initiative funded by a national partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and 14 organizations from the public and private sectors across Canada, including MSFHR. The CCNA was created in 2014, bringing together more than 350 clinicians and researchers from across Canada. Organized into 20 teams based on their area of specialized expertise, researchers will focus on preventing and delaying the onset of dementia, as well as improving the quality of life for the estimated 560,000 Canadians affected. MSFHR is also supporting the research of two other BC-based researchers leading CCNA teams: Dr. Neil. Cashman (protein misfolding) and Dr. Cheryl Wellington (lipid and lipoprotein metabolism).

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a progressive neurodegenerative syndrome, and the second most common cause of young-onset dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. FTD is an umbrella term for a diverse group of disorders characterized by the gradual wasting away of the brain’s frontal and anterior temporal lobes, progressively affecting mental function, personality and behaviour, while leaving memory largely intact.

Dr. Ging-Yuek Robin Hsiung, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine (Division of Neurology) at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and staff neurologist at the UBC Hospital Clinic for Alzheimer and Related Disorders, is leading the CCNA Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) Team.

The team of more than 15 researchers from 8 institutions across Canada will examine the factors that cause FTD and explore new laboratory and imaging techniques to help identify and distinguish the various types of dementia. The goal of the FTD team includes establishing a registry of FTD subjects from across Canada that will contribute genetic and epidemiological information and organized into a national repository of samples. The data will provide important insights into related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as other more uncommon brain disorders including ancorticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).