Canadian Open Parkinson Network funding begins collaboration platform to accelerate Parkinson’s disease research and knowledge

Couple sitting together on a park bench, smiling.

Parkinson Canada and Brain Canada announced this morning the creation of the Canadian Open Parkinson Network (C-OPN), including a $2-million Platform Grant that will support the initial development and maintenance of a large-scale research network in the field of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Brain Canada receives financial support from Health Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund.

“Brain Canada is pleased to be a partner with Parkinson Canada on the Canadian Open Parkinson Network. This program follows the establishment of the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform, a national effort we initiated to link data across the country, and standardize how we collect, store and analyze this data," said Inez Jabalpurwala, President and CEO of Brain Canada. "The Parkinson registry and database will create the first national platform to capture data from those living with Parkinson’s, and make the data accessible to a wider number of researchers. The goal is to accelerate our already excellent Parkinson’s research in Canada, resulting in better patient outcomes.”‎

Parkinson’s disease affects over 100,000 Canadians, a number expected to increase substantially in the coming years. Through the important work performed and shared by researchers, the C-OPN will build capacity and increase awareness among all levels of government, healthcare professionals, the research community, health charities and the general public.

Dr. Oury Monchi at the University of Calgary has been appointed as Principal Investigator and Director of the C-OPN, which is a collaboration of the brightest minds in Parkinson’s research in Canada today. Dr. Jon Stoessl and Dr. Martin McKeown have been appointed Principal Investigators at the University of British Columbia. 

"We believe that pooling our resources and data (with appropriate provisions for privacy) with our colleagues across the country will result in breakthroughs in our understanding of Parkinson’s disease," said Dr. McKeown. "The number of Canadian Parkinson’s researchers is not so large that we fractionate into competing groups, but large enough that, collectively, we could have a significant impact when working coherently on problems affecting people living with Parkinson’s."

“Canada has a distinguished history of contributions to research in Parkinson’s and has consistently punched well above its weight," added Dr. Stoessl. "This willingness to pool our resources will represent another example of this forward thinking, but it is additionally true that in order to move to the next step, we will need to work collectively, as no single individual or centre can possibly solve all the challenging questions that remain.”

The Canadian Open Parkinson Network will include:

  • a patient registry with comprehensive clinical information
  • a database with information from diagnostics (imaging tests, MRI, PET scans), anatomical (neuroimaging, sleep, behavioural and neuropsychological information) and functional measurements
  • a biobank with patient biomaterials such as blood samples and DNA for genetic studies.

“Establishing the Canadian Open Parkinson Network is a top strategic priority for Parkinson Canada and I am inspired to see it take shape. Since 1965, Parkinson Canada has stood alongside Canadians with Parkinson’s and the health professionals who treat them. We are at the forefront of dialogue with government and policy makers to be a clear voice for people with Parkinson’s,” said Joyce Gordon, CEO, Parkinson Canada. “With more than 25 people diagnosed each day, we are reminded why establishing the Canadian Open Parkinson Network is critical now. It brings hope for a cure, and accelerated treatments over the next ten years and beyond, and it involves the very people whom researchers are trying to help.”