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Brain Matters: A Panel discussion about Brain Research Put on by CABGU March 29th 3:00 pm at Shaarey Zedek

Event Sponsored by Larry and Tovah Vickar

March 10, 2015



Please join us Sunday, March 29th 3:00 pm at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue.


Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University (CABGU) Presents:


Brain Matters: A Panel discussion about Brain Research, related injury and disease like Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, early detection and possible treatment.


Brain injury is a hot topic due to growing evidence that even mild trauma suffered in contact sports can have severe consequences. Yet the search is still on for effective medical and cognitive treatments for patients with brain injury.


A new diagnostic tool “dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging” (DCE-MRI)  for visualizing and assessing the types of head injuries commonly encountered in contact sports such as American and Canadian football and Hockey will be discussed.


There is news from Israel on two significant advances in the area of brain trauma, one for assessing the injury faster and better; the other for helping the brain’s rehabilitation process.


Dr. Alon Friedman’s team at the Brain Imaging Research Center at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva devised “dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging” (DCE-MRI), a new diagnostic tool for visualizing and assessing the types of head injuries commonly encountered in contact sports such as American football and hockey.


“Until now, there wasn’t a diagnostic capability to identify mild brain injury early after the trauma,” said Friedman. “In the NFL [National Football League], other professional sports and especially school sports, concern has grown about the long-term neuropsychiatric consequences of repeated mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and specifically sports-related concussive and sub-concussive head impacts.”


Sixteen members of Black Swarm, Israel’s professional American football team, as well as a control group of 13 track-and-field athletes from BGU, were examined using DCE-MRI. The technology, invented by BGU doctoral candidates Itai Weissberg and Ronel Veksler, is uniquely capable of generating detailed brain maps showing regions with abnormal vasculature -- leaking blood vessels in the blood-brain barrier (BBB).


Forty percent of the examined football players with unreported concussions had evidence of “leaky BBB” compared to 8.3 percent of the control athletes.


Friedman explained that the BBB is composed of proteins, membranes and other materials that protect the brain by preventing many dangerous substances from penetrating.


“The group of 29 volunteers was clearly differentiated into an intact-BBB group and a pathological-BBB group,” Friedman said. “This showed a clear association between football and increased risk for BBB pathology that we couldn’t see before.”


Friedman's group and other medical researchers are hoping to develop drugs to repair a damaged BBB and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases in some patients.


The results of the study were published in JAMA Neurology and could help physicians in the decision-making process regarding treatment and when an athlete may return to the playing field.


“Generally, players return to the game long before the brain’s physical healing is complete, which could exacerbate the possibility of brain damage later in life,” said Friedman, who researches the role of a damaged BBB in brain dysfunction and degeneration.


CABGU’s event will feature the following panelists:


Dr. Alon Friedman (MD-PhD) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Specialized in Neurosurgery at Soroka University Medical Center, Beersheva, Israel.

Professor at the Departments of Physiology and Cell Biology at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Faculty of Health Sciences and was acting director of the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience. Is leading the establishment of the new Interfaculty School for Brain Sciences, at Ben-Gurion University. In 2014 Dr. Friedman was appointed as the Dennis Chair in Epilepsy Research in the Medical Faculty at Dalhousie University in Canada. His research focuses on the pathophysiology of brain disorders, specifically the role of vascular pathology and blood-brain barrier dysfunction on the outcome of brain injury patients, including post-traumatic epilepsy, cognitive and emotional deficits.



Dr. Michael Ellis medical director of the Pan Am Concussion Program and holds clinical appointments in the Department of Surgery and Pediatrics and Section of Neurosurgery at the University of Manitoba. He is co-director of the Canada North Concussion Network and holds a scientist appointment at the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. His main research interests include the clinical epidemiology and management of pediatric sports-related concussion as well as the advancement of novel neuro-imaging and exercise science assessment tools in concussion.


Dr. Benedict Albensi is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Manitoba and serves as a Principal Investigator at the Synaptic Plasticity and Cellular Memory Dysfunction Lab in the Division of Neurodegenerative Disorders at St. Boniface Hospital Research.


Jason Dzikowicz played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1992-1994 as a Defensive Back. Throughout the course of his football career, Dzikowicz had 9 concussions and now experiences short term memory loss. He currently serves as President of the Blue Bomber Alumni Association.


Charles 'Chuck' LaFlèche, President and CEO of St-Boniface Hospital Foundation as well as co-host of The Health Report on CJOB 680, will be the Panel Moderator

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