Neuroscience research takes steps forward with N.E.R.D. Run

Families and communities came together to run and support neuroscience health research on Sept. 19.

The N.E.R.D (Neuroscience Education Research Development) Run was organized by the University of Alberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute (NMHI) and co-hosted by Multisports Canada at William Hawrelak Park. The third annual fundraising event had a successful turnout with over 200 volunteers and runners participating.

“We aim to bring students, researchers, families altogether to run for brain research,” Karim Fouad, director of basic research and operations of the NMHI, said.

“We really want to break the barrier between people, that’s why we used the word ‘N.E.R.D.’ ‘Nerdy’ is a fun word now, it brings the people into the event, brings the fun in, people can dress up in their own way to interpretive ‘Nerdy’. I think it will make it easier for people to talk to each other at the event.”

Public participation and fundraising for the N.E.R.D. Run contributes greatly towards research, Fouad said. The researchers will be using the funds find treatments and cures, he added.The three main areas studied by Fouad and the NMHI are the neurogical disorders Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Because the disorders are so broad, not one single department can cover all the problems associated with them.

Surgeons, neuroscientists, physicians and physiotherapists are needed to care for those affected by the disorders, which is why events such as the N.E.R.D. Run are necessary, Fouad said.

“There are too many families and cases that we want to follow and the public needs to understand that we need their support to promote and conduct research,” Fouad said. “It will be a real challenge for us researchers to get funding from the government if the public doesn’t know the importance of neurological study as well.”

Christy Chong, a first year neuroscience student at the U of A, volunteered for the N.E.R.D. Run as a way to reach out to the community.

“Funding for brain research is really important since there’s so much that we don’t know about and brain disease could happen to anyone,” Chong said.

Saad Yousuf, a third-year PhD. student in pain medicine anesthesiology said he was running in the event because the money raised could lead to being one step closer to discovering new, effective forms of treatment.

Rebecca McCourt, a second-year Master’s student in clinical stroke imaging also participated in the run to raise awareness for mental health and neurological disorders. There’s so much neuroscience needs to learn, and the N.E.R.D. Run could help them get there, she said.

“The brain is one big science research frontier,” McCourt said. “There’s more we don’t know about than we know about it.”

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