The Schizophrenia Society of Canada Foundation (SSCF) was founded in 1994 with a generous donation from the late Dr. Michael Smith. Dr. Smith’s donation of half of his Nobel Prize Laureate monies was used to help form a research fund. It is a legacy that continues to inspire others to invest in research initiatives today.
Our mental health foundation’s main focus is to fund research in the areas of molecular genetics, imaging and biochemistry of the central nervous system and psychosocial rehabilitation, with special emphasis on early psychosis and schizophrenia. Since 1994, SSCF has funded 16 multi-year fellowships.
Research is a key component to our understanding of schizophrenia. There is as yet no accepted biologic validation of, or laboratory test for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. The human suffering, family tragedies, and financial burdens caused by schizophrenia represent a tremendous challenge for the scientific community. Insights into the etiology of schizophrenia are becoming more sophisticated with molecular genetics, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, brain imaging and psychopharmacology studies representing important avenues for current research. Additionally, it remains vitally important to continue with psychosocial research as biomedical and psychosocial research investigations are complimentary. Currently there are thus two streams of funding available from the SSCF, both of which must relate to schizophrenia and/or early psychosis: the biomedical and the psychosocial stream.
Our Foundation’s research funds are derived directly from interest generated from donations, some of which are restricted in terms of the areas of research that can be funded. An objective of SSCF has always been to leverage research funds and to ensure a credible process for making decisions on which research fellows or projects to fund. We have had success with this goal in a past partnership with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). This allowed support of promising PhD candidates in the area of biomedical research for a three-year period, while the other was designed to provide a “top up” of the best project in an open competition that is relevant to psychosocial aspects of schizophrenia. This example of a successful collaboration illustrates what can be done to ensure optimal research in Canada exists.
The personal and family suffering together with the rising costs, underscore the need to continue with research into our understanding of this illness. With the minimal funds to support mental health research available to in Canadian researchers, any donations to the SSCF is always greatly appreciated.