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Drummond Foundation invests in Concordia's PERFORM Centre

Gift will help researchers look into how we can support our vulnerable aging populations
May 14, 2018
By Daniel Bartlett

When Bruce McNiven, president of the Drummond Foundation, first visited Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, he recalls how impressed he was by the clinical research facility’s energy and dynamism.

Bruce McNiven, president of the Drummond Foundation Bruce McNiven is president of the Drummond Foundation, which has thrown its support behind two PERFORM Centre projects related to aging populations.

“PERFORM is very creative and alert to the prospects of public and private partnerships,” says McNiven. “As a society, we need to understand how to leverage private funds for public purposes. Concordia has a clear sense of that and is doing it well.”

Located on the Loyola Campus, the PERFORM Centre is a distinctive facility dedicated to improving health through prevention. The centre brings together researchers, students and participants to create an integrated and comprehensive environment that promotes healthy living.

The Drummond Foundation decided to offer financial support totalling $106,400 to Concordia, of which $66,900 is for two of the PERFORM Centre’s research initiatives. Both projects will address issues related to aging populations and are being led by Claudine Gauthier, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, and Lisa Kakinami, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

“This gift enables our PERFORM Centre’s researchers to positively impact the lives of aging Canadians,” says Concordia President Alan Shepard. “We are deeply grateful for the Drummond Foundation’s contribution to these projects that call for improved care and support for this key population.”

Direct care for the elderly

The Drummond Foundation’s origins date back to the late 19th century, making it one of the oldest charitable foundations in Montreal. In 1893, George A. Drummond and Lady Julia Drummond purchased the Notman House in order to establish a home for the benefit of elderly women living alone. The prominent Scottish entrepreneurs financed a plan to extend the house and named it St. Margaret’s Home.

After operating under the Drummond Trusts for close to a century, the home became a public institution in 1982 and moved to Westmount, Que. That’s when the foundation saw an opportunity to re-evaluate its program.

“We decided to use the relatively modest income that we had from the foundation to focus on three areas,” McNiven explains. “These include direct care for the elderly, social outreach programs and scientific research grants.”

Today the foundation provides seed money to research programs as a basis for securing more elaborate funding from major research-funding agencies.

For Gauthier, whose project aims to clarify the relationships between healthy aging, exercise and cognition, the foundation’s contribution will have a significant impact on Quebec’s elderly population.

PERFORM Concordia’s PERFORM Centre is dedicated to improving health through prevention. The Drummond Foundation is supporting two PERFORM Centre research initiatives related to aging populations.

“We know very little about what exercise does to the brain and how it links to preserved cognition in aging,” says Gauthier. “Thanks to the Drummond Foundation, I am now able to look at how exercise training changes vascular and metabolic health in the brains of older adults, and how that links with cognition.”

Kakinami is the principal investigator on the Diet for Arthritis project, which seeks to improve our understanding of eating behaviour among people living with arthritis. She agrees that the research grant will help many older Canadians, particularly those living with arthritis.

“The Drummond Foundation’s support is allowing us to conduct this pilot study alongside nutritionists and PERFORM Centre staff in an equal partnership,” says Kakinami. “This collaboration has enabled us to develop a project that is grounded in theory while incorporating the perspectives and knowledge of those who work directly with people living with arthritis.”

The future of philanthropy

McNiven believes that after the Second World War many Quebecers adopted the notion that it is the government’s responsibility to take care of health, social services and education. He says that by doing this, much got lost in the process, including the connective tissue between communities and the people who need help.

“I think we are evolving away from that,” McNiven says. “People and governments recognize that for things to be more effective, they need to partner with the private sector.”

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