Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries to Fund $1.35 Million for Canada-Israel FASD Research at IMRIC

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CFHU and IMRIC News Release

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FASD announcementMay 27, 2014, Winnipeg, Manitoba – Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is providing $1.35 million towards research aimed at improving early diagnosis, intervention and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The funding is awarded to the Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium (CIIFAC), made up of research teams from the University of Manitoba and the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC), Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The research consortium was made possible through the work of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU), which was instrumental in bringing together all of the stakeholders.

The CIIFAC’s research is focused on:

  1. Better understanding the susceptibility factors for FASD including genetics, nutrition, and socio-economic factors in order to offer improved prevention strategies.
  2. Developing new tools for diagnosing FASD earlier in order to improve outcomes for individuals, families and communities.

“People with FASD are all unique. They have different gifts and talents but they also have different challenges. We want to provide families living with FASD the services and supports they need to live successfully – and to support women to have healthy pregnancies,” said the Honourable Kevin Chief, Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities. “This funding from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries supports our government’s cross-departmental FASD Strategy, and will bolster world leading research here in our province.”

“Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is very pleased to support this important research,” said Winston Hodgins, President and CEO of Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. “Our corporation is committed to social responsibility and has implemented FASD-related public awareness programs for many years. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy is directly related to the development of FASD – therefore, we are committed to FASD research and prevention.”

Murray Palay“We are delighted at the continued success of the partnership for FASD research between the University of Manitoba and the the Institute for Medical Research Israel - Canada at the Hebrew University,” said Rami Kleinmann, President and CEO, CFHU. “The funding from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries speaks to the importance of collaborative research in addressing the complex medical and social implications of conditions such as FASD.
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries commits two percent of annual net income for liquor and gaming social responsibility programs in research, education, and awareness. This year, that amounts to $11.6 million.
“This new funding strengthens our research partnership on FASD with the Hebrew University,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba. “Our research teams are seeking innovative approaches to understanding FASD in an effort to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities affected by FASD in Manitoba and beyond.”
The $1.35 million supports three research projects, led in Manitoba by Drs. Brenda Elias, Geoff Hicks, and Miyoung Suh. Together, the projects aim to:
  1. Understand the role of genetics to identify children affected by FASD at a younger age. This would allow earlier intervention and support.
  2. Understand the role of nutrition in mitigating the risk and reducing the effects of FASD when women consume alcohol during pregnancy.


Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Symposium

About FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol while pregnant. The effects can include lifelong physical, mental, cognitive and behavioural disabilities. FASD is often called a “hidden” or “invisible” disability because most people affected do not have noticeable physical features.

Individuals with FASD are more likely to have trouble with

  • Memory
  • Understanding cause and effect (consequences)
  • Getting used to changes in routines
  • Sensory stimulation - handling a lot of different sensations or feelings at one time
  • Learning life skills
  • Forming and keeping healthy relationships

FASD is complicated and not fully understood

  • Not all children exposed prenatally to alcohol develop FASD
  • Nutrition may play a role in the severity or prevention of FASD
  • There may be a genetic component to the expression of FASD
  • The extent and prevalence of FASD is unknown due to the limitations of current diagnostic tools

FASD has a significant impact on the community

  • Over-representation of FASD affected people in justice system
  • Increased educational demands
  • Growing burden on healthcare system
  • Increasing pressure on families
  • Higher social services burden
  • Lifetime cost of FASD is estimated at $1 million per case

    (~4,000 new cases yearly = $4 billion annual increase)

About the Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium

On a mission to Israel, Premier Selinger and other Manitoba leaders recognized that the pioneering research on embryo development at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem combined with Manitoba’s FASD expertise had the potential to revolutionize the prevention and diagnosis of this disorder.

A $3.0 million research initiative between the Province of Manitoba, Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of Manitoba and Hebrew University was created and called the Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium (CIIFAC). The focus of the research is on the role of nutrition in mitigating the risks and reducing the effects of FASD.

Research Topic

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the leading known cause of developmental disability in Canada. Innocent children contract this disorder due to maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.