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Naomi Azrieli outside wearing a scarf.

The Azrieli Foundation’s generosity fuels innovation

From wearable technology that helps kids with autism manage anxiety to brain-computer interface systems that allow users to control their environment with their thoughts, the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) is a hub of innovation for kids with disabilities.

But recently, restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that certain research projects have been put on hold, while others have faced unexpected barriers.

That is, until donors like the Azrieli Foundation stepped up to offer their support.

“At the Azrieli Foundation, we aim to make a difference in the areas that need it most. The researchers at  Holland Bloorview  are doing work  that isn't being done elsewhere, and the current public health crisis has put that at risk,” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. Moreover, the Azrieli Foundation and BRI couldn't be more aligned in their approaches.

“The Bloorview Research Institute is the perfect partner in the Azrieli Foundation’s efforts to advance the field of neurodevelopmental research. This is absolutely mission-driven for us.”

The Azrieli Foundation is Canada’s largest non-corporate Foundation. For over 30 years, the Foundation has funded countless projects in support of research and quality-of-life initiatives for the neurodivergent population.

And, with the COVID-19 pandemic delaying over 88% of on-site research activities, Dr. Azrieli and her team knew that their support was needed now more than ever. With a donation of just over $1-million, the BRI can continue its work in neurodevelopmental research.

“I could not be more grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for its donation during such an unprecedented time,” says Julia Hanigsberg, the President and CEO of Holland Bloorview. 

“Its support of neurodevelopmental research will allow our scientists to continue with the ground-breaking research that is sure to positively impact children and youth with disabilities.”

And Dr. Tom Chau, Vice President, Research and Director of the BRI couldn’t agree more.

“The Azrieli Foundation has helped the research institute weather inarguably our most challenging threat in our nearly 17 years of existence,” he says.

“This gift has allowed us to preserve the positions of highly trained research staff, support our new investigators who were negatively impacted by the pandemic, help with data recovery efforts on many projects, and upgrade our network and computer infrastructure to accommodate work-from-home.”

And, for the Azrieli Foundation, it’s the people that matter most as they strongly believe in the inclusion of people with disabilities, and supporting that through research.

“All of our initiatives are guided by the belief that every person deserves to live a full life to the best of their ability. Not only should every person be able to fulfill their potential, but we believe that their inclusion in our communities is for the benefit of all,” says Dr. Azrieli.

“We hope this donation will allow the amazing researchers at the Bloorview Research Institute to continue to research discoveries that will help people.”

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