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Sunnybrook’s new Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre: Q & A with Dr. Anthony Levitt

Written by Jennifer Palisoc

Construction is well underway on Sunnybrook’s new Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre, which will be a world-class, leading-edge facility that will break new ground in the approach to brain health in innovation and patient care.

Dr. Anthony Levitt, chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program, shares his insight on the new centre and how it will make a difference for patients, families and health care teams.

Dr. Anthony Levitt

Dr. Anthony Levitt.

What is the Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook?

Sunnybrook’s new Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre will be the first centre of its kind in Canada that will bring together experts from across the field of brain sciences under one roof.

This means psychiatrists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, otologists and other brain sciences experts will be working in a state-of-the-art facility to not only enhance the discovery of new interventions for patients, but also research and innovation in brain sciences for the most challenging brain disorders of our time such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), mood and anxiety disorders, and other conditions.

The new Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook is where we will revolutionize the future of brain health.

What makes the Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre unique?

At Sunnybrook’s Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre, there will not be a distinction between mental health and physical health. Both body and brain will be considered as a whole – brain health is health.

The physical space will be unique because typically experts are located throughout the hospital or the city. The Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook will enable brain sciences experts to collaborate in one building allowing for a greater interdisciplinary approach to care, research, and education in the brain science field.

How will the new centre make a difference as the COVID-19 pandemic continues?

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on the mental health of individuals of all ages. Throughout the pandemic, experts in Sunnybrook’s department of psychiatry have continued to support patients and families with mental health and addictions concerns by providing them with virtual and in-person care, as needed.

When built, Sunnybrook’s Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre will continue to provide comprehensive care to patients across the age spectrum. The Murphy Family Centre for Mental Health at Sunnybrook will provide expert inpatient treatment and support to adolescents, adults, and the elderly in a comforting and caring space.

Research investigating the affect of the pandemic on mental health will continue, as well as research at Sunnybrook’s Hurvitz Brain Science Research Program which is investigating the long and short-term impacts of COVID-19 on the brain.

What will Sunnybrook’s new Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre mean for patients and their families?

For patients and families, the new building will ultimately mean that all of the experts will be in one building, which will mean a more streamlined process.

For example, if a patient with complex brain disorder is referred to the centre with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and major depression, the patient will not only be able to see a neurologist, they will also have the opportunity to seek treatment from a psychiatrist.

The health-care team will be able to take a cross-disciplinary approach to the care they provide. Perhaps the patient will need to be admitted as an inpatient in the Murphy Family Centre for Mental Health, or perhaps the health-care team will reach out to a neurosurgeon in the centre for further examination and collaboration that could lead to a recommendation for participation in a groundbreaking innovative clinical trial that could perhaps alleviate symptoms or lead to improved interventions for the patient’s condition.

This is an incredibly exciting time in brain medicine. Experts from across the field will be collaborating and moving forward in treatment, research and education with an interdisciplinary approach. This wasn’t always the case in brain medicine. Typically, each discipline focuses on its own specialty, but we know that collaboration can lead to more innovation, as well as the development and discovery of novel interventions for patients. We are thrilled about this new era in brain health.

Learn more about Sunnybrook’s Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre »

View construction milestones of the Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook »

About the author

Jennifer Palisoc

Jennifer Palisoc is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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