After meeting Board Chair Allan Shaw and learning about the research DRMF was helping to drive in Atlantic Canada, Mike Durland was in. Joining the DMRF board in May of 2015, Mike has been an incredible advocate for medical research ever since, and an invaluable member of the DMRF community.
Volunteering his time on the board for the past three years, Mike has contributed a wealth of insight, guidance and networking opportunities to DMRF. Not only that, but in November 2016, Mike’s commitment to propelling medical research forward was further reinforced, when he and his wife Catherine donated an incredible gift of $500,000 to the Foundation.
Allocating $250,000 of their gift toward Alzheimer’s research, Mike and Catherine’s support continues to drive the groundbreaking research of Dr. Sultan Darvesh at Dalhousie. Passionately pursuing the work that could one day find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Darvesh recently made a crucial breakthrough that could see us making accurate diagnoses of the disease in living patients very soon. At present, doctors can’t be certain that a patient has Alzhiemer’s disease as opposed to another type of dementia until an autopsy is performed on the patient’s brain after death, making the study of treatment effectiveness and curative potential very difficult.
For Mike, whose father was diagnosed with dementia four years ago, Dr. Darvesh’s work hits very close to home. Together, Mike and Catherine are hopeful their support will help other families avoid the devastation they have faced as a result of dementia, through further advancements in this area of research.
In addition to Alzheimer’s research, Mike and Catherine’s gift has also supported the work of Dr. Jean Marshall, along with graduate students at Dalhousie University. With a focus on harnessing mast cells to regulate inflammation and immunity in humans, Dr. Marshall’s pioneering work has demonstrated the potential to prevent everything from food allergies to certain cancers, and to manipulate immune system responses to promote healing. Along with collaborators in Canada, Finland and the United States, Dr. Marhsall’s recent work has focused on the role of immune responses in dictating why some people are able to recover following a heart attack, or respond well to treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, while others are not. This knowledge could mean the difference between recovery or relapse for a range of conditions, and the development of novel, life-saving treatments.
“We’re proud to know that the beneficiaries of this funding will be given the opportunity to advance their exceptional research, and that they will have the financial wherewithal to complete their piece of the bigger health care puzzle,” says Mike.
Thanks to Mike’s dedication on the DMRF board, and he and Catherine’s remarkable gift, we can continue to move closer to a reality of effective prevention, detection and treatment for some of the most threatening diseases around the world.
“My father lost his battle with dementia, but our hope going forward is that others won’t have to," says Mike. "Illness affects all of us – families, friends and others – and it’s never been more apparent to us that health is an incredibly important part of the human condition. I can’t think of a more meaningful place to allocate our support.”