Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI)


The Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI) is a research program designed to investigate similarities and differences of dementia among five diseases that will improve the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegeneration. To date, ONDRI has focused on the following five diseases that are associated with dementia: Alzheimer’s disease/mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and vascular cognitive impairment (resulting from stroke).

ONDRI is a provincial collaboration between more than 80 of Ontario’s world-class neurodegenerative disease researchers and clinicians, four patient advocacy groups, the industrial sector, and more than 15 clinical, academic and research centres carried out in partnership with the Ontario Brain Institute.

Instead of only studying what’s unique, our long-term observational study is seeking out the common early indicators and risk factors of the five diseases.

Our mandate is to ensure that the findings from the data collected are transformed into new diagnostic methods that will help detect diseases earlier, improved clinical practice that puts patients first, and eventually new effective treatments that will slow the diseases from progressing or even prevent the disease so people can continue to enjoy the later years of their lives.

More than 600 participants will be followed for up to three years and will complete assessments for genomics, gait and balance, eye measurements, neuropsychology, and neuroimaging and will donate their data to a comprehensive integrated data management system called Brain-CODE.

Importance of our research

The human population is rapidly aging and the cost of caring for dependent elderly will profoundly affect social and healthcare systems. Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability and debilitation in Canada’s senior population. It costs Canadians billions of dollars per year – a figure expected to grow tenfold during the next 20 years including a tenfold increase in demand for long-term care. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 Canadians will develop dementia in the coming year and that more than 500,000 Canadians are currently afflicted. Tools for earlier diagnosis and disease-modifying interventions are needed now to alter these alarming trends. Early diagnosis can provide valuable time to put in place intervention strategies and treatments that can delay and soften the impact of neurodegenerative disease. ONDRI is looking for earlier predictors.