Q&A with Dr. Lawrence Korngut, Chair of CAN-NMD
The following is an excerpt from Safeway and Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s Research in the Works 2014-2015.
Dr. Korngut (MD, FRCPC) is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Calgary and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He was one of the 11 principal investigators with a shared vision who joined together to apply for—and receive—a 3-year grant from CIHR’s Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis to develop CAN-NMD.
Q: What are the benefits of CAN-NMD for researchers and clinicians?
A: The main benefit is collaboration. Until now, there was no inventory of the national landscape of neuromuscular research. It was pure randomness, and as a researcher, you were not always aware of the exact scope of work going on—instead of knowing who was working on relevant material, you might be referred by intermediaries or connect by chance. That is a problem, because things are changing so fast that the window for performing research is narrow, and a delay may cause you to miss your chance. Also, you don’t want a researcher making a discovery but having it take 10 years to make its way to clinical practice. Collaboration can speed that up.
Q: What really excites you about the Network?
A: I think the most exciting part is the design. There is nothing like this for neuromuscular diseases in Canada. It is focused on the grass roots in how it convenes and identifies needs—and then how it addresses those needs. We want to engage the neuromuscular community: we will run focus groups across the country with people affected by neuromuscular disorders, and they will inform us about gaps in care. They are critical to the process.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I just want to make it clear that none of this would be possible without Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Zero percent. The first steps in creating a network like this are the hardest, and the impetus came from them—they took the active approach. Not everyone has the vision, capacity and courage to do this sort of thing. That is what I love about this organization: they do what is right, not just what is fiscally prudent.