Partner profile: BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation

19 November 2013

More than 40,000 British Columbians – roughly one in 100 – are living with schizophrenia, a neurological disorder that distorts the senses and impairs cognition, making it difficult to distinguish what is real from what is not.

According to data compiled by the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS), schizophrenia accounts for one in every 12 hospital beds in Canada – more than any other medical condition – and costs Canadian society more than $6 billion per year in lost productivity and medical expenses.

To mitigate schizophrenia’s human and economic toll and to help patients reap the benefits of modern treatments, BCSS is a proud supporter of leading-edge health research. In 2013, MSFHR and the BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation partnered to jointly fund two post-doctoral research trainees working to improve our knowledge of schizophrenia in pursuit of better treatment options.

Dr. Anita Cote is a UBC researcher who is studying cardiovascular impacts, including metabolic syndrome, arising from the use of anti-psychotic medications in children. The goal of this research is to identify genetic markers of which children will develop risk factors for heart disease and stroke when treated with anti-psychotic drugs so that appropriate prevention strategies can be implemented.

UBC researcher Dr. Alfredo Ramos-Miguel is studying the impact of three brain proteins (known as SNARE proteins) on cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. These proteins can form tight, stable structures called SNARE complexes that have been found to be related to cognitive decline. Ramos-Miguel’s team is working to identify drug compounds that can disrupt these complexes and potentially relieve the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

In addition to supporting research through partnership with MSFHR, BCSS awards annual research grants and scholarships to young researchers studying schizophrenia and related conditions. The society has also raised the funds to endow the schizophrenia research chair at UBC.

BCSS was founded in 1982 by families and friends of people with schizophrenia. Since then, the society has grown into a province-wide family support system with 24 branches and more than 2,800 members. BCSS is dedicated to supporting those with schizophrenia, educating the public, raising funds for research, and advocating for better support services.

To learn more, visit