Marking New Territory In Autism Research

Family honours daughter, and son with a $300,000 donation enabling the project

A new line of research to better classify autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is off the ground thanks to a $300,000 donation from the Dyck family, through the Kali Dyck Foundation.

The Dyck family, owners of Winnipeg-based agribusiness BrettYoung Seeds, have firsthand experience with ASD. Chad, one of two sons in the family, is autistic. Daughter Kali had a special bond with Chad until her tragic death in an automobile accident in 2011. The family established the Kali Dyck Foundation in 2017 to honour her memory.

This project is one of a set of Research Without Borders interdisciplinary collaborations between research teams at St. Boniface Hospital and Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, Israel.

“Today, diagnoses of ASD are based on behavior assessments that really don’t distinguish between different subtypes of the disorder,” says Dr. Harold Aukema, Principal Investigator, Nutrition and Lipid Mediators with the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research at St. Boniface Hospital’s Albrechtsen Research Centre.

“We know there are excellent biomarkers for various human traits that are both easily measured in blood samples and vary according to various biological conditions. If ASD subtypes can be identified through their unique blood-marker profiles, then medicine has a useful new system to research, diagnose and treat these disorders.”

Jackie Dyck said the family is thrilled to support a project with great potential to increase understanding of autism.

“Kali believed strongly in helping people with developmental disabilities. We can’t imagine a worthier way to honour Kali’s ideals than to fund this research.”

The donation is not only generous but forward-looking, said Vince Barletta, President and CEO of St. Boniface Hospital Foundation.

“When donors support research at St. Boniface Hospital, they’re investing in a better future for those who face some of today’s most debilitating conditions and diseases. We thank the Dyck family for this tremendous gift. ”

Erik Dyck