Backgrounder – What is the Canada FASD Research Network?

The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network (CanFASD) is a formally and informally connected group of professionals from a range of research sciences, and located across Canada. It is Canada’s first comprehensive national Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) research network and has been in operation since 2005. CanFASD is a Canadian charitable organization.

CanFASD was created as a main focus of a continuing government alliance of the four western provinces and three northern territories called the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership (CNFASDP). This Partnership has been working together since 1998 towards the development and promotion of an inter-jurisdictional approach to diagnosis, prevention, intervention and care and support of individuals who are affected by FASD.

After eight years of increasingly successful and high profile operation, CanFASD is now a national Canadian charitable organization whose vision is to support Canada’s leadership in addressing the extraordinary complexities of FASD. Its mission is to produce and maintain national, collaborative research designed for sharing with all Canadians, leading to prevention strategies and improved support services for people affected by FASD.

CanFASD creates, nurtures, and sustains a collaborative environment and unique partnership able to bring together many scientific viewpoints to address FASD, with a focus on ensuring that research knowledge is translated to community and policy action. It works through four cross-jurisdictional research teams that are focused on the areas of diagnosis, intervention and prevention and connects researchers, graduate students and practitioners from communities and institutions across Canada and internationally.

Working in partnership across the country, CanFASD is collaborating with other national entities concerned with FASD, including the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and NeuroDevNet. PHAC is the Government of Canada agency responsible for public health in Canada and funds a number of programs and activities related to FASD. NeuroDevNet is a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), dedicated to helping children overcome neurodevelopmental disorders. CanFASD researchers are taking part in most of the FASD research projects across Canada. Our researchers currently lead 25 major projects related to FASD prevention, intervention and diagnostics.

Why is research on FASD important?

FASD is recognized as a significant issue in Canada. It is currently the leading known cause of developmental disability in Canada and has life-long impacts. Governments are working to measure prevalence and to determine the most effective intervention and prevention programs. Every year, millions of dollars are spent in an attempt to improve outcomes for affected individuals and their families. However, we do not have a clear understanding of the most effective supports nor the capacity required to deliver cost-effective, accessible and sustainable prevention, intervention and diagnostic services.

By working with researchers, partners, parents and caregivers, program and service delivery staff, communities, bureaucrats, and political leaders, the research evidence generated by CanFASD can help answer questions that are meaningful about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of FASD and help set the foundation for the development of increasingly effective programs and policy development.

Who funds the Canada FASD Research Network?

CanFASD is funded in part by the CNFASDP, the Province of New Brunswick, as well as by external research grants. In 2012, CanFASD research teams generated over $3.8M in external funding for research projects.

Who is the Executive Director?

Find out about Ms. Audrey McFarlane

Who is the Scientific Advisor?

Find out about Dr. Alan Bocking

Who are the Leads of our Research Teams?

Find out about our Researchers

Who are the Board of Directors?

Find out about our Board of Directors

Who are CanFASD Partners?

Find out about our Partners

Media Interviews

Members of CanFASD are available to speak to the media on topics of interest including the research, community development and knowledge mobilization. For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact Audrey McFarlane, Executive Director, at