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Our Programs

We support research that fosters multidisciplinary collaboration and novel approaches, rewards excellence and innovation, and takes risks to advance high-potential ideas

Brain Canada's Research Programs

Brain Canada develops and implements transformative, original, and outstanding research programs that address areas critical to advancing brain research. Brain Canada is also committed to working with strategic funding partners with interests across the entire range of neurological diseases and injuries, mental illnesses and addictions. Check out our directory for a complete, searchable database of the projects we fund.

Types of grants

Platform Grants

Grants to sustain or enhance research platforms in areas such as neuroimaging and disease models to promote efficient sharing across research networks.

Capacity Building Grants

Grants for salary support, training and mentoring, and to convene the Canadian brain research community.

List of programs

Improving Health Outcomes and Quality of Life team grants

This Brain Canada initiative supports three-year team research projects that address improving health outcomes, including quality of life, over a reasonably short period of time. The competition is intended to provide opportunities for unorthodox collaborations between multidisciplinary teams of researchers (including social sciences), clinicians, allied-health workers, carers and patients.

Open Neuroscience Data Sharing Platform grant

This initiative will help support the development and maintenance of a large-scale neuroscience network as well as its operating costs for a period of three years. The platform grant will help bring together existing Canadian neuroscience platforms, initiatives and networks, and will allow them to link, leverage, enhance and expand to form an integrated network.
Project description

Azrieli Foundation


Brain Canada has partnered with the Azrieli Foundation on research programs related to neurodevelopmental disorders and on developing capacity in neuroscience research.

Azrieli Neurodevelopmental Research Program
This program is designed to support excellent systems or translational research in the area of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a special focus on Autism spectrum disorder and Fragile X syndrome. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to develop new diagnostics, treatment and prevention strategies for neurodevelopmental disorders, to reduce their economic and social burden on Canadians, and to improve the quality of life for those affected by neurodevelopmental disorders and their families.
Project descriptions

Early-Career Capacity Building Grant
This program is focused on investigators in the early stages of their careers. This program provides an opportunity to develop new lines of research on the fundamental properties and mechanisms of the brain and nervous system, to gather preliminary data and position these investigators for long-term scientific success.

The Chagnon Family

The Chagnon Family has partnered with Brain Canada to support a major ten-year project in the area of Alzheimer’s disease prevention titled Interventions for Prevention of Alzheimer disease and Related Disorders Team Grant . This represents the largest single grant in the area of prevention of Alzheimer’s disease ever made in Canada.
Project description

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation – Brain Canada team grants

  The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has collaborated with Brain Canada to support five research teams conducting research across the full spectrum of brain sciences. The teams are pursuing novel, transformative research aimed at improving our understanding of human nervous system function and dysfunction, and its impact on health. 
Project descriptions

ALS Society of Canada


In November of 2014, a partnership between the ALS Society of Canada and Brain Canada resulted in the largest one-time investment in research in the history of the ALS Society of Canada: a $20-million investment in a national research program. The Brain Canada and ALS Society of Canada partnership encompasses three jointly- funded programs; Arthur J. Hudson Grants for Translational Research; Career Transition Grant; and the Discovery Awards.

ALS Hudson Award
The program was designed to bring together researchers from across the country to accelerate therapeutic development by: 1) identifying and testing a relevant therapeutic target or candidate therapy and/or 2) addressing critical needs for early diagnosis and biomonitoring of clinical progression applied to clinical research. Research in all stages of development is welcomed, from basic/preclinical to phase I, II and III clinical trials.
Project descriptions

Discovery awards
The Discovery Grants program has been established to encourage new basic research focused on identifying causes of, or treatments for ALS and/or related neurological diseases, including primary lateral sclerosis, progressive muscular atrophy, and ALS/FTLD (ALS/frontotemporal lobar dementia). The spirit of this program is “high risk/high reward” and is aimed at independent investigator(s) proposing a novel research approach, supported by a sound rationale and feasible experimental plan, but not necessarily preliminary data.
Project descriptions

Career Transition Award competition
This program aims to identify and engage rising stars pursuing innovative research in labs and academic institutions in Canada. This award has the long-term goal of developing the next generation of scientists across various disciplines within basic and clinical sciences, contributing to knowledge generation and translation in ALS. The award will provide the necessary support to senior postdoctoral trainees as well as recently hired junior faculty members to secure or maintain a faculty job in Canada.
Project descriptions

Alzheimer Society of Canada

Brain Canada and the Alzheimer Society of Canada have partnered to fund investigators who are pursuing research within the area of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

New investigator Grants
This program supports individuals within the initial two years of their first faculty position who are pursuing careers in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research.

Career Change Grants
This program supports established investigators, who are new to the field of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and are interested in changing their research focus to this field. These investigators will be within the first two years of a career change and will be required to work collaboratively with a mentor who is an established researcher within the field.
Project descriptions 

Canadian Cancer Society

Brain Canada is collaborating with the Canadian Cancer Society to support research focused on brain and nervous system cancer.

Impact grants
The Impact Grant program is intended to contribute to the scientific idea ‘pipeline’ by supporting significant progression in cancer research programs that are anywhere in the continuum from basic high impact discovery to translational work of direct relevance to the clinic and beyond.
Project descriptions

Innovation grants
The Innovation Grant program is designed to support unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies to address problems in cancer research. Innovation projects will include elements of creativity, curiosity, investigation, exploration and opportunity.
Project descriptions

Innovation to Impact grants
The Innovation to Impact Grant program is intended to support the further development of significant findings based on the goals originally explored through a funded CCS Innovation Grant.
Project descriptions

CIFAR

Brain Canada and CIFAR are co-funding three brain-related programs totalling up to $20 million. Each of the three research programs consists of 10-40 leading researchers from around the globe who are answering fundamental questions about the brain and what it means to be human. The three programs are the Learning in Machines and Brains program; the Brain, Mind and Consciousness program; and the Humans and the Microbiome program. 
Project descriptions

CQDM

Brain Canada and CQDM have partnered on two initiatives linking neuroscience to the biopharmaceutical industry.

Focus on Brain
The goals of the program are to link academia with industry to support pre-competitive research that enhances bio-pharmaceutical R&D productivity, and to accelerate the development of new, safe, and effective drugs in neuroscience.
Project descriptions

Quantum Leap
The Quantum Leap program is intended to support outstanding translational research projects implementing state-of-the art technologies with very high potential impact in key areas of unmet needs within the biopharmaceutical industry.
Project descriptions

Kids Brain Health Network

Brain Canada partnered with the Kids Brain Health Network on the Developmental Neurosciences Research Training Awards program. The training award funds doctoral candidates and post-doctoral fellows performing research aimed at the origins, early detection, and effective treatment of brain development disorders. In addition to the award, the recipients will take part in the Kids Brain Health Network Training program, which endeavors to develop cross-disciplinary and collaborative skill sets for the next generation of scientists, clinicians, and health-service professionals.
Project descriptions

Heart and Stroke Foundation

Brain Canada has partnered with the Heart and Stoke Foundation (HSF) to fund two career-support initiatives:

Emerging Research Leaders Initiative
This program is for researchers transitioning from a post-doctoral fellowship to a junior professional position in the areas of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and/or respiratory health research.
Project descriptions

Grant-in-Aid (GIA) program
The GIA program provides operating funds to support important, pertinent, and novel research in the areas of heart disease and stroke. GIA funding promotes research discovery, exploration and innovation across all health research themes.
Project descriptions

Huntington Society of Canada

Brain Canada and the Huntington Society of Canada have partnered on an initiative that supports research projects that connect clinicians with scientists, and scientists with the HD community. The multi-disciplinary and multi-investigator approach is expected to maximize the opportunity for discovery and translational research that will speed up the search for treatments, while expanding the overall understanding of HD therapy in humans.
Project descriptions

MS Progression Cohort

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MS Society), Brain Canada and Biogen have partnered on an initiative to support an MS Progression Cohort that will provide a platform to address research questions related to the mechanisms of progression, treatments and the impact of MS. 

BRAIN Initiative

The BRAIN Initiative is part of a US Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. Brain Canada has partnered with the 10 NIH Institutes that are part of the NIH BRAIN Initiative to support the involvement of Canadian researchers in the NIH BRAIN Initiative.
Project descriptions

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens

Brain Canada has partnered with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal to support a collaborative research study that evaluates the effects of dance therapy on mental health.

Women’s Brain Health Initiative

The Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI) and Brain Canada have partnered to help translate and communicate the outcomes of brain research by engaging and educating Canadians on the importance of brain health. As part of the partnership, Brain Canada has sponsored three editions of the WBHI publication Mind Over Matter, focused on sex and gender and prevention. Brain Canada and WBHI have also co-organized 12 Millennial Minds events in Toronto designed to educate young Canadians on the importance of brain health and gender-based brain-aging disease research.

Mental Health Commission of Canada

Brain Canada has partnered with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to support a national project addressing the mental health needs of first responders, whose jobs commit them to persistent, repeated exposure to potentially triggering incidents.
Project description

 

Bell Canada

Brain Canada has partnered with Bell Canada on two initiatives related to mental health

National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety of Post-Secondary Students
Brain Canada and Bell Canada are supporting a project led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. 

Bell Mental Health Research Training Awards
This program funded 3 fellowships and 4 studentships in mental health research over a period of 3 years to further the understanding of mental illness and lead to new strategies for prevention and early intervention.
Project descriptions

 

CIBC

Brain Canada and CIBC partnered to fund 4 studentships and 3 fellowships in the area of brain cancer. In addition to aiding  trainees to develop  their  research  skills,  these  awards  have  helped  further  knowledge  on  brain  cancer development, diagnosis and treatment.
Project descriptions