Brain Canada’s Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program to fund new cohort of early-career researchers

Twenty early-career researchers from across Canada will receive $100,000 each in funding for innovative projects to better understand the brain, through one of Brain Canada’s flagship programs Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research. In its third year, this signature program is anchored by a generous gift from the Azrieli Foundation, with support from the Alvin Segal Family Foundation, The Arrell Family Foundation, The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust, and The Erika Legacy Foundation.

“As a nation, we are among the world’s five most active countries in neuroscience,” says Brain Canada President and CEO, Dr. Viviane Poupon. “By funding early-career research in conditions ranging from epilepsy to depression to multiple sclerosis, Canadian researchers will continue to contribute to major scientific advancements in brain science that will further the field both nationally and internationally.”

The ultimate goal of the Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research program is to reduce the social and economic burden of neurological and mental health problems through prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment. This year, the 20 grant recipients are investigating a diverse range of brain disorders and diseases. From studying gene therapy for Huntington Disease, to examining the brain structures behind eating disorders in adolescents, to fighting memory loss, these forward-thinking leaders are contributing to significant improvements in the lives of people in Canada.

“I am motivated to study the brain by my day-to-day interactions,” says Dr. Lindsay Cahill, Assistant Professor at Memorial University and a 2021 Future Leader in Canadian Brain Research. “Everyone knows someone who is impacted by a brain disorder.”

Dr. Cahill, much like the 19 other 2021 Future Leaders, thinks outside the box. There is a gene therapy treatment for Huntington Disease, but it suppresses both mutated and healthy genes. Dr. Cahill wants to see if a similar therapy that targets only the mutated copy would be a more effective strategy to treat patients.

2021 Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research

For this competition, a total of 116 candidates from across the country submitted letters of intent which were evaluated by a peer review panel. Forty-seven researchers were subsequently invited to submit full, comprehensive grant applications, with the 20 grant recipients chosen after a second round of peer review.

Grant Recipients:

  1. Dr. Philippe Albouy, Université Laval, Working Memory
  2. Dr. Lindsay Bodell, Western University, Eating Disorders
  3. Dr. Elie Bou Assi, Université de Montréal, Diagnosing Epilepsy
  4. Dr. Vincent Breton-Provencher, Université Laval, Learning & Decision-making
  5. Dr. Lindsay Cahill, Memorial University, Huntington Disease
  6. Dr. Carlos Camara Lemarroy, University of Calgary, Multiple Sclerosis
  7. Dr. Annie Ciernia, The University of British Columbia, Gut-Brain Interaction
  8. Dr. Michèle Desjardins, Université Laval, Cognitive Decline in Aging
  9. Dr. Catherine Duclos, Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal, Safer Anesthesia
  10. Dr. Emma Duerden, Western University, Fetal & Neonatal Brain Development
  11. Dr. Alexandre Fisette, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Brain Networks & Obesity
  12. Dr. Federico Gaiti, University Health Network, Brain Tumour Biology
  13. Dr. Rishi Ganesan, Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, Delirium in Critically Ill Children
  14. Dr. Jiami Guo, University of Calgary, Cellular Response to Brain Injury
  15. Dr. Karl Klein, University of Calgary, Gene Mutation & Epilepsy
  16. Dr. Julien Muffat, The Hospital for Sick Children, Genetics of Brain Disorders
  17. Dr. Aislin Mushquash, Lakehead University, Accessible Youth Mental Health Support
  18. Dr. Shaun Sanders, University of Guelph, New Treatment for Brain Cancer
  19. Dr. Ashlyn Swift-Gallant, Memorial University, Sex Bias in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  20. Dr. Christoph Zrenner, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Brain Stimulation for Brain Disorders

To learn more about this year’s cohort of Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research and to read about their projects, visit our directory of funded research.

These Canadian-based projects have been made possible by the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada Foundation, and the Azrieli Foundation, the Alvin Segal Family Foundation, The Arrell Family Foundation, The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust, and The Erika Legacy Foundation.

The CBRF increases Canadians’ support for brain research and expands the philanthropic space for supporting brain research to achieve maximum impact. To date, Health Canada has invested over $145 million in brain research through the CBRF which has been matched by Brain Canada Foundation and its donors and partners.