Brain Canada is pleased to announce the awarding of a 2021 Platform Support Grant (PSG) to Dr. Vivian K. Mushahwar from the University of Alberta.

Together with the University of Alberta, Brain Canada is awarding $3.14M to support the SMART Platform, a state-of-the-art platform to advance foundational and translational neuroscience.  

Brain Canada’s Platform Support Grants are awarded to teams that are creating and/or enhancing centralized shared resources to increase access to equipment, expertise, data and protocols across research networks.

Injuries and diseases of the nervous system, like stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, have devastating effects and severely affect quality of life. They can make it difficult to perform movements like standing, walking or even turning in bed, and can even affect essential functions like communication or breathing. About 10% of Canadians currently live with a mobility impairment caused by a neurological condition and 72% of them do not feel that the therapies they are following are helping them recover their function. For about 500,000 Canadians, the consequences of their neurological condition render them unable to leave their house.  

Thanks to the great advances made in the fields of neuroscience, engineering and computer science over the last decades, it is now possible to develop innovative devices and rehabilitation therapies that should be much more effective in restoring the function of persons experiencing mobility impairment. However, for these discoveries to be made quickly and to have maximal impact, it will be critical to foster collaborations between neuroscientists, doctors, engineers, therapists, social scientists and computer scientists. 

At Brain Canada, we believe that the best way to drive innovation is for scientists across disciplines to work together. By providing this unique kind support for platforms in Canada, we help create the conditions for collaboration which will ultimately translate into improved health and quality of life for Canadians.”

Dr. Viviane Poupon, Brain Canada President and CEO

The Sensory Motor Adaptive Rehabilitation Technology (SMART) Platform at the University of Alberta houses unique and highly specialized infrastructure and skills, and focuses on research, development and translation of advanced neurotechnology and rehabilitation interventions for functional restoration, enhanced mobility, social participation and independent living. This PSG grant is led by Dr. Mushahwar, together with Dr. Mahdi Tavakoli, Scientific Co-lead; Dr. Nizam Ahmed, Clinical Co-Lead; Dr. Jacqueline Hebert, Education Co-Lead; Dr. Patricia Dolez, Commercialization Co-Lead; and Dr. Martin Ferguson-Pell, External Relations Co-Lead. It will allow the SMART Platform to be scaled to the national level, enabling researchers across disciplines to pool their knowledge, make new discoveries about the nervous system and develop effective technologies and rehabilitation therapies that can improve function. 

“With this funding from Brain Canada, the SMART Platform is poised to play a critical role in advancing discoveries and driving the development of neurotechnology and neurorehabilitation interventions,” says Dr. Mushahwar. “It will allow us to become a much-needed national resource to improve the lives of millions of Canadians and enable them to participate fully in society and the workplace.” 

Funding for this PSG has been made possible with the financial support of Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada. 

To learn more about the platform, please visit our directory of funded grants.