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$2.85M to help scientists better collaborate in their quest to understand the brain

CBRF News, News February 23, 2021

Brain Canada is pleased to announce the awarding of its first 2019 Platform Support Grant (PSG) to Dr. Ravi Menon and his team at the Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping (CFMM) at Western University’s Robarts Research Institute. This funding will support Canada’s only collection of high-field and ultra-high field MRI systems, tools which will help neuroscientists better understand the brain in health, and in illness. Brain Canada will announce eight additional PSG grants in the coming weeks, as part of a more than $25 million investment in brain research.

High-impact research in the neurosciences requires skill, imagination, determination, and insight. Increasingly, it also requires access to shared equipment, facilities, services, databases, computing/informatics facilities, patient repositories, and biobanks; collectively referred to as “platforms”.

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.

“These platforms play a crucial role in enabling innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration in Canada and on an international level,” says Brain Canada President and CEO, Dr. Viviane Poupon. “As such, access to platforms is essential to address the evolving needs of research.”

Leveraging the full potential of the platform relies on the expertise of the staff operating it to make it accessible, and to ensure that performance and efficiency are optimized.

The CFMM enables the work of several hundred trainees and faculty members, from medical biophysics to education to music. This facility plays an important role in the research community, providing unique expertise and custom equipment to assist researchers in conducting cutting-edge neuroscience experiments. It is a tool that allows researchers to peer inside the brain to determine the characteristics of normal brain development and healthy ageing, while also establishing the brain basis of developmental, neuropsychiatric, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

“We require very expensive tools which are basically impossible for an individual scientist to support, but which many, many people at an institution or a region or even across the country might actually rely on,” says Dr. Menon, Professor of Medical Biophysics, Medical Imaging & Psychiatry and Co-Scientific Director of BrainsCAN, at Western University.  “Without the kinds of support that Brain Canada is currently providing through these Platform Support Grants, it could be very challenging for many core facilities in the country.”

Funding for this PSG is $2,850,000, and it has been made possible with the financial support of Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative partnership between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada, and the University of Western Ontario.

Learn more about this project in Brain Canada’s directory of funded researchers.