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Major boost for brain health in Canada

CBRF News, News November 09, 2020

The 2019 Azrieli Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research 

Twenty neuroscientists in Canada have been awarded $100,000 each in research funding, as part of Brain Canada’s Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program. Anchored by a $5M gift from the Azrieli Foundation, this novel funding model enables paradigm-changing research of the brain to improve the lives of all Canadians.

“The program supports early-career investigators at a critical point in their professional development, so they can pursue new lines of research and gather data that will allow them to obtain further funding on the path to a sustainable independent research position,” says Brain Canada President and CEO Dr. Viviane Poupon. “This program really is helping to build the next generation of brain science leaders in Canada.”

The 2019 competition provides 20 grants of $100,000 each, which will be distributed over a period of two years, to power research in any field of neuroscience. Brain Canada will launch open funding competitions under this program every year for the next five years, ultimately supporting 100 early-career researchers and transforming the Canadian brain research landscape.

This year’s cohort of neuroscientists are involved in a wide range of projects, from basic science to clinical research, which examine the brain in health and in illness. Through their work, they are exploring brain injury, brain cancer and mental illness, as well as neurodegenerative disorders. They are studying how our brains develop, as well as the role neurotechnology can play in better understanding diseases and disorders of the brain.

“This grant competition is a transformative initiative at a time when there is a significant funding gap for our brightest early-career investigators,” notes Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair of the Brain Canada Board of Directors and Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “They are at a critical point in their careers: poised to make major contributions to Canadian brain research but in need of seed funding to gain experience.”

Funding for the Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research program has been provided by Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund. Since 2011, Brain Canada has had a major partnership with the Government of Canada, via Health Canada, which has contributed $120 million to match funds from Brain Canada’s private and non-federal partners, and dedicated a further $40M over two years starting in 2020-21.

2019 Azrieli Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Grant Recipients

Brain Canada rewards research excellence and innovation and is able to take risks to fund high-potential ideas. Funding recipients are selected through a rigorous two-stage national and international peer review process. For this competition, a total of 150 candidates submitted letters of intent which underwent peer review. Fifty-three researchers were subsequently invited to submit full, comprehensive grant applications, with the 20 grant recipients chosen after a second round of peer review. Learn more about the 2019 competition overview.

The 2019 Azrieli Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research grant recipients are conducting research at institutions across Canada.

1. Dr. Boris Bernhardt, McGill University
2. Dr. Mark Brandon, McGill University
3. Dr. Mark Cembrowski, University of British Columbia
4. Dr. Allen W. Chan, University of Alberta
5. Dr. Laurent Chatel-Chaix, INRS-Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie
6. Dr. Janelle Drouin-Ouellet, Université de Montréal
7. Dr. Christian Ethier, Université Laval
8. Dr. Marco Gallo, University of Calgary
9. Dr. Yasser Iturria Medina, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University
10. Dr. Robert Laprairie, University of Saskatchewan
11. Dr. Michael Mack, University of Toronto
12. Dr. Caroline Ménard, Université Laval/CERVO
13. Dr. Jeehye Park, SickKids Research Institute, University of Toronto
14. Dr. Aaron Phillips, University of Calgary
15. Dr. Jean-Francois Poulin, McGill University
16. Dr. Masha Prager-Khoutorsky, McGill University
17. Dr. Ravi Rungta, Université de Montréal
18. Dr. Jo Anne Stratton, Montreal Neurological Institute; McGill University
19. Dr. Sara Tremblay, University of Ottawa
20. Dr. Ryan Yuen, SickKids Research Institute; University of Toronto