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Major boost to brain research with new $4M grant to help advance the field of neuroscience

CBRF News, News April 07, 2021

Brain Canada is pleased to announce the awarding of a $4,275,000 2019 Platform Support Grant (PSG) to Dr. Yves De Koninck and team members from across the county for the Canadian Optogenetics and Vectorology Foundry, a consortium of research sites that aims to accelerate the development and dissemination of optogenetic and viral tools.

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. Brain Canada will announce additional Platform Support Grants in the coming weeks, as part of a more than $25 million investment in brain research this year.

Optogenetics, a technique involving the use of light to monitor and control neurons, holds countless opportunities for the future of neuroscience research, drug development, diagnostics, and treatment of brain disorders. By implementing a critical Design-Build-Test cycle, the tools developed through the platform will undergo testing in various models to optimize their application across species and disease models, including translation towards clinical application.

“The Canadian Optogenetics and Vectorology Foundry will bring together some of Canada’s most brilliant neuroscientists to explore and test these new tools in a variety of tissues,” says, Dr. De Koninck, Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience at Laval University. “We hope to fill a critical gap in advancing research for new light responsive genes and proteins, while also accelerating the path to gene therapies and the use of light to treat brain disorders.” says Dr. Marie-Eve Paquet, Director of the Viral Vector Core at the CERVO Brain Research Centre.

Results obtained from the testing of these innovative tools will be shared with the larger scientific community to foster collaboration and push Canadian and international neuroscience research forward. The initiative also supports broad dissemination of the optimized tools.

"We are very proud to support initiatives that champion the spirit of open science,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, Brain Canada CEO and President. “By sharing data and results with a range of different researchers, platforms like the Canadian Optogenetics and Vectorology Foundry have the potential to truly speed up scientific discovery and have a positive international impact.”

This Project 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 Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, Université Laval CERVO, McGill University, University of Calgary, and University of Ottawa.