Everything brain imaging

Highlights

Our Centre gathers one of the largest scientific communities in North America dedicated to imaging of the human brain. Launched in 1984 by then Director of the MNI, Dr. William Feindel, with the generous aid of the McConnell Family Foundation, the BIC is now home to 150 staff and trainees and a large service platform of 7 cutting-edge instruments. Our Centre is widely regarded as one of the top brain imaging research centres in the world. In 1999 the BIC was acknowledged by the Smithsonian Institute for its contribution to medical research applications of high technology. We are a founding partner of the International Consortium for Brain Mapping and many other international initiatives.

Past and present Directors of the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre 

William Feindel

Alan Evans: 1994 to 1999

Julien Doyon: 2017 to present

Antoine Hakim

Bruce Pike: 1999 to 2013

Albert Gjedde

Sylvain Baillet: 2013-2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A unique platform for brain research

The centre is home to 150 staff and students, with 16 Principal Investigators (McGill faculty members), 27 support staff, and about 110 student trainees and post-doctoral fellows. As such, the BIC is both a large research centre and a platform serving the imaging needs of a wide community of scientists in the Montreal region and beyond. 

We provide unique access to all major imaging instruments and modalities (human and animals). The BIC has also a strong backbone of image processing expertise and large-scale analysis infrastructure, and it has tight connections with leading experts in other fields of neuroscience (from molecular biology and genetics to cognition) at the MNI, McGill, across the Quebec province and internationally. What makes the BIC even more unique is the integration of all these resources with the Montreal Neurological Hospital, a 60-bed facility with specialized neurology and neurosurgery clinics. The centre emphasizes quantitative multi-modal 3-D investigation of brain structure and function. Brain structure is imaged using anatomical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) while brain physiology is imaged using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), functional MRI (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG). The BIC maintains strong linkages with the clinical, clinical research and basic research communities within the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University and has collaborations across Quebec, Canada, USA and internationally.

The BIC is dynamic multi-disciplinary research environment where our faculty train graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from a range of McGill University departments including neuroscience, biomedical engineering, neurology, psychology, medical physics, computer science, chemistry and neurosurgery. Being housed within the “Neuro”, consisting of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, and having strong partnerships with the Douglas Hospital and Jewish General Hospital, we also benefit from deep interactions with our clinical colleagues that enable the investigation of all major neurological and psychiatric diseases.

A highly productive environment

Our researchers are recognized to be very productive academically, with 620 pubmed-indexed journal articles published and more than $40M received in project grants as principal investigators (PIs) or co-PIs, over the past five years (2008-13). Very importantly, the BIC facilities and expertise have enabled and promoted the scientific yield of a large community of 110 unique investigators, 20% from other academic institutions than McGill. Every year, the BIC performs >3,000 brain imaging scans to serve the needs of this strong user base of researchers. Scientists that benefit from BIC services are also very productive: we conservatively estimate that our users have published about 650 journal articles and raised about $46M in project grants over the past 5 years.     

From academic and clinical research to industry

BIC researchers are also successful in translating their research skills to industry: multiple spin-off companies were created by BIC PIs. The Centre has a long history of commercializing developments and translating them into routine research and clinical use. Follow this link for recent examples of successful commercial ventures founded by BIC researchers and trainees.

A broad impact on society

The broad societal impact of the BIC stems from the very nature of the research performed at the Centre, which is at the convergence between clinical and cognitive neuroscience and cutting-edge biomedical engineering and large-scale informatics. A salient example is in the development of new imaging biomarkers for a wide spectrum of neurological and neuropsychiatric syndromes including neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s), Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. In essence, specific biological markers of the efficacy of new drug molecules can be designed in our integrated radiochemistry laboratory before being imaged with our 2 positron emission tomography scanners (including a high-resolution scanner, one of 14 worldwide) or at our small-animal nuclear imaging facility. Subtle morphological changes between patient groups and healthy controls can be assessed with one of our 2 research-dedicated magnetic resonance imaging scanners at conventional or high field strengths. Rapid, millisecond neurophysiological activity can be tracked safely and non-invasively using our magnetoencephalography scanner (one of 7 in Canada), while fundamental imaging mechanisms are investigated with our animal-model team. Additionally, most of the 40+ clinical research trials currently performed at the MNI require brain imaging procedures that are completed at the BIC.

For all these reasons, the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre is a one-of-a-kind resource in Quebec and Canada to achieve fundamental progress in brain imaging science and techniques, while being an excellent vehicle for industrial transfer and collaboration.