Core Facility and Technology Development Program: Mid-Term Renewal

As part of HBHL's 2020 midterm review, HBHL conducted a review of its eight previously funded core facilities and technology platforms. The review was based on the following process, which resulted in four cores/platforms being selected for renewal.

Cores and platforms that were not renewed were provided with feedback and invited to apply in the second round competition of the Core Facility and Technology Development Program.

1. External review

Each core facility or technology platform was reviewed by three non-McGill external reviewers, all of whom are experts in core facility management and operation. In addition, all cores and platforms were independently reviewed by an expert from McGill's Office of the Vice-President (Research & Innovation). All reviewers provided a score across seven evaluation metrics, as well as comments for each core or platform.

2. Internal review

The reviewers’ comments and evaluations from Step 1 were then reviewed by a small internal review committee, which consisted of HBHL management, two representatives from HBHL's Strategic Steering Committee and two McGill principal investigators with extensive core facility management experience. This group then submitted their own overall recommendations to the HBHL Strategic Steering Committee.

3. Strategic Decision

External reviews and internal review recommendations were discussed at a virtual meeting of HBHL's Strategic Steering Committee, excluding those members who were in conflict of interest, and a final consensus was reached.

HBHL Phase Two Renewed Core Facilities and Technology Platforms

Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank

Masked researcher preparing material for storage.

Principal investigator: Gustavo Turecki
Co-Applicant: Naguib Mechawar
Renewal amount:  $675,000 over three years

The Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank (DBCBB) currently houses over 3,500 brains from people with diverse psychiatric and neurological disorders (including schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and substance disorders) through special partnerships with research consortia. Alongside the physical samples, the DBCBB also features a large database containing demographic, clinical and developmental histories from the donors. As the DBCBB contains tissue from psychiatrically healthy individuals and from those affected with psychiatric and neurological disorders, it allows for unique discoveries on the human brain and human illnesses, but also for research conducted in animals to be translated to humans. The DBCBB is a unique and valuable resource that provides well-characterized brain samples to many researchers at McGill and elsewhere in Quebec, the rest of Canada and internationally, and it has enabled several ground-breaking discoveries.

McConnell Brain Imaging Centre

A team of three researchers posing in front of a large imaging machine.

Principal investigator: Julien Doyon
Renewal amount: $1,500,000 over three years

Affiliated with the Montreal Neurological Institute (The Neuro) at McGill University, the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre (BIC) is a one-of-a-kind, multidisciplinary neuroimaging centre recognized internationally for its advances in the acquisition and analysis of multimodal imaging data, as well as for its groundbreaking discoveries related to structural, functional and molecular mechanisms of the healthy and diseased brain. The BIC is currently composed of 29 world-class researchers and over 300 trainees and staff who collectively make a significant contribution to Canada’s impact on neuroscience and neuroimaging. Funding from the HBHL Core Facilities Grant is essential, as it allows partial coverage of the cost of several service contracts that maintain the BIC's technological and methodological platforms, including the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Unit, Preclinical MRI Unit, the Positron Emission Tomography Unit and the Radiochemistry Unit.

Montreal Neurological Institute Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU)

Researcher working with syringe and test tubes in the EDDU.

Principal investigator: Thomas Durcan
Co-applicant: Edward Fon
Renewal amount: $1,007,500 over three years

The objectives of the Montreal Neurological Institute's Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU) are to train the next generation of researchers on stem cells, translate fundamental research and technology into industry-standard assays and to work towards identifying new treatments for neurological disorders. Through these objectives, the platform hopes to accelerate a deeper understanding of neurodegenerative disorders, so that one day new therapies can increase patient quality of life and decrease the personal and financial burden on families and the health system. Working between industry partners and academics, the EDDU has developed unique training workshops, seminars and online methods to provide tools to researchers wanting to work with patient-derived stem cells. Using a suite of molecular, cellular and automated screening infrastructure, the EDDU has been able to work with researchers to develop industry-standard assays with input from industry partners. The EDDU has operated as an open science platform in order to freely share data and materials to speed up drug discovery and ultimately make a difference in the lives of patients.


Principal investigator: Jean-Baptiste Poline
Co-applicant: Bryan Caron
Renewal amount: $1,311,250 over two years and additional $600,000 for third year conditionally

NeuroHub is building an open neuroinformatics infrastructure to provide the scientific community with tools for efficient, collaborative and reproducible science across scientific disciplines. The platform will advance McGill’s efforts to become a global centre of excellence in data science research by not only including traditional datasets like neuroimaging and genomics, but also cohort and longitudinal data studies, behavioural studies, sociology and population data, and soft data extracted from existing publications. NeuroHub will also take advantage of existing technologies (such as LORIS, PopHR and Genome Centre databases) to enable complex brain information to be used alongside other data to stimulate new discoveries for the benefit of Canada’s population health. The platform aims to implement the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) and lead the development of international neuroinformatics standards and best practices.

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