Discovery Fund Competition 1

Competition 1 Review Process

For this first competition in Fall 2017, each of the four HBHL Research Themes was invited to submit an application based on a series of workshops held in Summer 2017 in which research priorities were identified. A panel of fourteen peer reviewers from primarily international universities was established based suggestions provided by all applicants. Three to four reviewers evaluated each application and provided scores and comments. Applicants were asked to provide written responses to the reviewers' comments to improve the research proposals. Reviewer comments and applicant responses were discussed by the HBHL Strategic Steering Committee, which approved funding for all four applications. Individuals expressing conflicts of interest withdrew themselves from the evaluations and discussions as necessary. Disbursement of the funds began in Spring 2018.


Funded Projects

Theme 1: Integrative analytics for multi-modal, multi-scale neuroscience

Brain function depends on a delicate balance between physiological, genetic and environmental factors. How these factors interact and influence the brain and mind remains unknown. However, advances in technology and analytical methods, as well as the more widespread assessment of expressed traits in individuals, have created new opportunities to address this question. This project aims to develop an analytical framework using genetic data, different types of imaging and behaviour to understand and predict biological progression in healthy individuals and those suffering from neurological disorders. This involves using existing analytical tools to look at factors related to brain function and dysfunction. The research team is working together with other groups within HBHL to develop tools that can be used to research neurodegeneration, neurodevelopment and learning

Principal Investigator: Bratislav Misic

Co-PIs: Doina Precup (McGill), Celia Greenwood (McGill), Alan Evans (McGill), Jean-Baptiste Poline (McGill)

Collaborators: Alain Dagher (McGill), Julien Doyon (McGill), Lana Vasung (Harvard University), Pedro Valdes Sosa (Cuban Neurosciences Centre), Michael Hawrylycz (Allen Institute), Lesley Fellows (McGill), Michael Meaney (McGill), Karim Jerbi (Université de Montréal), Yasser Iturria-Medina (McGill)

Funding received: $1,500,000


Theme 2: A platform for biocomputational models of neurodegenerative disease

Recent research has caused us to re-think how we understand most, if not all, neurodegenerative diseases. It suggests that toxic misfolded proteins can travel through the brain's neuronal networks, but this idea remains controversial. This project seeks to answer several outstanding questions about Parkinson's Disease (PD) using an approach that combines cell biology, genetics, animal studies, clinical studies and computer research. Funding from HBHL will establish a platform to study PD and other neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases that involve the spread of toxicity through brain networks. Specifically, the project will: (i) look into how proteins can spread and become misfolded; (ii) collect data from patients with Parkinson's Disease and early-stage conditions; and (iii) create computer models to better understand protein spreading.

Principal investigator: Alain Dagher

Co-PIs: Edward Fon (McGill), Thomas Durcan (McGill), Peter McPherson (McGill), Ziv Gan-Or (McGill), Mallar Chakravarty (McGill), Louis Collins (McGill), Ronald Postuma (McGill)

Collaborators: Stefano Stifani (McGill), Gerhard Multhaup (McGill), Kelvin Luk (University of Pennsylvania), Bratislav Misic (McGill)

Funding received: $1,499,430


Theme 3: Brain plasticity mediating improved memories through online and offline stimulation methods in healthy adults and patients with a chronic neurological condition

Memories are a fundamental part of our identity because they guide our behaviour in everyday life activities. When the ability to form and maintain memories is disrupted, life becomes increasingly difficult and isolating. Many studies have been carried out to understand the mechanisms of memory formation, but there is still a lot we still don’t know about the brain processes by which this occurs or why it sometimes fails. This project intends to fill these knowledge gaps; advances in the field are extremely important because memory problems caused by ageing and disease have significant personal and economic consequences.

Principal investigators: Julien Doyon

Co-PIs: Robert Zatorre (McGill), Sylvain Baillet (McGill), Mallar Chakravarty (McGill), Étienne de Villers Sidani (McGill), Lesley Fellows (McGill), Madeleine Sharp (McGill), Julie Carrier (Université de Montréal), Adrian Owen (Western University)

Collaborators: Geneviève Albouy (KU Leuven), Philippe Albouy (McGill), Emily Coffey (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen), Nir Grossman (Imperial College London), Bradley King (KU Leuven), Bratislav Misic (McGill), Stephan Swinnen (KU Leuven)

Funding Received: $1,499,850


Theme 4: Translational neuroscience and Canadian society

This project aims to advance the position of neuroscience in the development of Canadian government policy by creating research programs that focus on important issues facing society. Its objective is to develop evidence-based public policy built around neuroscience research that can be used by all levels of Canadian government, agencies and businesses. The project consists of four sub-projects that each focus on a different population: (1) Brain health in the workplace and university; (2) A First Nations regional biobank; (3) Maternal mental health; and (4) SES mobility and brain health. It will provide important infrastructure for collecting data, which will be used as the basis for future and ongoing interventions.

Principal investigators: Michael MacKenzie

Co-PIs: Laurence Kirmayer, Xiangfei Meng, Kieran O’Donnell (currently at Yale University), Tuong-Vi Nguyen, Sonia Lupien (UdeM), Isabelle Ouellet-Morin (Université de Montréal), Michael Kobor (University of British Columbia), Gerald McKinley (Western University), Gustavo Turecki (McGill), Robert Hemmings (McGill), Celia Greenwood (McGill)

Collaborators: Amy Bombay (Dalhousie University), Candice Odgers (University of California, Irvine), Carl D’Arcy (University of Saskatchewan), Hymie Anisman (Carlton University), Kimberly Matheson (Ottawa Institute of Mental Health)Anita Benoit (University of Toronto), Robyn Jane McQuaid (Royal Institute of Mental Health), Mindy Denny (Union of Nova Scotia Indians)

Funding received: $1,499,270

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