Discovery Fund Competition 2

Competition 2 Review Process

In June 2021, HBHL’s Strategic Steering Committee (SSC) directed HBHL Theme Leaders to investigate strategic investment options for HBHL’s second phase. Based on feedback from the mid-term review, the SSC determined that the second round of Discovery Grants should invest in projects with potential for end-of-grant impact and meaningful cross-theme collaborations.

Based on this direction, theme leaders presented concepts to the SCC and engaged in a six-month long iterative process, refining project plans and budgets until they were accepted in principle by the committee.

In early 2022, HBHL assembled an international panel of eight external reviewers (made up of two experts from each of HBHL’s four themes) with relevant scientific expertise and high-level strategic experience. Each team received written reviews and a Q&A opportunity with the panel. Based on guidance from the review panel, HBHL added several funding requirements to each project to help ensure success.

Going forward, the SSC will review annual reports from Discovery Grant teams to assess progress against agreed-upon milestones.

 

Funded Projects

Theme 1: Computational analysis for multi-modal, multi-scale neuroscience

Clinical diagnostic criteria and treatment options for brain disorders are typically designed for the average patient, which doesn't take variation between individuals into account. This project aims to develop and release novel analytic strategies to predict disease evolution and treatment response at the individual level using a combination of multimodal imaging, genetic and behavioural data. The team will work together with other HBHL research themes and Western’s BrainsCAN to adapt their strategies using datasets from each theme. The resulting algorithms, maps and resource datasets will be hosted and shared via NeuroHub.

Principle investigators: Celia Greenwood, Bratislav Misic

Co-PIs: Mallar Chakravarty, Yasser Iturria-Medina, Jean-Baptiste Poline, Christine Tardif, Alan Evans 

Collaborators: Louis Collins, Masha Dadar, Alain Dagher, Ali Khan (Western University), Martin Lepage, Ravi Menon (Western University), Jean-Francois Poulin , Madeleine Sharp, Jo-Anne Stratton, Yashar Zeighami

Funding received (over 3 years): $1,250,000

Award start date: June 1, 2022

 

Theme 2: Application of single-cell technologies to brain disease biospecimens (Single Cell Neurobiology Hub)

Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has been used in cell classification, mapping neuronal circuits, deciphering molecular interactions across immune cells, determining the molecular and cellular signatures of disease and more. Currently, the major bottlenecks for these technologies to be adopted clinically are equipment availability and expertise. To meet this challenge, the project team will create the Single-Cell Neurobiology Hub (SCNH) to provide access to infrastructure, technical and analytical expertise, as well as support for open data-sharing between users. This project will connect technology access points across the Neuro, the McGill Genome Centre and the Douglas Research Centre to advance single-cell protocols, develop SCNH capacity through four sub-projects and create an open interface for knowledge and dataset sharing.

Principle investigators: Jean-Francois Poulin, Jo-Anne Stratton, Corina Nagy, Ioannis Ragoussis, Claudia Kleinman, Jean-Baptiste Poline

Co-PIs: Naguib Mechawar, Jason Karamchandani

Collaborators: Kevin Petrecca, Sali Farhan, Tom Durcan, Jack Antel, Stefano Stifani, Ted Fon, Philippe Séguéla, Sylvain Williams, Mark Brandon, Mallar Chakravarty, Gustavo Turecki, Patricia Silveria, Keith Murai, J-François Trempe, Myriam Srour

Funding received (over 3 years): $1,013,500

Award start date: June 1, 2022

 

Theme 3: Cognitive Neuroscience Knowledge Exchange for Clinical Translation (CONNECT)

The CONNECT project aims to enhance collaboration, promote interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and orient cognitive neuroscience research towards clinical applications. CONNECT will bring together cognitive neuroscience researchers, clinicians, trainees, patients and advocates to take on this challenge. This project will draw on existing models of design thinking in research to support knowledge exchange, brainstorming and new interdisciplinary teams. CONNECT will develop, test and iterate a novel applied research approach for innovative and inclusive cognitive neuroscience with potential for clinical and policy applications. CONNECT will also offer seed funding for the most promising ideas from interdisciplinary teams.

Principle investigators: Madeleine Sharp, Anna Weinberg, Maiya Geddes, Lesley Fellows

Co-PIs: Boris Bernhardt, Xioqian Chai, Julie Doyon, Laurence Kirmayer, Denise Klein, Nancy Mayo, Jean-Baptiste Poline, Natasha Rajah, Mathieu Roy, Signy Sheldon, Nathan Spreng

Collaborators: Melanie Dirks, Reza Farivar, Nancy Low, Stuart Lubarsky, Marie-Christine Noël, Ross Otto, Soham Rej, Amir Schmuel

Funding received (over 3 years): $1,499,900

Award start date: June 1, 2022

 

Theme 4: Shifting toward digital innovations: Transforming research and care at the Douglas Institute

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to improve access to safe and reliable mental health care. However, the implementation of innovative technologies to provide effective mental health care to users across the province requires significant changes across the Quebec health-care system. The project team seeks to leverage cutting-edge digital services, technologies and infrastructure as a means of improving mental health care. This approach includes storing, recording and optimizing clinical data throughout the patient trajectory, optimizing treatment based on these data and improving access to these tools. To support this work, the team will also develop neuroinformatics infrastructure to ensure safe transfer and storage of these clinical-level data, as well as artificial intelligence tools that will enable clinical and research applications . All advances will be publicly accessible to maximize the impact of the research.

Principle investigators: Martin Lepage, Mallar Chakravarty

Co-PIs: Masha Dadar, Simon Ducharme, Lesley Fellows, Manuela Ferrari, Shalini Lal, Nancy Mayo, Lena Palaniyappan, Myra Piat, Jean-Baptiste Poline, Jai Shah, Yashar Zeighami

Collaborators: David Buckeridge, Guillaume Dumas, Celia Greenwood, Srividya Iyer, Eric Latimer, Outi Linnaranta, Maxime Montembeault, Corina Nagy, Tuong Vi Nguyen, Geneviève Sauvé (McGill), Gustavo Turecki

Funding received (over 3 years): $2,139,570

Award start date: June 1, 2022

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