McGill-Western Initiative for Translational Neuroscience (ITN)

McGill-Western Initiative for Translational Neuroscience (ITN) logo

Brain diseases are the leading cause of disability in Canadians with more than 3.6 million Canadians affected by a brain condition. With an aging population, new treatments are desperately needed.

Two of the world’s most accomplished neuroscience research initiatives at McGill and Western University have combined their expertise to convert scientific research to societal impact.

The McGill-Western Initiative for Translational Neuroscience (ITN) brings together world-renowned scientists to work on two large-scale research projects focusing on biotherapeutics and Parkinson’s Disease. This collaborative work will have immediate impact for patients living with brain diseases and disorders in Canada and around the world.

The ITN is supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) through Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives and Western’s BrainsCAN initiatives.

ITN Scientific Directors

  • Dr. Alan Evans, PhD, FRSC (McGill)
  • Dr. Ravi Menon, PhD, FCAHS, FRSC (Western)
  • Dr. Lisa Saksida, PhD, FCAHS, FRSC (Western)

Project Details

Early biomarkers for development and monitoring of effective disease-modifying therapies

In this project, the collaborative team will develop a platform for early drug evaluation that focuses on unique imaging and cognitive biomarkers. Using a platform that works in the preclinical phase, this method will increase the likelihood that early findings will translate to the clinic. These biomarkers will also help identify patients who may benefit most from specific types of drugs.

Principal investigators: 

Professional headshot of Mallar ChakravartyProfessional headshot of Marco Prado









Dr. Mallar Chakravarty, McGill University (left); Dr. Marco Prado, Western University (right)

Project start date: April 1, 2022

Total HBHL contribution: $1,722,000
Total BrainsCAN contribution: $2,034,000

Early biomarkers to improve diagnostic workup in Parkinson's Disease

To better understand the areas of the brain most affected by Parkinson’s Disease, this project will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify the disease's biomarkers. These biomarkers will help to better diagnose Parkinson’s, reduce a patient’s wait time for a diagnosis and make it easier to measure the disease’s progression.

Principal Investigators:

Professional headshot of Alain Dagher   Professional headshot of Penny MacDonald









Dr. Alain Dagher, McGill University (left); Dr. Penny MacDonald, Western University (right)

Project start date: April 1, 2022

Total HBHL contribution: $1,278,000
Total BrainsCAN contribution: $966,000

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