Alan Evans honoured for his lifetime contribution to the field of neuroimaging

News

Published: 9Jun2019

The Organization for Human Brain Mapping, the largest international scientific society for neuroimaging-based brain research, has honoured Prof. Alan C. Evans with its Glass Brain Award

The award, presented to Evans at the 2019 OHBM congress in Rome, recognizes lifetime achievement in the use of brain mapping to make significant discoveries about the human brain.

Evans was nominated by his peers from global institutions at the forefront of neuroimaging, including founding members of OHBM and prior Glass Brain recipients.

“The uniform endorsement for Dr. Evans reflects not only his excellent scientific credentials but also reveals how deeply his dedication to the organization is appreciated by the OHBM community,” said Susan Bookheimer, UCLA School of Medicine, who led the nomination process.

“Dr. Evans and his team have developed both platforms and tools for large scale data mining, and these data and tools have been made available to brain imaging researchers without cost; he is one of the original champions of open science,” she added.

A researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital (The Neuro), Evans is a James McGill Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering. He is also the Scientific Director of Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL), a high profile, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral initiative in neuroscience at McGill University, and of the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics & Mental Health.

Pioneering neuroimaging techniques

Evans was recognized for pioneering neuroimaging techniques and advancing research into both neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases.

“I’m deeply honoured to receive the Glass Brain Award, particularly since the OHBM represents my scientific peer community of over 3,000 international brain scientists,” said Evans. “To receive this award from the neuroimaging community is the highest recognition I could hope for.”

Neuroimaging—a relatively new field—combines imaging technologies such as MRI, PET and EEG with behavioural and genetic information to shed light on the function and anatomy of the nervous system.

Evan’s lab, the McGill Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (MCIN), has forged the development of new neuroinformatics technologies, the tools that make big data analytics in neurosciences possible and now underpin large-scale data-sharing initiatives globally.

This cutting-edge infrastructure also supports major research initiatives at The Neuro, where his lab is based, including the Ludmer Centre, HBHL, and the new Tanenbaum Open Science Institute (TOSI). It is also central to national initiatives such as the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP), the Canadian Consortium for Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), and the US-based Autism Infant Brain Imagining Study (IBIS).

Evans has redefined the role of neuroimaging by developing techniques and analytical tools that are now widely used. One of his signature achievements was The Neuro’s reference brain, the most frequently used spatial reference system for cataloguing structural and functional data for both normal and diseased brains.

More recently, he co-led the Big Brain Project, in which scientists sliced a human brain from a healthy donor into 7,400 ultrathin sheets and then digitally reconstructed it, allowing them to create the highest-resolution 3-D digital map of the brain produced to date: the BigBrain Atlas.

His contributions have led to a standardization of neuroimaging techniques and tools, enabling reliable measures of brain function across various populations, making neuroimaging a much more clinically-relevant research tool and opening the door for personalized therapies.

His work has also drawn attention to the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning to revolutionize our understanding of the brain in health and disease, and to accelerate the search for precision treatment, if not cures, for the most devastating brain disorders.

Previous recipients of the Glass Brain Award include Susan Y. Bookheimer, UCLA School of Medicine; David Van Essen, Washington University School of Medicine; Karl Zilles, Juelich Research Centre; and Karl Friston, University College London.

The OHBM is an international organization dedicated to advancing the understanding of the anatomical and functional organization of the human brain using neuroimaging. The next OHBM meeting will take place in Montreal, June 25-29, 2020.

 

CONTACT:

Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives

Jennifer Morrow

Jennifer.Morrow [at] mcgill.ca

Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM)

Stephanie McGuire

stephaniemcguire [at] humanbrainmapping.org