A storied history

Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds makes The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders.

1932

The Rockefeller Foundation grants $1.2 million to build The Neuro and fulfill Dr. Wilder Penfield’s dream of an integrated research and hospital facility.


1934

The Neuro opens on September 27.  


1938

Pioneer electrophysiologist Dr. Herbert Jasper perfects the use of the electroencephalogram – a tool used for locating the source of epileptic seizures in the brain.


1949

The Neuro establishes Canada’s first MS Clinic. 


1950

Dr. Brenda Milner makes groundbreaking discoveries in memory through her studies with one of the most celebrated patients in neurological science – the case of HM – Henry Molaison, who could not retain memories for more than 30 seconds.


1953

The new McConnell Pavilion expands The Neuro’s capacity to treat patients and conduct research. 


1955

The “Montreal Procedure,” the operation for temporal lobe epilepsy, is developed by Dr. Penfield and colleagues and adopted by neurosurgeons worldwide. Today, The Neuro continues to be the most active and experienced international centre for treating epilepsy. We now have a “world series” of over 6,000 patients that have been successfully operated upon here, twice the number of any other centre.


1960

Dr. Theodore Rasmussen, a world authority on the surgical treatment of epilepsy, is appointed Director.


1965

The Neuro is named a Killam Institution and receives ongoing support for research from the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Endowment and the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund for Advanced Studies, created by Dorothy J. Killam, widow of Izaak W. Killam. 


1972

Dr. William Feindel, neurosurgeon, is appointed Director and introduces brain scanning to The Neuro, setting the stage for The Neuro to become Canada’s leader in brain imaging.


1973

The Neuro unveils Canada’s first computer axial tomography (CAT) scanner.


1976

Dr. Christopher Thompson and colleagues build the first positron emission tomography (PET) camera.


1981

Dr. David Hubel, a former Fellow, wins the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.


1982

The Neuro’s positron emission tomography (PET) unit produces the first image of a brain tumour. 


1984

Dr. Donald Baxter, neurologist, is appointed Director. Dr. Baxter is known for his commitment to training young neurologists and support for research.

The Neuro inaugurates the Webster Pavilion, housing the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre (BIC). 


1992

Dr. Richard Murphy, scientist, is appointed Director, and works to expand cell and molecular biology at The Neuro.


2002

The Neuro inaugurates the Brain Tumour Research Centre in the presence of the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Madame Pauline Marois, then Deputy Premier of Quebec.


2006

The Neuro obtains Quebec’s first bi-planar angiogram improving treatment decisions and resulting in shorter procedure times for stroke patients.

The Neuro declares formal ties as a sister institute with India’s National Brain Research Centre. 


2007

The Neuro gains recognition as one of the Canadian government’s seven national Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research.


2016

A transformative gift from the Judy and Larry Tanenbaum family helps to establish the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute, a bold initiative that will facilitate the sharing of neuroscience findings worldwide to accelerate the discovery of leading edge therapeutics to treat patients suffering from neurological diseases.


Today, and into the future

The Neuro is the largest training centre for neuroscience in Canada. Its postdoctoral fellows, residents and graduate students come from all over the world to develop expertise in their field and then return to their home countries to establish clinical and research programs. 


Notable Figures: Former directors

Wilder Graves Penfield, MD

Director 1934 - 1960

Read his bio

Theodore Brown Rasmussen, MD

Director 1960 - 1972

Read his bio

William Feindel, MD

Director 1972 - 1984

Read his bio

Donald Baxter, MD

Director 1984 - 1992 & 2000 - 2002

Read his bio

Richard Murphy, PhD

Director 1992 - 2000

Read his bio

David R. Colman, PhD

Director 2002 - 2011

Read his bio

The Neuro logo McGill logoMcGill University Health Centre logoKillam logo

The Neuro is a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.

Back to top