The past meets the future

When I walk the halls of The Neuro these days, I see many new faces. There is a buzz in the air, a renewed energy that makes me feel like the future of neuroscience is right here, under our roof.

The Neuro has been home to some of the leading neurologists, neurosurgeons and neuroscientists of our time, but as proud as we are of our past, we also need to look to the future, especially since our job is to make new discoveries that benefit patients. 

That is why over the past three years we have conducted the most aggressive hiring campaign in The Neuro’s 83-year history. Twenty principal investigators have joined The Neuro’s research staff, bringing the total number to more than 70 — the highest number ever.

The selection process to fill these positions was extremely competitive, and we are confident our new researchers are some of the best minds in neuroscience today. I am incredibly proud to call them Neuro researchers.

Among them is Stuart Trenholm, who recently received the 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Neuroscience, one of the most prestigious research fellowships in North America. Trenholm focuses on how the wiring of neurons in the brain leads to perception, and how brain connectivity gives us our ability to perceive objects in our environment.

Christine Tardif, another new hire, is using magnetic resonance imaging to develop biomarkers for diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which can then be used to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs in clinical trials. She recently published a paper describing a promising new biomarker that may one day be used to identify those at highest risk of developing AD.

Among the new faculty members are several clinician scientists, and these people really demonstrate The Neuro’s advantage as a hospital and research institute. Dr. Roberto Diaz is a neurosurgeon who is also conducting brain cancer research. He can use samples taken from brain tumours to examine how cancer cells migrate in the brain, and develop interventions to stop their spread.

Contemporary science moves quickly, and we have recruited top scientists with expertise in big data analysis, brain imaging, stem cell research, optogenetics, artificial intelligence and bioinformatics. In the coming years, their basic science and clinical data skills will pay off big time.

The Neuro’s open science policy will help their research get the most impact. In 2016 we adopted open science at the institutional level. As part of this policy, we support and encourage our researchers to share their results, even negative results, as quickly as possible with the scientific world. They can also collaborate in open science partnerships and platforms, including the C-BIG Repository and the IPSC/CRISPR Platform.

I believe that one day we will add some of these names alongside Penfield, Rasmussen, Milner, Feindel, and others to the honour roll of brilliant scientists who made their greatest discoveries right here.

And we are not finished growing. More new principal investigators are soon to arrive. To capitalize on this sense of rebirth, The Neuro has launched a campaign to encourage more people to join us. Called #IChooseTheNeuro, the campaign invites the public to discover our new researchers and support them in their goal of fighting neurological disease through donations, volunteering, participating in research, or sharing what we do with their friends.

I encourage you to share with your networks, and use the hashtag when posting to social media. Let’s invite the world to take part in an exciting future for neurological research.  

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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.

 

 

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