Four early-career researchers receive leadership grants

Clockwise from top left, Jo Anne Stratton, Boris Bernhardt, Jean-Francois Poulin and Yasser Iturria-Medina
Published: 9 November 2020

Brain Canada program supports paradigm-shifting neuroscience that improves the lives of Canadians

Four researchers at The Neuro — Boris Bernhardt, Yasser Iturria-Medina, Jean-Francois Poulin, and Jo Anne Stratton — have received grants to support their work in the early-career stage, after being chosen from 150 talented applicants.

Brain Canada’s Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program, anchored by a $5M gift from the Azrieli Foundation, enables paradigm-changing research of the brain to improve the lives of all Canadians.

The researchers from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill University are among 20 successful applicants from across the country. They will each receive $100,000 in research funding distributed over a period of two years. Brain Canada rewards research excellence and innovation and is able to take risks to fund high-potential ideas. Funding recipients are selected through a rigorous two-stage national and international peer review process.

Funding for the Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research program has been provided by Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund. Since 2011, Brain Canada has had a major partnership with the Government of Canada, via Health Canada, which has contributed $120 million to match funds from Brain Canada’s private and non-federal partners, and dedicated a further $40M over two years starting in 2020-21.

Areas of research

Bernhardt’s group develops integrative analytics to study large-scale brain organization, connectivity, and neurodevelopment. One focus is the study of individual differences in connectome architecture in developing and adult populations, and the relation to variability in high-level cognition and socio-affective competences.

Iturria-Medina’s Lab – Neuroinformatics for Personalized Medicine – pursues primarily the goal of making precision medicine in neurology a reality. It focuses on defining and implementing multiscale and multifactorial brain models for understanding neurological disorders and identifying effective personalized interventions.

Poulin’s lab studies how dopamine circuits are formed during development and how these circuits are affected in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. The lab’s research is based on the hypothesis that each dopamine neuron subtype is embedded within a defined neural circuit associated with unique properties and functions.

Stratton’s research platform spans basic in vitro cell culture interrogation of cellular interactions, to transgenic animal models which recapitulate responses to different injuries and diseases, to human cellular and histological analyses. In particular, Stratton studies the function of one largely understudied, specialized glia cell in the central nervous system: the ependymal cell, to explore its role in multiple sclerosis (MS) and neurodegeneration.

About Brain Canada:

Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. It plays a unique and invaluable role as the national convener of the brain research community. Brain Canada understands that better insight into how the brain works contributes to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of disorders of the brain, thereby improving the health outcomes and quality of life of all Canadians.

The Neuro logo McGill logoMcGill University Health Centre logoKillam Laureates


The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are 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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