The Canadian Brain Research Strategy (CBRS) is a grass-roots initiative launched by leading Canadian neuroscientists, in partnership with representatives of the Neurological Health Charities of Canada (NHCC) to respond to a growing need for concerted efforts to understand the brain.

The CBRS is not seeking to become a parallel funding stream, but rather to inspire decision makers and funders to further invest in programs that foster collaborative, transdisciplinary and open approaches to move Canada toward a big-science model for brain research.

CBRS Leadership

Yves De Koninck
(CERVO Brain Research Centre, Université Laval and Sentinelle North CFREF)

Judy Illes 
(Neuroethics Canada, University of British Columbia)


Chris Anderson (Neuroscience Program, University of Manitoba)*Jaideep Bains (Canadian Association for Neuroscience)

*Yoshua Bengio (MILA – Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, IVADO CFREF, Université de Montréal, CIFAR Program on Learning in Machines and Brains)

Julie Carrier (Université de Montréal)

Francisco Cayabyab (Neuroscience Research Cluster, University of Saskatchewan)

Douglas Crawford (York University and VISTA CFREF)

*Alan Evans (McGill University and Healthy Brain for Healthy Lives CFREF)

Michiru Hirasawa (Neuroscience Program, Memorial University)

*André Longtin (Centre for Neural Dynamics & Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Ottawa)

Brian MacVicar (Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia)

Keith Murai (Centre for Research in Neuroscience, Montreal General Hospital)

Doug Munoz (Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University)

Ravi Menon (Robarts Research Institute, Western)

Freda Miller (University of Toronto Medicine by Design CREF)

David Park (Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary)

*Victor Rafuse (Brain Repair Centre, Dalhousie University)

Guy Rouleau (The Neuro, McGill University)

*Lisa Saksida (BrainsCAN CFREF, Western and CIFAR Azrieli Program in Brain, Mind & Consciousness)

*Allison Sekuler (Baycrest Health Sciences, University of Toronto)

Michael Salter (SickKids Research Institute, University of Toronto)

Robert Sutherland (Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge)

*Peter Szatmari (Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative, CAMH and SickKids, University of Toronto)

Gustavo Turecki (Douglas Research Centre, McGill University)

John Vincent (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto)

Donald Weaver (Krembil Brain Institute, University Health Network, University of Toronto)

Douglas Zochodne (Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta)

*Deanna Groetzinger (Neurological Health Charities of Canada)


*Members of the CBRS Steering Committee are marked with an asterisk.

Meeting of leading Canadian Neuroscientists
Members of the leadership group or their representatives present at the Halifax meeting, September 2018 (learn more)

Development of the CBRS

Following a series of consensus workshops initiated by Tony Phillips (Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health – University of British Columbia) in 2015, the vision, pillars and guiding principles of the CBRS were elaborated under the leadership of Professors Sheena Josselyn (SickKids Hospital – University of Toronto) and Sam Weiss (Hotchkiss Brain Institute – University of Calgary) in 2017 with the help of a team of scientists

 and through a consultation process with neuroscientists across the country, as well as representatives of the NHCC.  A timeline of the development of the CBRS and list of contributors at each step is available here:


After the nomination of Professor Sam Weiss as head of the Institute for Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR-INMHA) in July 2017, professors Yves De Koninck (CERVO Brain Research Centre – Université Laval) and Judy Illes (Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health – University of British Columbia) have taken leadership roles in the development of the CBRS, helped by a  Steering committee.

Participants - in-person consultations, since 2015 - Click to view
Adrian Owen
Alain Beaudet
Alan Bernstein
Alan Evans
Alan Fine
Alanna Watt
Allison Sekuler
André Longtin
Annette Majnemer
Anthony Phillips
Beverley Heim-Myers
Brian MacVicar
Brigitte Kieffer
Chris Anderson
Chris Eliasmith
Dan Goldowitz
David Kaplan
David Park
Deborah Kurrasch
Donald Weaver
Doug Crawford
Doug Muñoz
Douglas Crawford
Douglas Zochodne
Elizabeth Simpson
Elizabeth Theriault
Eric Marcotte
Francisco Cayabyab
Franco J. Vaccarino
Freda Miller
Gabrielle Boulianne
Glenda MacQueen
Gustavo Turecki
Guy Rouleau
Helen Loughrey
Inez Jabalpurwala
Jacques Drouin
Jaideep Bains
James Kennedy
Jane Aubin
Jane Roskams
Jean-Baptiste Poline
Jean-Francois Boivin
Jehannine Austin
John Hepburn
John Mattick
John Vincent
Judy Illes
Julie Carrier
Keith Murai
Kurt Haas
Lara O’Donnell
Lesley Fellows
Lisa Saksida
Lynn Raymond
Maria Hudspith
Marla Sokolowski
Max Cynader
Melvyn Goodale
Michael Kobor
Michael Salter
Michiru Hirasawa
Naser Muja
Pascal Vincent
Patricia Conrod
Paul Lasko
Paul Moayyedi
Pierre Drapeau
Rachel Tyndale
Randy McIntosh
Ravi Menon
Remi Quirion
Robert McDonald
Robert McMaster
Robert Sutherland
Samuel Weiss
Sheena Josselyn
Stephen Robbins
Terry Snutch
Trina Foster
Victor Rafuse
Vincent Castellucci
Yoshua Bengio
Yves De Koninck
Yves Joanette
Zhong-Ping Feng


Neurological Health Charities of Canada
Neurological Health Charities Canada (NHCC) is a coalition of organizations that represent people with brain diseases, disorders and injuries in Canada. NHCC provides leadership in evaluating and advancing new opportunities for collaboration specific to advocacy, education and research to improve the quality of life for people affected by brain conditions.


The NHCC has been involved in the development of the CBRS because we believe brain research is the foundation on which new treatments and cures for the hundreds of diseases and conditions that affect the brain can be discovered.

Deanna Groetzinger, Manager, Public Affairs & Partnerships at Neurological Health Charities Canada


“Directly or indirectly, every Canadian is affected by conditions such as dementia or stroke and by the mental and behavioural health challenges. That burden is growing steadily. With improved coordination of research and stringent peer-review of funding decisions by Canada’s respected research councils, Canadian taxpayers and donors can be assured that urgently-needed investments in brain and mental health will achieve maximal value. With a unified effort and a meaningful investment in brain science, Canada’s researchers, clinicians and decision-makers in all walks of life will be far better equipped to respond to the urgent needs of 36 million fellow citizens.”

Joyce Gordon, Chair of Neurological Health Charities Canada, CEO of Parkinson Canada
(with Dr. Lynn Raymond, Professor at the University of British Columbia & President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience 2018,  in The Globe and Mail, February 2018)

Canadian Association for Neuroscience
Canadian Association for Neuroscience
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is the largest association of scientist working in all fields of neuroscience in Canada

“The Canadian Brain Research Strategy is an opportunity to bring together the full diversity of Canada’s strength in neuroscience research to have a meaningful impact on brain diseases and disorders that affect so many Canadians. By working together, researchers with complementary expertise will maximise the reach of each individual’s contribution to our understanding of the brain.
Scientists from across Canada have come together to propose a strategy that includes three initial initiatives that focus on training, sharing technologies, and open data. We believe all Canadian neuroscientists will benefit from these initiatives.”

Dr. Jaideep Bains, President of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience.

CERVO Brain Research Centre
The mission of the CERVO Brain Research Centre, located in Quebec City, is to advance knowledge about the causes and treatment of neurological and psychiatric illnesses by developing new technologies and methodologies to unravel the mysteries of the brain and by continuously linking basic and clinical research.

It is a hotbed for the development of approaches that enable measurement and intervention from the most basic levels –cells and microcircuits– to real life situations, in the least invasive manner.

“The CBRS is a grassroots initiative which recognizes the great strengths in Canadian neuroscience research, and the unique contribution we can make if we strengthen collaboration between researchers of all disciplines to understand the brain. Brain researchers and stakeholders across the country have begun a conversation that has coalesced in the development of the Canadian Brain Research Strategy. We have already identified target initiatives that will transform brain research, and believe this collaborative, open and transdisciplinary approach will lead to new knowledge about the brain that can improve the lives of Canadians.”

Yves De Koninck, Director of the CERVO Brain Research Centre
and Chair of the CBRS Steering Committee

Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Hotchkiss Brain Institute
The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the University of Calgary consists of more than 150 scientists and clinician-scientists who are dedicated to advancing brain and mental health research and education. The Institute’s research strengths in Brain & Behaviour, Neural Injury & Repair and Healthy Brain Aging are leading to a better understanding of the brain and nervous system and new treatments for neurological and mental health disorders, aimed at improving quality of life and patient care. More information about the HBI can be found at hbi.ucalgary.ca.

“As a member of the Canadian Brain Research Strategy, the HBI has a unique opportunity to collaborate with the very best researchers and clinicians across Canada who are working to understand the brain. It is our goal that together with our CBRS partners, we will make positive impacts on the lives of millions of Canadians living with brain and mental health challenges by translating discoveries into innovative health care solutions.”

Dr. David Park, PhD, Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute; Lead, University of Calgary Brain and Mental Health Research Strategy; and Professor, Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Cell Biology & Anatomy, University of Calgary

The Neuro - Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
The Neuro – The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. The Neuro is the first institute in the world to fully embrace Open Science principles.

The Canadian Brain Research Strategy is an initiative that fosters collaboration among neuroscience researchers across Canada and beyond. It is aligned with The Neuro’s vision of open and collaborative science.  Sharing data, resources, expertise, technology and training opportunities is the best way for researchers and trainees at The Neuro and at other Canadian research centres and institutions to advance our understanding of the brain.  Patients with neurological disorders will be the first to benefit from this concerted effort.

Guy Rouleau, Director – Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital

Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health
Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health
The Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health brings together experts in the fields of neuroscience, neurology, psychiatry, and rehabilitation in a hub for training, research, and clinical care.

The philosophy of the facility is to work with all facets of brain health because knowledge gained from treating and investigating one disease of the brain will advance our understanding of others. The facility brings research closer to patients, providing British Columbians with better access to the best possible treatments.

Canadian neuroscientists have come together to propose a strategy, the Canadian Brain Research Strategy, that will promote collaboration and exchange between laboratories across Canada that work to further our understanding of the brain. This highly collaborative approach has the potential to be game-changing for Canada, by facilitating discoveries that can only be made by combining the expertise of multiple researchers towards a common goal. Canada has a lot to gain by supporting this strategy.

Brain MacVicar, Co-Director of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health

BrainsCAN at Western University
BrainsCAN is a CFREF funded neuroscience research initiative located at Western University that aims to transform the way brain diseases and disorders are understood, diagnosed and treated. Through its innovative funding programs and core infrastructure, BrainsCAN is accelerating effective solutions for maintaining a healthy brain.

“Understanding the brain is one of the most critical challenges facing modern society, one that has the potential to change the lives of the millions of Canadians who suffer from neurological, neurodevelopmental or neuropsychiatric diseases. BrainsCAN partners with McGill’s Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives CFREF initiative, to leverage the expertise of researchers from different fields and to share new technologies and knowledge generated. The Canadian Brain Research Strategy can extend this collaborative approach nationally to harness Canada’s strengths in neuroscience to have a real impact on our understanding of the brain, for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Lisa Saksida & Ravi Menon, Co-Scientific Directors BrainsCAN

SickKids Research Institute
SickKids Research Institute
The SickKids Research Institute is committed to improve the health of children, here in Canada and in the global community. Its core values are are research excellence and integrity and its strength is collaboration. It is an environment where top researchers and health care experts work closely together as a team to improve children’s health.

“Research and innovation are essential for improved child health outcomes, and this is especially true for brain health. We at SickKids are committed to moving research discoveries from laboratories to clinics and into the community. Increased collaboration between researchers and key stakeholders across Canada, as promoted by the Canadian Brain Research Strategy will accelerate discovery research to understand the brain. These discoveries will have an impact on the care of Canadians with brain conditions and diseases, including the children we treat at SickKids.”

Michael Salter, Chief of Research, SickKids Research Institute.

Centre for Research in Neuroscience
Centre for Research in Neuroscience
The McGill Centre for Research in Neuroscience (CRN) is a multi-disciplinary research centre that integrates fundamental and translational neuroscience research within a highly interactive environment. The CRN is located at the Montreal General Hospital within the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and focuses on understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms of central nervous system (CNS) function, determining how the CNS is assembled during development, and discovering how it can be repaired in response to injuries and disease.

“There is a critical need to combine efforts to understand the complexities of the healthy and diseased brain, and the Canadian Brain Research Strategy aims to bring Canadian neuroscientists together to coordinate research efforts and build capacity towards achieving this goal. The discoveries that will be made through this approach will provide deep insight about brain function, leading to novel treatments for patients in Canada and abroad.”

Keith Murai, Director of the McGill Centre for Research in Neuroscience,
Leader of the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program at The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

Douglas Hospital Research Centre
Douglas Hospital Research Centre
The Douglas Research Centre is a mental health research facility located within a hospital. The research conducted at the Douglas has a direct impact on the lives of many patients, with major research programs in: Aging, Cognition, and Alzheimer’s Disease; Stress, Mood, and Impulsivity Disorders; Psychosis and Neurodevelopmental Disorders; and Mental Health and Society.

“Brain research is one of the keys to generating new treatment avenues and to providing the best care for patients with neurological and psychiatric diseases and conditions. The Canadian Brain Research Strategy will strengthen the links between all Canadian neuroscientists through shared knowledge, infrastructure, and data. It provides a framework for researchers across the country to rally together to fight mental illness.”

Gustavo Turecki, Director of the Douglas Hospital Research Centre

Brain Repair Centre
Brain Repair Centre
The Brain Repair Centre is a research venture whose members share a powerful vision: to discover and develop the means to prevent, repair and even reverse damage to cells and synaptic connections in the brain and spinal cord. In so doing, they aim to provide years of good-quality life to the many thousands of people who suffer from debilitating illnesses and injuries of the nervous system.

“The Canadian Brain Research Strategy aims to develop a collaborative and coordinated approach to bolster brain research productivity across Canada. We have world-class researchers in our country. Not only is it essential for us to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from one another, but it is also valuable for us to be constantly looking for ways to work together to complement our own work and to help map out a vision for brain research in the future.”

Victor Rafuse, Director of the Brain Repair Centre

Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta

The Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute (NMHI) is a multi-faculty, interdisciplinary teaching and research translational science institute. Members of the NMHI are dedicated to the exploration of how our nervous system functions, the basis for disease, and the translation of discoveries into improved outcomes for persons with neurological and mental health disorders. This is made possible by enabling active collaboration among institute members, together with partners in health care delivery and individuals with lived experience, their families and their communities.

“Neurological and mental health research explores the limitations in our understanding of the nervous system and its disorders. Discovery research, also called fundamental research, may unlock these limitations. New knowledge has the potential to alleviate the irreversible burdens of disease, improving outcomes for Canadians. This work partners with clinical research and trials to advance prevention and treatment. By harnessing Canada wide research efforts, to work in a collaborative and complementary way, the Canadian Brain Research Strategy will accelerate discoveries about the brain, spinal cord and nerves with the potential to generate innovative and world class patient care.”

Douglas Zochodne, Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta