Submission to House of Commons Standing Committee on Science & Research

Our brains define who we are, how we behave, what we strive for, and how we interact with each other and our environments. Because our brains are so integral to our capacities to live good lives, brain research has the promise to improve the lives of all Canadians.

We are at a critical inflection point in making progress to understand the human brain. Canada must seize this opportunity to reap the societal and economic benefits and needs to be able to keep up with, connect to, and draw on the efforts of other national and pan-national brain initiatives.   

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Science & Research (SRSR Committee) was created in the fall of 2021 to boost the attention on science from federal parliamentarians and to allow them to hear from Canadians and experts on issues of national concern on science and research. In its first project, the SRSR Committee conducted a study of the “Successes, challenges and opportunities for science in Canada” to develop recommendations as to how to improve the current state of science research nationally. 

The CBRS submitted a brief calling for the establishment of a Brain Research Initiative for Canada. An executive summary of the submitted brief is outlined below:  

Executive Summary

The coalition convened by the CBRS believes that the time for a Canadian Brain Research Initiative is now. We have the network, partnerships, vision, and strategic plan in place. Now we need the funding to catalyze this network into concerted, bold, and concrete action. 

  • Understanding the brain – in health and disease, across the entire lifespan, and in interaction with emerging technologies – will be critical to Canada’s success and well-being in the 21st century.
  • Canada’s neuroscience and mental health researchers are among the most productive and influential in the world, despite operating with more limited funding than many of their global colleagues.
  • The CBRS has united Canada’s brain researchers, in coalition with Indigenous Peoples, private and public science funders, industry leaders, and people with lived experience of brain disease or injury, to develop a clear and compelling vision for how to revolutionize the study of the brain and translate our research into applications that will benefit all Canadians
  • This coalition has collectively envisioned six near-term initiatives that positions Canada as a world leader in brain research that is open, collaborative, transdisciplinary, ethical, inclusive, and critically, successful at the large scale needed to make real progress on one of the most complex systems ever known.
  • Canada’s emerging brain research strategy has also been informed by its leadership in the International Brain Initiative (IBI). Unlike some of its IBI counterparts (the US, EU, and Japan), Canada has never had a national brain research initiative.

You can download the full brief here.

The submitted brief is based on outcomes from “A Canadian BRAIN Initiative?” panel discussion at the Canadian Science Policy Conference in November 2021.