A Call for a Neurological Strategy for Canada

The Neurological Health Charities Canada (NHCC) is a coalition of organizations that represent millions of Canadians living with neurological diseases, disorders and injuries. The NHCC is a key long-term partner of CBRS in engaging with patients and ensuring representation as we build a collective vision for brain research and societal impact.

The NHCC have recently released a proposal for a National Neurological Strategy for Canada to bring about collaboration within the brain health community – building on existing national strategies and global initiatives – to tackle the prevention, treatment and cure of neurological conditions.

Their proposed strategy to address knowledge gaps and needs includes: strengthening government leadership on neurologic issues; investing in and improving accessibility to early diagnosis; comprehensive treatment and care, building capacity in neurological health care workers; reducing stigma and discrimination; strengthening health information systems; and fostering strategic research approaches into neurological conditions.

CBRS is proud to be a part of the proposed National Neurological Strategy for Canada in providing key guidance on strategic research approaches.

See the full strategy here

International Brain Initiative: The Future of Large-Scale Collaboration

On October 12th, the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and the International Brain Initiative (IBI) will be hosting a workshop to discuss the future of international neuroscience collaborations. Incoming Chair of the IBI Strategy Committee and CBRS Chair of the Steering Committee, Yves De Koninck, is set to participate as Canada’s IBI member representative. 

Representatives of brain initiatives from Europe, the U.S., Japan, China, Australia, Korea and Canada make up an IBI member panel that will convene to discuss the opportunities and challenges of international neuroscience collaboration. Noting the support provided by the IBI as a critical forum for networking and collaboration among the brain initiatives, panelists plan to advocate for increased connection between researchers, and point to the effectiveness of IBI working groups to initiate global actions in neuroethics, data policies, and the sharing of scientific resources. 

A key consensus is the need to strengthen relations between science and policy for closer integration of research evidence in decision making, and to bring diverse viewpoints into neuroscience research. As the IBI is growing to be a trusted source of thought leadership in global neuroscience, Canada, in particular, has the opportunity to lead with our efforts to engage non-researchers, people with lived experience, and Indigenous Peoples as we build a collective national vision for the future of neuroscience and mental health research that will benefit all Canadians.  

Read the recent publication in Lancet Neurology highlighting the STOA Panel Workshop and associated Editorial. 

US Congress Passes Budget Bill: NIH BRAIN Initiative Receives $60M in Additional Funds for Fiscal Year 2021

John Ngai, Ph.D. Director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative recently shared the following news:
The recently authorized Omnibus Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2021 provides $42.9 billion for NIH, an increase of $1.25 billion (or 1.5%) above fiscal year 2020. This appropriation includes $560 million for the NIH BRAIN Initiative, a $60 million increase over last year’s $500 million appropriation. We are deeply grateful for Congress’s strong and continuing support of our mission.

The spending bill includes $404 million of appropriated funds authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act. The Cures Act, signed into law in December 2016, allocates funding to NIH each year through 2026, for a total of $4.8 billion across all projects described in the Act. The BRAIN Initiative was one of four highly innovative scientific initiatives designated to receive multi-year funding through the Innovation Fund of the Cures Act, reflecting enthusiasm for the Initiative and its goals. This funding must be appropriated each year by Congress.

The $560 million appropriation for the NIH BRAIN Initiative includes $100 million in Cures Act funds. This legislation reflects strong bipartisan Congressional support for biomedical research, and will provide NIH with the resources needed to continue to work towards the goals in BRAIN’s strategic plan, which was initially outlined by the BRAIN 2025 report and recently updated and enhanced through the BRAIN 2.0 neuroscience and neuroethics reports. Importantly, this generous allocation for 2021 will accelerate the launch of two transformative projects outlined in those reports that “stand out in for their importance to human health and technical viability,” specifically: $40 million for the Human Brain Cell Atlas and $20 million for the Armamentarium for Brain Cell Access. Collectively, this funding will help accelerate BRAIN’s mission to develop and apply innovative tools and neurotechnologies, as well as to support researchers as they seek new ways to treat, cure, and ultimately prevent brain disorders.

In addition to the increased funds for the BRAIN Initiative, the Omnibus Bill:

The spending bill will fund the government until the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2021.