In recent years, the extraordinary momentum in the field of neuroscience has been channeled into the creation of large-scale brain initiatives around the globe, each with a unique focus. For example, the Human Brain Project, funded by the European Commission, is building the digital infrastructure needed to model the brain. The United States Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative is catalyzing the development of new tools for studying the brain. Israel Brain Technologies aims to develop and commercialize new neurotechnologies; and, Japan BRAIN/Minds is largely focused on mapping the brain of a non-human primate.
South Korea, China, Australia and Canada are each developing their own national initiatives and, in 2017, joined the International Brain Initiative (IBI), a consortium of researchers working on brain projects around the world. Together, the IBI members will move neuroscience forward by reducing redundancy, increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing, and leveraging talent and resources among brain researchers globally.
Learn more about the International Brain Initiative:
By establishing a national neuroscience program, Canada can set a new global standard for open, collaborative, transdisciplinary and ethical brain research, and continue to play a leadership role in the IBI. That program must focus on preparing scientists for this new era of research, nationalizing technology platforms for the benefit of all brain researchers and maximizing data sharing at home and abroad.
Canada: Building on a Strong Foundation
The Government of Canada and many other public and private funders have consistently recognized the importance of investing in brain research. They include the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, as well as the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Canada Brain Research Fund, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Kid Brain Health Network, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and numerous brain-focused health charities. As a result of this support, Canadian neuroscience has flourished.
But an additional dimension is needed to meet the grand challenge of understanding the brain. To create a neuroscience-driven nation, Canada must link together existing brain research initiatives and then maximize their potential through shared knowledge, infrastructure and data. CBRS, with its focus on open, collaborative and transdisciplinary brain research, provides the roadmap to take us there.
Canadian leadership in Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence
Recent programs funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund:
- Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (McGill)
- Data Serving Canadians (IVADO) (UdeM)
- BrainsCAN: Brain Health for Life (Western)
- Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) (York)
- Sentinel North (Laval)
Programs funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research:
- Child & Brain Development
- Brain, Mind & Consciousness
- Learning in Machines & Brains