History & Global Context

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

Emergence of a Global Collaborative Neuroscience

In recent years, the extraordinary momentum in the field is being channelled into the creation of large-scale brain initiatives around the globe, many of which are focused on creating new research tools and technologies. 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” at the intersection of mind and machine. Japan has also launched a national initiative, while Canada, South Korea, China and Australia are each developing their own.

In 2017, Canada also joined these nations to form the International Brain Initiative (IBI), a consortium of researchers working on brain projects around the world, and Canadian neuroscientists continue to play a leadership role in the organization. The IBI aims to move neuroscience forward by increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing, leveraging talent and resources, and reducing repetition among independent, national brain initiatives.

Learn more about the International Brain Initiative:

International Brain Initiative


Canada’s neuroscience strategy can distinguish itself from the others by focusing on understanding the brain’s most fundamental processes and by setting the standard for open, collaborative, transdisciplinary and ethical brain research. To prepare for this new era of discovery, our strategy must focus on training the next generation of transdisciplinary scientists, developing national technology platforms for the benefit of all brain researchers, and maximizing data sharing and analysis both 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 road map to take us there.

Canadian leadership in Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence

Recent programs funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund:

  1. Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (McGill)
  2. Data Serving Canadians (IVADO) (UdeM)
  3. BrainsCAN: Brain Health for Life (Western)
  4. Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) (York)
  5. Sentinel North (Laval)

Programs funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research:

  1. Child & Brain Development
  2. Brain, Mind & Consciousness
  3. Learning in Machines & Brains