The Future of Neuroscience in Canada
We know that as we learn and make memories, some of the connections between nerve cells increase and strengthen, while others weaken or are removed. This remodelling, also called neuroplasticity, is constant from morning to night and from infancy to adulthood, shaping how we perceive and interact with the world around us. Simply put, it is what makes us human.
But neuroplasticity is complex. When it is abnormal, it can lead to a wide variety of developmental disorders, mental illnesses and addictions. As a result, understanding this changeability is essential to finding ways to protect the brain against insult; heal it after injury; treat developmental, learning and psychiatric disorders; and enhance its resilience throughout the aging process.
Against this backdrop, Canada’s neuroscience community envisions a unified, national brain initiative: the Canadian Brain Research Strategy (CBRS). CBRS will bring together researchers and Canadians living with brain conditions from across the country to address a fundamental question:
How does the brain learn, remember and adapt?
To answer this fundamental question, CBRS will move Canada toward a big-science model for brain research that is collaborative, transdisciplinary and open. The power of CBRS comes from Canada’s deep scientific expertise in brain research, artificial intelligence and neuroethics combined with clinical excellence that leverages our universal health-related data to inform basic research and patient care. It is also builds on a history of collaborative research and the commitment of our scientific leaders to work together across disciplinary boundaries.
CBRS embraces Canada’s science vision and will focus on creating an equitable, diverse and collaborative science workforce and an enhanced research infrastructure through which tools, technology and data can be shared. In so doing, it will strengthen the brain research ecosystem, creating a fertile research environment for studying how the brain learns, remembers and adapts.
We believe CBRS will produce new knowledge about the brain that will lead to policies that enhance and enrich the lives of Canadians.
The Canadian Brain Research Strategy will be:
Understanding how the brain learns, remembers and adapts requires a collective effort rooted in diversity. CBRS will strengthen Canada scientific culture of collaboration, building on more than a dozen pan-Canadian consortiums focused on brain and mental health research.
Sharing data and research tools openly is essential to a better understanding of the brain and transformation of Canadian brain research. CBRS will build on Canada’s existing open-science initiatives, such as its national high-performance computing platform and open neuroscience data platform
Now more than ever, breakthroughs in neuroscience depend on the combined efforts of scientists from many fields. To achieve its goals, CBRS will build a common scientific language and shared vision across disciplines, and will train a new generation of transdisciplinary researchers.
The mission of CBRS is to build on Canada’s strengths and current investments in cutting-edge collaborative neuroscience to transform neurological and mental health for Canadians. Its vision is of innovative and collaborative brain research that will drive policy as well as social, health and economic advancement for Canada and the world.
The strategy rests on four pillars:
Canada’s neuroethicists will guide these endeavors and continue to provide national and global leadership in aligning ethical, social, legal and policy considerations with advances in neuroscience.
By leveraging existing investments in brain science and adopting a big science approach to discovery, CBRS can establish transform the future of Canadian society.