Archive2018-12-16T19:24:11+00:00

News Archive

Archived CAN News, Research Stories, and Researcher Spotlights

CAN Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Gerlinde Metz

Looking across generations and throughout lifespans to understand the origins of disease — identifying health risks earlier to make a difference later in life.

Dr. Gerlinde Metz is a Professor at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) at the University of Lethbridge where she was recently named the Board of Governors Research Chair for Healthy Futures. In addition to her work at CCBN, she also serves on Campus Alberta Neuroscience committees where she plays an integral role consulting on events and education initiatives across the province, and is a member of CAN’s Nervous System Injury Research Theme Group.

Her research focuses on what Metz calls a transgenerational stress model where she is investigating the origins of disease. “It’s pretty unique,” she says. “We study how diseases are being programmed from one generation to the next, which is something you hear in the news nowadays, but didn’t when we started our research 10 years ago.”

Through her animal model using rats, Metz and her team are looking at how the environment and lifetime experiences affect the risk of pre-term birth, anxiety, depression, cancers and other diseases across multiple generations. “We look across generations, and also across the entire lifespan,” Metz says. “We want to see how the good and the bad experiences of a mother can influence behaviour, brain development and chances of healthy aging in her offspring and future generations.

“Excessive stress can leave a physiological, epigenetic and genetic ‘footprint’ that can be passed down through multiple generations. If we develop an ability to read these footprints we’ll have a new tool that identifies who is at greater risk of stress-related diseases.”

Metz plans to advance the study from observing these generational changes to actively identifying the precise mechanisms that cause disease. “We want to identify causes and new predictive markers of disease so that, for example, you could take a drop of blood from a baby at birth and be able to predict the kind of health risks he or she may be prone to later in life. Then interventions can be applied early to reduce the risk.”

Through CAN’s Nervous System Injury Research Theme Group, Metz is part of a province-wide network of researchers working on spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, new rehabilitation techniques and nervous system regeneration. “Alberta is really fortunate for having these kind of networks as they bring the Universities of Lethbridge, Calgary and Alberta closer together and enhance the opportunities for student learning and multidisciplinary collaboration.”

Metz is looking forward to pursuing future collaborations with other researchers in the group. “These days, more than ever, we need to work in teams. We have more-complex projects, but also most funding opportunities seek a team-based approach. It’s good to have a collaboration that’s already ongoing and productive so we can jump on these opportunities. Campus Alberta Neuroscience has recognized the need to support team formation and its programs come at a very important time for Alberta’s research community.”

CAN Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Chantel Debert

Dr. Chantel Debert is an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary in the department of Clinical Neurosciences. As part of Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s Nervous System Injury Research Theme Group, Debert is part of a province-wide network of researchers whose works focuses on spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, rehabilitation, and nervous system regeneration.

Starting Dialogues with Campuses Across Alberta Leads to Opportunities for Collaboration.

Dr. Chantel Debert is an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary in the department of Clinical Neurosciences. As part of Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s Nervous System Injury Research Theme Group, Debert is part of a province-wide network of researchers whose works focuses on spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, rehabilitation, and nervous system regeneration. She is a physician lead for the Calgary Brain Injury Program where she’s responsible for developing and implementing research strategies.

Recently, Debert was named co-lead of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute’s (HBI) Brain Injury NeuroTeam. “Our role is to organize individuals interested in brain injury campus-wide, and bring them together to start discussions about research, grant opportunities, and fostering relationships between individuals who are interested in brain injury,” she says.

Through the HBI, Debert has recently secured a pilot grant to further her research into sport concussions and mild traumatic brain injury. “We will analyze clinically accessible bio-fluids to develop a quantitative metabolic profiling to aid in diagnosing and prognosticating outcomes in patients who suffered a sport concussion / mild traumatic brain injury. “

One of the researchers joining Debert in her study is Dr. Gerlinde Metz from the University of Lethbridge, a colleague she had not seen since working on an undergraduate project nearly 20 years ago. It was while speaking at Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s 2014 Symposium that Debert and Metz reconnected and quickly saw an opportunity to work together. “Gerlinde is a basic scientist and I’m a clinician, she has access to different resources and a complimentary knowledge base, it was a natural fit.”

“Through Campus Alberta Neuroscience I’ve fostered relationships with individuals at the University of Lethbridge” Debert says as she talks about the collaborative nature of her study. “If you start a dialogue with other campuses and researchers in other places they can bring such a wealth of information and a new outlook on the research you’re doing.”

‘Time is brain’ in stroke assessment and treatment

When a patient arrives at the hospital showing signs of a stroke, every minute counts. At the Foothills Medical Centre, the internationally acclaimed stroke team immediately begins assessing the patient when they arrive so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Postdoctoral scholar awarded fellowship for research transforming acute stroke triage

By Pamela Hyde

When a patient arrives at the hospital showing signs of a stroke, every minute counts. At the Foothills Medical Centre, the internationally acclaimed stroke team immediately begins assessing the patient when they arrive so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.

“Time is brain — you lose 2 million brain cells per minute during a stroke due to a blood clot in the brain,” says Christopher d’Esterre, postdoctoral scholar and recipient of the 2015 T. Chen Fong Fellowship in Medical Imaging Science. “You need to have information quickly, and it has to be accessible and it has to be right, or else things will go wrong in a flash.”  

d’Esterre is researching computed tomography (commonly known as CT) perfusion scanning for quick assessment of acute stroke, and how it can inform treatment.

“With CT perfusion, you inject a small amount of an inert liquid into the blood and take a picture of the brain every few seconds as it travels to the affected area. This liquid gives the image contrast so that you can see blood vessels and blood velocity,” he explains. “Using a very fast computer and a little bit of complex math, we generate blood flow images of the brain. This tells us what tissue is dead, what tissue is critical, and what tissue is not affected. We can also get a sense of whether the patient is at risk of bleeding into the brain.”

The stroke team is also working on constructs that can tell them about the characteristics of the blood clot in the brain. According to d’Esterre, “the constructs tell us where the clot is is, how long it is, and whether it can be broken down using a clot-busting drug or whether it needs to be surgically removed. Surgical removal is more invasive but most effective, as shown in the recent ESCAPE trial.”

Improving process behind stroke treatment triage

The primary goal of d’Esterre’s research is to improve the decision-making process for stroke treatment triage at Foothills and around the world. “We’re trying to develop easy to interpret scoring methods based on imaging that can help clinicians make a decision quickly and correctly, and have it standardized everywhere,” he says.

“Chris d’Esterre is a bright young scientist in the early stages of his career, and is already part of team that is transforming health outcomes for all Canadians,” says Ed McCauley, vice-president (research). “He exemplifies the opportunities that exist for University of Calgary postdocs to contribute to world-changing research. We are thrilled that he has been awarded this fellowship.”

Using an example of a stroke patient in Lethbridge, d’Esterre explains the role of CT perfusion in the critical first moments of triage. In the scenario, the patient is over an hour away, so understanding how and when brain tissue will be affected is paramount.

“We have to decide whether we transport the patient to the Foothills hospital where we have the ability to remove the clot surgically, or if we want to keep the patient in Lethbridge. Surgical intervention isn’t currently possible in Lethbridge, but the clot-busting drug may have an equal probability of dissolving the blood clot as does surgical intervention – we need to determine this probability and act accordingly,” says d’Esterre. “Imaging is very important in making this decision as it will tell us the probability of both the drug dissolving the blood clot, and how much brain will be alive by the time the patient gets to Foothills hospital.”

According to Dr. Bijoy Menon, d’Esterre’s supervisor and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, this research has already had a positive impact on the triage process.

“As stroke physicians, we rely heavily on imaging to make decisions, and Chris has used his skills and expertise with CT perfusion to tell us who are the right patients to have the mechanical clot-removal treatment,” he says.

Bridging communication gap between scientists and clinicians

When d’Esterre began his fellowship as part of the Calgary Stroke Program at the Foothills in 2013, he had his first hands-on clinical experience. “To see my basic science and physics background applied directly to stroke clinical care was the coolest aspect for me,” he says. “During my PhD training, I didn’t get to see the emergency stroke procedures in real time, and now I’m working directly with the neurologists who are making the acute treatment decisions.”

Menon credits d’Esterre’s fundamental science background with making him such an effective member of the stroke team.

“Chris has also been able to bridge what I call the communications gap between translational scientists and clinicians,” he says. “He brings expertise where he is able to talk to us and talk to the scientists through a common language, helping us build more collaboration.”

Learn more about advancements in acute stroke treatment at the University of Calgary. 

The Dr. T. Chen Fong Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medical Imaging Science award honours the contributions made by Dr. Fong, and seeks to advance the field of medical imaging science. The fellowship is managed by the office of the vice-president (research).

Led by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Brain and Mental Health is one of six strategic research themes guiding the University of Calgary toward its ‘Eyes High’ goals.

This story originally appeared in the August 14th edition of UToday.

Consolidating Consciousness

The permanence of memories has long been thought to be mediated solely by the production of new proteins. However, new research from the University of Alberta has shown that the electrical activity of the brain may be a more primary factor in memory solidification.

By Jennifer Pascoe

The permanence of memories has long been thought to be mediated solely by the production of new proteins. However, new research from the University of Alberta has shown that the electrical activity of the brain may be a more primary factor in memory solidification.

“It’s not just protein synthesis, long the dominant biological model, but also ‘offline’ memory rehearsal in the brain that leads to memory solidification,” says Clayton Dickson, psychology professor at the U of A and one of the authors of the new study. “Although the protein synthesis idea is entrenched in the field, we and others have been closely examining the older data that supports this and have found some perplexing inconsistencies.” For this study, Dickson worked with his undergraduate psychology honours students Jonathan Dubue and Ty McKinney as well as his departmental colleague Dallas Treit, all at the U of A and all part of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

Online learning, offline rehearsal

“Learning is thought to occur ‘online’ by creating new or strengthened synaptic connections,” says Dickson. “However, we also know that the period directly following learning—when the brain is ‘offline’—is critical for solidifying that information.” Although agents that block protein synthesis can block future retrieval of this information at this stage, Dickson has long been convinced that this might be caused by disruption of electrical activity. He equates this stage to a mental rehearsal of the preceding events, activity patterns that likely help set the memory in the subject’s brain.

The stage when a brain is actively engaged in a new experience can be described as “online” activity. On the flip side of this neurological process, “offline” activity, or neural replay, is the process by which the brain rehearses what has been learned in order to strengthen the most important memories. What Dickson and his collaborators have shown is that protein synthesis inhibitors disrupt activity and can also disrupt “online” processing as well.

Treating memory disorders

“Memory permanence is a critical element of our day-to-day lives,” notes Dickson. “Understanding how our brains solidify memories is essential for treating memory disorders and, in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder, for potentially ridding oneself of bothersome memories. The more we understand about the process, the more likely we can find a way for people to improve their good memories and eliminate the bad.”

Dickson’s lab at the U of A is one of only a handful worldwide that critically assess the role of protein synthesis inhibition in memory and synaptic plasticity. “We are interested in what kind of neural activity patterns (i.e., brain waves) might specifically be involved in memory consolidation. We are currently trying to directly manipulate these patterns by using simple electrical methods.”

“Intrahippocampal Anisomycin Impairs Spatial Performance on the Morris Water Maze” was published Aug. 4 in The Journal of Neuroscience.

*This Story first appeared on the University of Alberta website.*

CAN Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Chester Ho

Dr. Chester Ho is Section Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the Department of Clinical Neurosciencesat the University of Calgary. He is a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and also an associate professor in the university’s Cumming School of Medicine.

Complex Spinal Cord Injuries and A Holistic Approach

Dr. Chester Ho is Section Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary. He is a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and also an associate professor in the university’s Cumming School of Medicine.

Dr. Ho received his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Cambridge in England. After an internship in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, he moved to Boston to train in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Dr. Ho’s main clinical and research interests include spinal cord injury rehabilitation and pressure ulcer prevention and treatment – a significant issue after spinal cord injury.

Working with patients with spinal cord injury issues that affect their entire body has led Dr. Ho to adopt a holistic approach to treatment.

“Instead of just treating one body organ system, you’re treating everything, and you really follow your patients for the rest of their lives, so you become very involved with their care and I like that.”

Dr. Ho is a member of Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s Nervous System Injury Research Theme Group. Their focus on exploring spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, advancements in rehabilitation, and nervous system regeneration was a perfect fit for Dr. Ho and his holistic approach. In 2014, Dr. Ho was an integral part of organizing CAN’s 2014 Symposium which focused heavily on Nervous System Injury and rehabilitation.

Dr. Ho is working with partners across Alberta, including Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN), to create a registry that will allow doctors and researchers to track the long-term outcomes and effects of spinal cord injuries. He hopes the registry will foster provincewide research collaborations and build the kind of strong foundations required to advance rehabilitation treatments and techniques.

CAN Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Keith Yeates

Dr. Keith Yeates has been a professor of psychology and an adjunct professor of paediatrics and clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary since the spring of 2014. Recently, with support from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, he was named the Ronald and Irene Ward Chair in Paediatric Brian Injury.

Dr. Keith Yeates has been a professor of psychology and an adjunct professor of paediatrics and clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary since the spring of 2014. Recently, with support from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, he was named the Ronald and Irene Ward Chair in Paediatric Brian Injury.

“Over the years my work has focused on trying to better understand the outcomes of childhood brain disorders broadly, but particularly traumatic brain injury,” says Dr. Yeates, who brings over 20 years of research experience to the field.

Recently awarded a CIHR Foundation Grant, he’s currently developing a nationwide project that takes a broad sampling of neurobiological and psychosocial risk factors and examines the roles they play in predicting children’s trajectory of recovery following concussions. “We want to translate our findings into interventions that have the potential to prevent the persistent symptoms that a substantial subgroup of kids tend to have,” says Yeates.

After spending time working in the United States, Yeates found himself drawn to the collaborative opportunities Alberta has to offer. “That’s one of the reasons I came here, I think the research environment is more conducive to collaborative work than in the States.”

Yeates is a member of Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s Nervous System Injury Research Theme Group, where his focus on traumatic brain injury puts him in good company along with researchers exploring spinal cord injuries, developments in rehabilitation, and nervous system regeneration. As a new arrival to the Alberta neuroscience and mental health community, Yeates looks forward to developing new collaborations. “I just find you can’t do this sort of stuff without making it a team effort, and it’s fun to be able to do it with people from all over the province.”

Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s newly launched Postdoctoral Fellowship program is of particular interest to Yeates as he plans to build up his stable of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The program’s unique focus on multi-campus collaborations gives trainees and students access to exciting opportunities in labs across Alberta. “I’m excited about the possibility of bringing together all these people and providing the resources to get a handle on the big questions about concussions and traumatic brain  injury because there’s still a lot we don’t know.”

U of L students turn research ideas into a company that’s generating buzz

A group of University of Lethbridge graduate students is patenting a process that harnesses the power of the body’s own cells to repair scar tissue in the brain – thereby opening up a new world of possibilities for treating stroke and traumatic brain injury.

A group of University of Lethbridge graduate students is patenting a process that harnesses the power of the body’s own cells to repair scar tissue in the brain – thereby opening up a new world of possibilities for treating stroke and traumatic brain injury.

The students, who just recently formed Nomadogen Biotechnologies Inc., have created a combination genetic and cellular therapy dubbed Nomadocytes, which utilizes patient-derived cells to non-invasively deliver therapeutic molecules to brain cells affected by injury or disease.

The group recently won two of three categories at the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge presented by Community Futures Lethbridge Region, earning the top award in the Technology and Innovation Business Stream and Student Business Stream.

“This research is very exciting,” says Zak Stinson, a Regina, Sask. native who came to the U of L in 2011 to complete a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Neuroscience. He is now working on his Master of Science with a major in Neuroscience degree under the guidance of Dr. Bruce McNaughton and is based out of the University of California-Irvine. “Neurodegenerative disorders are devastating to patients, families and the economy. There is massive unmet need for new, better treatments for things like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, and this need is only going to increase as the population ages.”

The beauty of Nomadogen’s technology is its relative simplicity and non-invasive nature.

“Nomadocytes are a naturally occurring type of brain cell that we can derive from bone marrow cells, modify for our own purposes, and re-administer without any invasive neurosurgical procedures,” explains Aubrey Demchuk, a Lethbridge native who recently completed a Master of Science degree with a major in Neuroscience at the U of L. “We are simply adapting a small communication vesicle produced by these cells so that they are attracted specifically to areas of the brain that are damaged, basically anything with scar tissue from either stroke or traumatic brain injury, and using them to deliver a therapeutic message.”

The cells naturally migrate to these damaged areas in the brain before releasing a vesicle that contains a specifically designed DNA molecule. This molecule is taken up by the scar tissue and, when the DNA is expressed, converts the scar tissue back into functional neurons.

The group’s pre-clinical trials in cell culture models have been extremely encouraging and, by fall 2015, testing will move into rodent models.

“If the cells behave in a living brain as we predict they will, the therapeutic potential for Nomadocytes is massive,” says Stinson.

Because the technology they have created is an easily adaptable platform, a litany of other neurodegenerative disorders could potentially be treatable and the therapy could even conceivably be used to target peripheral injuries, such as tissue damage in a limb.

Demchuk, Stinson and partners, Scott Wong and Evan Caton, met as part of the U of L’s award-winning iGEM program and quickly found a synergy in their thinking.

“The four of us have different but complementary backgrounds in genetics, neuroscience, and biochemistry and together we generated a number of ideas that fit together very nicely,” says Demchuk.  “At the end of the iGEM season, we had collectively invested a lot of time and thought into this project and wanted to pursue it further, if only because the research seemed promising. The company was kind of an accident that came out of it.”

She admits that, as scientists, they never thought about the business side of their technology but were encouraged by faculty members within the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) to incorporate and then patent their technology. With guidance from the University-Industry Liaison Office and assistance from technology advisor Bill Halley and the Regional Innovation Network Southern Alberta (RINSA), among others, Nomadogen is generating significant industry buzz.

 “It is very exciting because we are already much more successful than we had ever hoped,” says Demchuk. “We came in with very low expectations and so far we have had a lot of people interested and invested in our idea.”

International Scholars Program Now Expanded

The Campus Alberta Neuroscience International Scholars Program (CANIS) has been expanded to include internationally recognized visiting scholars who participate in conferences or symposia, or who only visit one campus — provided there is significant engagement of the neuroscience and mental health academic community from other Alberta campuses.

Symposium Registration is Now Open!

Register today for Neuroscience Innovation for Improving Brain Health, taking place October 20-21 in Edmonton.

Registration is now open for Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s 5th Annual Symposium – Neuroscience Innovation for Improving Brain Health – taking place October 20-21, 2016 at the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta.

This year’s Symposium will present Alberta’s latest innovations and discoveries in neuroscience and mental health, with an integrative keynote address by Dr. Regina Sullivan, New York University. Join students, prominent researchers, policy makers and distinguished guests for this one-of-a-kind Alberta-centered gathering full of opportunities for collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing.

Poster presentations are available for all participants. Trainees are also invited to submit abstracts for oral presentation.

Travel and accommodations are provided to Alberta researchers and trainees from outside of Edmonton. Alberta trainee registration fees are reimbursed upon attendance at the Symposium.

Visit the Symposium web page for more information and to register

Registration Deadline Extended for Trainee Professional Development Retreat

Register today for the second annual Trainee Professional Development Retreat, taking place October 1-2, 2016 in Canmore. Space is limited.
Through a partnership with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the retreat is a unique opportunity to bring together trainees from across the province to explore professional development topics relevant to their future careers as neuroscience professionals, both inside and outside of academia. The focus of this retreat will be on leadership and the interpersonal and public/professional aspects of communication. These topics have been selected because the ability to work closely with and collaborate with others, and to speak clearly, concisely and persuasively is paramount to success in any career. More information is available on the Retreat webpage HERE
“You will learn about yourself, your leadership style, and other trainees,
in a fun, engaging and interactive environment.”
– 2015 Trainee Retreat Participant
Registration is only $50, which helps to offset the on-site costs of the workshop. Travel and accommodations are provided to all trainee participants at no cost. The workshop can accommodate only 50 participants and spaces are filling quickly. Visit the website for more information on how to register HERE

Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia Researchers Meet to Connect Nationally and Globally

The international conference, Promoting Healthy Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia: Research and Translation, brought together Alberta researchers and world-renowned experts in dementia research to discuss healthy brain aging, delaying or preventing dementia, and care services.

Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia researchers meet to connect nationally and globally.

The international conference, Promoting Healthy Brain Aging and Preventing Dementia: Research and Translation, brought together Alberta researchers and world-renowned experts in dementia research to discuss healthy brain aging, delaying or preventing dementia, and care services.

Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) and the Alberta Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia (HBAD) research community were proud to host the conference, which was held in Banff, Alberta from May 24-27, 2016.

“Dementia is a global, national and local issue,” said Grant McIntyre, Executive Director of CAN. “The solutions to the problems presented by dementia will also be found and implemented globally, nationally, and locally. This conference allows the Alberta research community to increase connections with national and international work and perspectives.”

With over 150 attendees, including researchers, physicians, policymakers, trainees and members of the community, from Alberta, Canada and around the world the conference offered a unique opportunity for sharing knowledge, connection and contribution to important discussions in dementia research and care.

 

Conference strengthens existing relationships and builds new ones

Over the four days of the conference, speakers explored a wide range of topics in dementia research, including: brain and cognitive resilience in aging; vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia; exercise and cognitive interventions and applied research in dementia.

Martin Prince of King’s College London provided a global perspective on dementia issues, research and prevention in his keynote address, Potential for Brain Health Promotion and Dementia Prevention on the conference’s opening night.

A number of partners were involved in supporting the conference and hosting events to further connection and partnerships at the conference, including the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories (ASANT), Alberta Health and the Seniors Health Strategic Clinical Network, the Ontario Brain Institute, and the CIHR Institute of Aging.

Michele Mulder, Executive Director of ASANT, said that, “ASANT wants to develop increased engagement between researchers and those who suffer from dementia and their caregivers. This conference provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen our existing relationships with the research community and begin to build fruitful new ones.”

The conference concluded with a keynote by Morris Moscovitch of the University of Toronto on Changing Views of the Contribution of the Hippocampus to Memory and to Other Cognitive Functions, and a closing panel, chaired by Robert Sutherland of the University of Lethbridge, on future directions for dementia research.

Applications now being accepted for the Alberta MS Collaboration Team Grant Competition

The Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Collaboration is accepting basic science and health research team proposals from investigators based in Alberta for collaborative projects on multiple sclerosis focused on neuroprotection and repair.
Applications now being accepted for the Alberta MS Collaboration Team Grant Competition.

The Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Collaboration (Alberta MS Collaboration) is accepting basic science and health research team proposals from investigators based in Alberta for collaborative projects on multiple sclerosis (MS) focused on neuroprotection and repair. The Collaboration is a multi-stakeholder initiative supporting innovation in MS research and translation in Alberta. Current partners include the Alberta MS Network, Alberta Economic Development and Trade, Alberta Health, Campus Alberta Neuroscience, the MS Society of Canada, and Sanofi Genzyme Canada.

Applications can be submitted by researchers based in Alberta who hold a full-time, continuing faculty appointment. Proposals must be for new projects, without other funding, that include investigators from more than one Alberta institution or involve more than one discipline at a single Alberta institution. A maximum of four team projects will be funded at up to $200,000 CAD total per team (including all direct and indirect costs), over a two year period.

For more details on the competition, please view the Request for Proposals.

Deadline for submissions is July 29, 2016. Applications can be submitted through the MS Society of Canada’s Easygrants System

University part of Alberta partnership to advance research and improve care for MS patients

A new collaboration announced last week will provide $1 million in funding for Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) to enhance multiple sclerosis (MS) research and ultimately improve outcomes for Albertans suffering from the disease.
A new collaboration announced last week will provide $1 million in funding for Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) to enhance multiple sclerosis (MS) research and ultimately improve outcomes for Albertans suffering from the disease.
CAN is a province-wide network of 250 research professionals from the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta, the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, and theHotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary.
At the announcement on March 10, Alberta’s associate health minister, Brandy Payne, committed $500,000 as part of the Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Collaboration initiative, which was originally formed in 2014 by CAN and the Alberta MS Network.
Alberta has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, affecting about 340 out of every 100,000 Albertans.
People with MS in Alberta and worldwide will benefit
“Thanks to this innovative partnership, people with MS in Alberta and around the world will benefit from improved care and better health solutions,” said Payne at the event, which was held at the Kaye Clinic in Edmonton.
The funding was matched by global biotechnology company Sanofi Genzyme Canada, bringing the total committed to $1 million.
“Sanofi Genzyme recognizes that collaboration is essential to accelerate and facilitate research and health innovation. We are a proud partner in this venture that will ultimately improve the health of people living with MS,” said Peter Brenders, Sanofi Genzyme Canada general manager.
The new funding will advance research and innovation, leading to better care and outcomes for MS patients. The funding also supports economic diversification and growth by further developing Alberta’s knowledge-based sectors and attracting investments from industry partners.
New funding will advance research, lead to better care
“We’re really excited about this new partnership,” says HBI member and Alberta MS Network director V. Wee Yong, PhD. “MS researchers in Alberta have made significant discoveries, especially in the last decade, and I am confident that this opportunity will lead to many more.”
“Success in addressing brain health challenges like MS in Alberta requires collaboration across campuses, with industry and with clinics,” says Samuel Weiss, PhD, director of the HBI, and chair of the CAN Steering Committee. “It’s a model for the kinds of collaboration we require to tackle challenging brain health issues, ultimately translating into meaningful outcomes for Albertans.”
Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) is a grassroots provincial network that supports and facilitates collaboration to increase the impact of neuroscience and mental health research, education and knowledge translation. Working with the universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge and relevant government, industry and community partners, CAN enables the neuroscience community to create and apply knowledge to improve brain health in Alberta and beyond.
This week (March 14-20) marks Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.
Making a significant contribution in this area, the University of Calgary has more than 200 faculty members working within the Brain and Mental Health strategic research theme. Led by the HBI, Brain and Mental Health is one of six research themes guiding the University of Calgary toward its Eyes High goals.
This article orignally appeared in the UToday.

Registration Now Open for Computational Neuroscience Workshop!

Register today for the 3rd annual Introductory Workshop on Computational Methods in Neuroscience, taking place June 1-10, 2016 at the University of Lethbridge.

Registration is now open for the 3rd annual Introductory Workshop on Computational Methods in Neuroscience, taking place June 1-10, 2016 at the University of Lethbridge.
Enhance your data analysis skills and strengthen your peer network during this 10-day interactive workshop on the theory and practice of computational methods for analyzing neurobiological data using Matlab. No previous Matlab experience is required. Visit the Workshop web page for more information and to register. Applications are due March 11, 2016.

New this year: the in-person portion of the workshop will be followed by the online course extension (held June 13 – July 29), which will consist of a series of optional lectures and seminars and will provide additional guidance for students on their individual projects. Please contact Renee Dumas for more information about registering for the online extension.

Psychology professor elected president of global society

Keith Yeates named president of International Neuropsychological Society

By Laura Herperger

Pediatric neuropsychologist Keith Yeates, PhD, is known for his research explaining the outcomes of children with acquired brain injury. And now, a society vested in understanding brain-behaviour relationships is recognizing his outstanding leadership by placing him at the head of its worldwide organization.

As the newly elected president of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS), Yeates will lead the premier scientific organization over the next three years. The U.S. based society, formed in 1970, has more than 4,700 members worldwide and is the most influential body for building research, standardizing practices, and connecting investigators in this growing field of study.  

“I’m very honoured by this recognition of my peers. This role means that, as an upholder of the society’s mission, I can promote the study of brain-behavioural relationships in science and education and enhance the application of this knowledge in communities globally,” says Yeates. He also holds the Ronald and Irene Ward Chair in Pediatric Brain Injury which was created by a community donation through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Yeates is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, and an adjunct professor of paediatrics and clinical neurosciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI).  

Role will enhance university research in the area of brain-behaviour

Yeates serving as head of this international body of researchers will enhance the work of brain and mental health research at the University of Calgary.

“I hope I can bring Calgary’s well-established excellence in the area of brain-behaviour research to greater attention on the world stage and further our role in the global community through collaborations,” he says.

Among its many research and educational activities, the INS publishes a monthly journal of leading research in neuropsychology, convenes its membership twice a year to enable global collaboration and provides awards to recognize outstanding individual achievements and programs. 

Brain and mental health initiatives aim to improve diagnosis and recovery

Yeates is the university lead of the Integrated Concussion Research Program and the Traumatic Brain Injury NeuroTeam, initiatives within the Brain and Mental Health research strategy

The Traumatic Brain Injury NeuroTeam works closely with the HBI, ACHRI, the Faculty of Kinesiology and the Department of Psychology as the leaders of an integrated, university-wide research program to address sports-related concussion and other forms of mild traumatic brain injury.

The Integrated Concussion Research Program aims to produce a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of brain injury and find novel approaches to improve diagnosis and recovery.

Yeates recently received a prestigious CIHR Foundation Grant for his novel research program advancing concussion assessment and treatment in children and youth. His three-year term at the INS begins in February 2016.

Led by the HBI, Brain and Mental Health is one of six strategic research themes guiding the university towards its Eyes High goals.

This article first appeared in the UToday

Practice being afraid for better mental health

Exposure-based therapy program challenges people with anxiety and phobias to face their fears head on.

By Amy Hewko on October 16, 2015

 Facing your fears can be a challenge, and it’s one that a group of therapists are asking their patients to undertake.

 Janet Caryk, registered psychologist and a clinical lecturer with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and Joti Brar-Josan, registered provisional psychologist, are two of the minds behind Fright Night, an exposure-based cognitive behavioural therapy program that challenges patients with anxiety and phobias to face their fears head on. Up to six people participate in each session, where they complete a specifically tailored exposure.

 “If you come to Fright Night, you practice being afraid that night. You have to put something on the agenda and perform a therapist-assisted exposure,” Caryk says.

 “A lot of our patients are afraid of the exposure but, on the other hand, the motivation is there to be able to do these things,” Brar-Josan explains of the process. “We usually target the exposure based on what’s relevant to their lives. For a student who has social anxiety and performance anxiety, their exposures involve giving us presentations so that they can do that in the real world.”

 Before setting foot into Fright Night, the therapists and patients work together to establish a realistic goal. Someone with social anxiety, for example, may be asked to buy a coffee while sporting an exuberant hat or funky sunglasses. During the exposure, patients are asked to rate their fear on a scale of one to 100 and are asked to vocalize their fear-based thoughts. “There’s never pressure,” Caryk says. “But there’s lots of encouragement. We want you to move along because this phobia is interfering with your life, but we aren’t going to force you.”

 Sarah Von Gertzen is intimately familiar with the process, having attended two previous sessions. The 20-year-old has social anxiety, a condition characterized by fear of being scrutinized and judged negatively by people in social situations. “I have the same thought process whether I’m talking to somebody, having to pay with cash or anything that is really stress-inducing to me,” she says, adding that it’s the “what ifs” of a situation that trigger her anxiety. “If I can’t manage the thoughts, then that’s when I get physical symptoms.”

 During her first experience at Fright Night, Von Gertzen was challenged to pay for a coffee at the neighbouring Starbucks using only change. Overwhelmed, she opted to watch the other patrons while her therapist, Wes Miller, completed the task. “Dr. Miller went up and he dropped all of the change. It was my worst fears combined,” she says, specifically referencing the fear of attracting scorn from other customers or irritation from the employees. “It was a good experience because when he dropped the change on the ground or when he was looking at the coffee menu and didn’t know what to get, no one cared. Everyone was in their own world.”

 Caryk notes that while confronting their fears is an important part of the evening, there is another huge benefit: the group support is infallible. It offers patients the kinship of knowing that they are not the only person with a phobic avoidance disorder and offers the unwavering support of people with a similar mindset. While the phobias may vary, their experiences are similar; the group encourages each other to push through their fears on the pathway to better mental health. “The thing about Fright Night is that it’s supportive. You tell your secret and find out that, as we always say, ‘other lovely, smart, competent people’ have phobias. You’re not alone,” Caryk says. 

 “With mental health, sometimes it’s hard to see it. You don’t have a broken arm. You don’t have a broken leg. You can’t see what the struggle is for someone who’s on the bus,” Von Gertzen says of her Fright Night experiences, specifically citing her own trigger of public transit. “There are people in business suits and then there are people like me, a student. [Mental health] affects everybody blindly.”

 With a few Fright Nights behind them, Caryk and Brar-Josan are thrilled looking toward the future. So much, in fact, they intend to expand their outreach with Stage Fright, a program that offers post-secondary students the opportunity to practice presenting in preparation for assignments.

Multi-talented student hopes to write new chapter in neuroscience

Liam McCoy writes everything from fiction to computer code. Now, the winner of UAlberta’s top undergrad scholarship wants to “invent something revolutionary.”

By Bev Betkowski on September 18, 2015

 (Edmonton) Liam McCoy has penned a sci-fi novel, composed and performed a poem for his high school’s Remembrance Day ceremony, captained a hockey team and written computer code, so when it comes to choosing what to study in university, the options seem limitless.

 But for the 18-year-old, there is just one choice: science. In particular, biomedical research. “I was always the kid asking what and why,” said McCoy, who enters the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science this fall to study neuroscience at the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. “I see all these people who make tremendous medical advances and I think with science you can do so much good. You can solve one problem and that can open up an entire field. By finding answers, you can help millions of people.”

 That driving curiosity and a record of academic excellence have earned the St. Albert resident the President’s Centenary Citation, the U of A’s most generous undergraduate scholarship, valued at $50,000. McCoy is among top faculty, students and staff being recognized at the U of A’s annual Celebrate! Teaching. Learning. Research. event being held at the Myer Horowitz Theatre Sept. 23. Everyone is welcome to attend.

 McCoy teases both his right and left brain by dabbling in fiction, poetry—he is currently seeking to publish a 400-page novel he wrote between the ages of 15 and 17—and most recently, writing a program aimed at teaching a computer how to teach itself to play a perfect game of tick-tack-toe. In short, he just loves to learn for the sake of learning. “I’ve always wanted to know more about the world.”

 Neuroscience—the study of the nervous system—holds particular fascination for McCoy, who one day hopes to “invent something revolutionary” through research. “The brain is largely uncharted territory and there are so many unanswered questions, ranging from how we think to Parkinson’s disease and spinal injuries. Neuroscience will be a good jumping-off point for me.”

 McCoy chose the U of A for its strong connections to biomedical research and the community, through leading institutions such as the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, the U of A Hospital and the National Institute for Nanotechnology. As he begins his studies, McCoy is excited about the “vibe” at the U of A, noting “there’s a lot of leading stuff going on.” During a visit to campus as a thank-you for a high-school fundraiser, McCoy was impressed by some of the new technology he saw.

 “In addition to being my local university, it’s a leading university that draws scientific minds from all over the world.”

 There’s also a family tradition of attending the U of A—one McCoy is proud to uphold. His parents, grandparents, a brother and assorted cousins, aunts and uncles have all attended “and nobody had anything but the best to say about the university.”

 McCoy is excited about delving into classes that will bring him to a new level of learning. “I’m looking forward to getting into higher-level concepts and meeting like-minded people in class and in clubs on campus. From what I’ve seen, the university has a strong sense of community and there seems to be so much happening.”

 He plans to try to balance his studies with sports and volunteer work that focuses on some kind of global initiative. “I feel very privileged just for having been born where I am and being in a situation where we can do so much good just by being Canadians. The opportunities we have for fundraising and awareness here mean you can be a voice for someone who doesn’t really have one.”

 McCoy offered thanks for his accomplishments to his family, teachers, coaches and other mentors, “everyone I’ve collaborated with on leadership and volunteer events. I’ve had help along the way and can’t take sole credit.”

 Receiving this year’s centenary scholarship has added to McCoy’s sense of gratitude for the advantages he has. “This gives me the resources to focus on my studies and it gives me the option of taking an unpaid summer research internship so that I can stay working directly in the field of science.

 “It’s a tremendous honour to win this scholarship. I want to thank the selection committee and the university and offer a promise of sorts,” McCoy said. “A scholarship like this comes with an obligation. By selecting someone, they place a lot of faith in the recipient, and I want them to know that faith is not misplaced. I hope to use this funding to do some awesome things—at the very least, to learn the skills and knowledge required to do amazing things in the future.”

Alberta’s Neuroscientists Among CIHR Foundation Scheme

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently announced the recipients of their newly launched Foundation Scheme “Live Pilots.” This new funding program is aimed at providing long-term support to new, mid-career, and established health researchers across Canada. In a shift away from the traditional funding structure, this new scheme will support researchers directly, rather than individual projects.

By Jordan Scott

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently announced the recipients of their newly launched Foundation Scheme “Live Pilots.” This new funding program is aimed at providing long-term support to new, mid-career, and established health researchers across Canada. In a shift away from the traditional funding structure, this new scheme will support researchers directly, rather than individual projects.

Neuroscientists from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary were among the nearly 150 research scientists across Canada who received this long term funding from the CIHR.

Dr. Toshifumi Yokota, an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute(NMHI) and the Friends of Garrett Cumming Research Chair for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, was awarded five years of funding from CIHR. Yokota’s work focuses on researching and developing new therapies for people suffering from muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders. “This support is great for me, I’m very honoured,” Yokota says. “It will definitely have an impact and now I can develop a more long term plan.”

Dr. Bruce Pike, a Professor of Radiology and Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Calgary, a Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair in Healthy Brain Aging, and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) was amongst the recipients. “This is really key funding for my lab,” Pike says. “I’m delighted.” The seven-year support from CIHR means that Pike will continue his research into quantitative MRI methods for basic and clinical neuroscience.

CAN extends congratulations to Drs. Yokota and Pike on their success! See below for other CAN members who were successful in this year’s competition:

 

University of Alberta (NMHI)

Dr. Toshifumi Yokota (5 Years)

Development of Novel Therapy for Neuromuscular Diseases

 

University of Calgary (HBI)

Dr. Gerald Zamponi  (7 Years)

Voltage gated calcium channels: molecular targets for pain therapeutics

Dr. Bruce Pike (7 Years)

Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Brain Structure and Function

Dr. Paul Kubes (7 Years)

The interplay between subtypes of neutrophils, monocytes, macrophage, iNKT cells and platelets in infection, sterile injury and metastasis in the liver and other organs

Dr. Keith Yeates (7 years)

Advancing Concussion Assessment and Treatment in Children and Youth

Dr. C. Adam Kirton (7 Years)

The Alberta Perinatal Stroke Program: Neuromodulation to Optimize Outcomes

Dr. Richard Frayne (7 Years)

Quantitative MR Imaging of Vascular Contributions to Aging, Cognitive Decline and Stroke

Dr. Mathew Hill (5 Years)

Corticolimbic Endocannabinoid Signaling and the Regulation of Stress and Anxiety

Campus Alberta Neuroscience Welcomes Clint Westgard to the Team!

In early August, Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) welcomed Clint Westgard to the team! Clint joins us from the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, where he’s spent the last seven years building successful partnerships with organizations like Alberta Health Services and securing important internships and practicums for students.

In early August, Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) welcomed Clint Westgard to the team! Clint joins us from the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, where he’s spent the last seven years building successful partnerships with organizations like Alberta Health Services and securing important internships and practicums for students.

Clint completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary before attending the University of British Columbia where he received a Master’s in History in 2003. Since then he’s been working in various pockets of education and expanding his network across Alberta and British Columbia.

In his new role as Partnership Coordinator, Clint will focus on helping launch the Alberta Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Collaboration. This exciting new partnership between CAN and the endMS Network will bring together researchers from the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge.

In addition to working with the MS group, Clint will explore additional partnership opportunities that build on CAN’s commitment to advancing neuroscience and mental health research, education and innovation in Alberta!

Campus Alberta Neuroscience Gearing up for Their Biggest Symposia Yet!

In the fall of 2012, Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) hosted its first annual symposium, aimed at bringing the Alberta neuroscience community together to help build the foundations for province wide collaborations. Now, 3 years later, the CAN team is gearing up for their 4th annual symposia.

By Jordan Scott

In the fall of 2012, Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) hosted its first annual symposium, aimed at bringing the Alberta neuroscience community together to help build the foundations for province wide collaborations. Now, 3 years later, the CAN team is gearing up for their 4th annual symposia. The event has grown considerably in scope and scale, but the focus has remained on developing and maintaining meaningful collaborations amongst the provinces three major universities.

“Through the symposia the community is becoming better connected, and it’s great to see the increasing number of people meeting each other again, instead of for the first time,” says Grant McIntyre, CAN’s Executive Director. “Some of the conversations started at that first symposia have developed into collaborative projects as a result of those meetings, and that’s the whole intent.”

CAN’s upcoming October symposium will be their biggest one yet with more than 250 attendees expected. This three-day event, held in Calgary, will encompass two unique yet interacting symposia. The first day will focus specifically on the current state of research on depression while days 2 and 3 will feature a broader showcase of various neuroscience fields. “We’ve always done a very focused symposium, but this year we wanted to bring the entire Alberta neuroscience community together to promote more multi-disciplinary interactions,” says Jen Milne, CAN’s Project Manager.

The Innovation in Depression Research and Intervention Symposium will feature topics such as big data, biomarkers, and non-pharmacological interventions in depression and will also include people with lived experience. Through their partnership with the Canadian Depression Research Intervention Network (CDRIN), CAN’s hoping to help bridge the gaps between basic scientists and clinicians.

The program for the Neuroscience Research and Innovation Symposia is being shaped based on session submissions from researchers and partners in the neuroscience community. “This year we changed format a little bit so that it’s not focused on one particular topic,” says Artur Luczak, a member of the Scientific Program Committee, and an Associate Professor at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience in Lethbridge. “By opening this to the community and asking what they think are the most interesting topics we can make it more engaging for everybody.”

In previous years the symposia has focused on specific themes like neurodegeneration, optogenetics, and nervous system injury. As the event grows and gains traction in the Alberta neuroscience and mental health landscape, McIntyre wants to ensure the yearly symposium always remains flexible. “I don’t think we’ve locked into a pattern and I hope we don’t. I hope next year’s is different again and we continue to develop and explore good ideas.”

CANdex launch is another step towards stronger collaborations

Neuroscience and mental health researchers across Alberta have a unique and exciting new tool at their disposal following the May 21, 2015 launch of the CANdex.

Neuroscience and mental health researchers across Alberta have a unique and exciting new tool at their disposal following the May 21, 2015 launch of the CANdex.

Developed by Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN), the CANdex provides access to a public database of researchers working at the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge — and is Alberta’s first multi-institutional site encompassing researchers from across the province and representing each CAN partner institution equally.

According to CAN Executive Director Grant McIntyre, the utility centralizes information, is easy to use and highly collaborative. It is in its initial phase and is being developed to promote community engagement among the province’s many principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows and trainees. It will be a powerful tool for creating partnerships that enhance research and expand knowledge.

“The CANdex is more about communication than it is data,” McIntyre says, explaining how the CANdex was created in response to the neuroscience and mental health community’s requests for a streamlined database that could act as a one-stop shop for up-to-date information about Alberta’s researchers. “It’s about enabling a community to communicate rather than about simply putting data on a server somewhere.”

While gathering current and up-to-date data was a given for making the CANdex effective, it was crucial that the CAN development team focus on functionality to create a searchable, highly intuitive platform that would enable users to easily stay connected.

“It’s a great tool for keeping people connected and making the distances between campuses seem much smaller,” says Dr. Andrew Bulloch, Interim Director of the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education. “The CANdex is going to open up new doors to collaborations and connections just by making it easier for us to find each other.”

With the launch of the CANdex’s first phase now in the rearview mirror — and as more and more researchers sign up and the feedback is resoundingly positive — the CAN team is turning its attention to the future, exploring new possibilities and features to implement in the next version, including expanding the relational elements of the directory. As the interconnectivity of the site is continually enhanced, users of the CANdex will quickly be able to see who is in which lab, and which researchers across the province are collaborating together.

The CAN team is working to include trainees and graduate students into upcoming versions of the CANdex. They’re also exploring the possibility of linking the CANdex to resources like PubMed to give users easy access to researchers publication records.

Exactly how the CANdex will evolve, however, will be driven by users themselves, to ensure it offers the greatest benefit. The CAN team is dedicated to making sure this important new tool not only reflects the needs of the community, but also brings researchers across Alberta together to advance research and education.

Israel-Alberta Neuroscience Symposium fuels international collaboration

To foster collaboration between top neuroscience research institutions in Israel and Alberta, an international symposium was held last month to promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Neuroscience researchers foster scientific exchange and share brain and mental health expertise

To foster collaboration between top neuroscience research institutions in Israel and Alberta, an international symposium was held last month to promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) and Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) partnered to host the Israel-Alberta Neuroscience Symposium in Banff, Alberta for a three-day event, held June 28 to 30.

Six neuroscientists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology engaged in collaborative discussion with researchers from the universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge.

“At the University of Calgary, we are partnering with the best from around the world to bring about changes in everything from basic science through to translational research,” said President Elizabeth Cannon while addressing the crowd of distinguished guests and researchers in attendance at the opening reception.

Events at the symposium were attended by more than 50 researchers, trainees and dignitaries including Ambassador Rafael Barak, Ambassador of Israel to Canada; Hon. Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification; and Cam Westhead, Banff-Cochrane MLA.

Sharing expertise to jump-start significant research collaborations

“This is a kick-start towards the goal of nurturing mutual interests into meaningful collaborations,” remarked Samuel Weiss, PhD, director of the HBI. “There is a tremendous amount we can learn from one another, and there is a great deal more to learn in the realm of brain and mental health that will only be achieved through collaborative approaches.”

“Today, breakthroughs in science aren’t a one-man show. They’re about teams co-operating,” echoed Ambassador Barak.

International partnerships are more important than ever as researchers find themselves facing larger and more complex problems.

Speakers at the neuroscience symposium showcased a variety of topics of shared expertise including movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, neural circuitry, neurodegeneration, neurotechnology and more.

Smaller breakout sessions identified the path forward to advance specific research collaborations. “This is about identifying interesting, viable and impactful neuroscience collaborations that can be developed by these five incredible institutions,” said Grant McIntyre, PhD, CAN’s executive director.

Eager to share ideas with one another, researchers made the most of this opportunity to interact. “We have all the elements to develop really fruitful collaborations,” commented Tamir Ben-Hur, MD-PhD, professor of neuroscience and Israel S. Wechsler Chair of Neurology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “The people here have common interests, the same level of great science, and good chemistry.”

Symposium strengthens existing international relationships

“Our special strength here is that we’re building on pre-existing relationships,” said Anthony Phillips, PhD, scientific director for the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. “I know the quality of science in both countries is remarkable so nothing but good things can come of this.”

The scientific exchange followed closely on the heels of last month’s announcement of the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Program, a $35 million funding scheme for Canadian and Israeli researchers working in biomedicine, with an initial focus on neuroscience.

The symposium also builds on the university’s formal partnership agreement with the Technion signed this spring, with a specific focus to promote collaborative research in energy and neurosciences.

The HBI’s leadership of the University of Calgary’s Brain and Mental Health research strategy coupled with CAN’s dedication to facilitating multi-campus collaborations made them ideal hosts for this international symposium.

Trainee Mobility Program

For neuroscience and mental health trainees, this program supports short-term visits between the three Alberta research institutions (U of A, U of C and U of L.)
Established in September, this program is designed to facilitate knowledge-sharing among trainees and scholars in the Campus Alberta Neuroscience network.
The exchange may include travel to more than one Alberta campus and/or shorter multiple visits to one or more Alberta campuses to participate in such things as:
  • hands-on experience in research and education
  • exploration/development of ideas, experiments, techniques, and results
  • lecture series, seminars, workshops
  • research days/symposia

For more information, please see the program page.

First Shared Education Course Launches

CAN’s first shared course, Human Neuropsychology launched September 10 with 110 students across the campuses of the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge.
Available for credit at each university, the course is taught through interactive live-streaming.

The course instructor is pioneer and leader in the study of human neuropsychology, Dr. Bryan Kolb.

Human Neuropsychology was initiated to support CAN’s goal of improving access for Alberta’s neuroscience students to expertise and resources beyond the boundaries of a single campus.

The course covers the integration of the literature on human and nonhuman brain organization. Topics include the anatomical and functional organization of the cerebral hemispheres, the cerebral organization of cognitive processes including memory, language, spatial ability, attention, and emotion, and the effects of neurological disorders on these functions.

The course runs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00-3:15 pm. The course is offered as:
  • Psychology 3610, University of Lethbridge
  • PSYCO 377 A, University of Alberta
  • PSYC 479, University of Calgary

Academic Exchange Program

We are pleased to announce the renewal and renaming of the Alberta Neuroscience Network Academic Exchange program between the universities of Lethbridge, Calgary and Alberta, through funding by Campus Alberta Neuroscience.
This program is designed to support up to one neuroscience exchange visitor per month to each institution.
The long-term goal of the program is to strengthen the clinical ties and research collaborations between the three universities. The exchange visitor may participate in activities such as:
  • delivering academic seminar/invited lecture
  • meeting with research group/participation in or preparation of collaborative research
  • preparation of manuscripts
  • preparation of grant proposals
  • meeting with graduate/undergraduate students
  • Graduate Studies affairs, e.g. participation in committee meeting/examiner, etc.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE/funding-programs/#academic-exchange