Canadian Neuroanalytics Scholars Program

Campus Alberta Neuroscience, in partnership with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, the Tannenbaum Open Science Institute at The Neuro and the Ontario Brain Institute, with support from The Hilary & Galen Weston Foundation are proud to launch the Canadian Neuroanalytics Scholars Program (Programme Canadien de Recherche Neuroanalytique). This program addresses the need to effectively utilize existing open neuroscience data in Canada and the increasing demand for professionals in the artificial intelligence and machine learning space by training scholars with advanced analytical skills and hands-on experience, leveraging and linking the infrastructure, resources, and expertise of research and industry partners across Canada.

Overview

Canada is currently experiencing a surge in open neuroscience data, and this surge has the potential to fuel innovation and generate groundbreaking discoveries that can revolutionize our approach to disease prevention and treatment. Individuals with the most cutting-edge advanced analytics skills will be required to fully realize the potential of this data. Canada’s exceptional data science talent is urgently needed in neuroscience to combat the growing challenge of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.

Over the course of four years, the Canadian Neuroanalytics Scholars (CNS) Program will support and train up to 20 postdoctoral scholars in advanced analytics, providing them with hands-on experience. The program will leverage and connect the infrastructure, resources, and expertise available through research and industry partners across Canada. The goal is to cultivate a world-class talent pool that can effectively utilize the existing open neuroscience data and meet the growing demand for neuroscience research in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML).

This program aims to increase the availability of skills that are crucial for success in this new era and grow the talent pipeline necessary to effectively harness existing open neuroscience data and address the incredible potential for advances in neurodegeneration, brain aging, and other neurological problems. It will not only maximize the utilization of existing open neuroscience data but also make a positive difference in the wider neuroscience community by increasing the supply of skills essential for success in the evolving data-driven economy.

The impact of the CNS Program will be far-reaching. It will benefit the scholars themselves, as well as their research partners. Moreover, it will maximize the use of the existing open neuroscience data. Beyond that, it will have a positive impact on the dementia and neurodegenerative disease community, and even extend its influence into the broader data-driven economy.

About the CNS Program

The CNS Program is intended to create a cohort of like-minded scholars who can collaborate on the use and linkage of open neuroscience datasets. It is expected that scholars awarded through this funding opportunity will embrace the goals of the program and participate fully in all that the program has to offer. The main goals of the CNS Program are to:

  • Recruit and train scholars and link them to novel projects with existing, mature neuroscience research networks.
  • Create a community of practice by bringing together the scholars, neuroscience researchers, people with lived experience, and industry partners.
  • Build a roadmap to inform priority data linkages and best practices across the Canadian open neuroscience data ecosystem.
Recruitment and Training

Each CNS Program Cohort will consist of 10 scholars on a two-year term, for a total of 20 scholars over four years. These scholars will have intermediate-to-advanced backgrounds in data analytics and/or AI/ML and may come from academia or industry. The Program will work with Training Partners to grow and nurture the skillsets of these scholars. Research Partners will provide further training and support to ensure the scholars have a fluent understanding of the datasets, methods used for collection and curation, and the clinical context.

The CNS Program leverages existing programs offered by Training Partners, to ensure scholars have formal affiliation and access to training, high-quality resources, infrastructure, and mentorship to grow their skillset. There will be core and elective modules, technical and non-technical, for scholars to mix and match to best suit their experience, skills, and needs. Modules will be a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops, and capstone projects. Core modules will provide scholars with general competencies required to apply AI/ML techniques to neuroscience datasets, while electives will cover a wide range of topics and skills for scholars to chose from. Additional training and support will be provided by the Research Partners and a “Help Desk” function will be available for scholars to call on a data scientist for help addressing data integration and federation challenges.

Creating a Community of Practice

An annual meeting will be held to bring the scholars together, along with all project partners and organizations, neuroscience research experts, people with lived experience, and industry partners to share lessons learned, to collaboratively solve problems, and to build strong relationships between all groups. The CNS Program aims to create a more tightly-knit pan-Canadian neuroscience community, building transdisciplinary bridges between data science and neuroscience. Additionally, a regular virtual “Methods Club” will be organized where scholars can gather to discuss the latest tools and techniques for data analysis and its applications, and explore topics that researchers and industry are thinking about or working on.

Building a Roadmap

The CNS Program scholars will inform the development of a strategic plan to prioritize linking open neuroscience datasets across Canada, with an emphasis on supporting projects in dementia and neurodegenerative disease. This will inform project-level support for the scholars to ensure they have access to all of the data they need. It will also inform plans toward a Canadian shared open neuroscience data ecosystem.

A key goal of the program is to link existing neuroscience open datasets. Scholars must make use of at least one of the neuroscience open datasets from Ontario Brain InstituteThe Neuro, or Hotchkiss Brain Institute, or provide justification for the use of a different dataset. The CNS program will provide technical support in linking datasets via the Help Desk position. The Help Desk will provide support to scholars in linking the three datasets listed above, and/or other neuroscience open datasets.

Interested in participating in the CNS Program?

Notice of Intent (NOI) Applications for the first CNS Program cohort are now open. Please submit your NOI by no later than March 27, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST. NOIs will be reviewed by the CNS Program steering committee, and successful NOIs will be invited to submit Full Applications. Full Applications to the CNS Program are by invitation only.

Key Dates

Notice of Intent Applications Open December 11, 2023
Upcoming Q&A Webinar March 5, 2024 at 10am MST

Register here.

New Notice of Intent Deadline  March 27, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST
New Full Applications Deadline

(Full Applications are by invitation only)

May 15, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST
Notifications of Decision Summer 2024
Program Start Late Summer/Early Fall 2024

Application Summary

Each CNS Program Cohort will consist of 10 scholars on a two-year term, for a total of 20 scholars over four years. These scholars will have intermediate-to-advanced backgrounds in data analytics and/or AI/ML and may come from academia or industry. The Program will work with Training Partners to grow and nurture the skillsets of these scholars. Research Partners will provide further training and support to ensure the scholars have a fluent understanding of the datasets, methods used for collection and curation, and the clinical context.

The CNS Program leverages existing programs offered by Training Partners, to ensure scholars have formal affiliation and access to training, high-quality resources, infrastructure, and mentorship to grow their skillset. There will be core and elective modules, technical and non-technical, for scholars to mix and match to best suit their experience, skills, and needs. Modules will be a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops, and capstone projects. Core modules will provide scholars with general competencies required to apply AI/ML techniques to neuroscience datasets, while electives will cover a wide range of topics and skills for scholars to chose from. Additional training and support will be provided by the Research Partners and a “Help Desk” function will be available for scholars to call on a data scientist for help addressing data integration and federation challenges.

For more information on the CNS Program, please refer to the Application Guidelines.

Notice of Intent Applications Open: December 11, 2023
Notice of Intent Application Deadline: March 27, 2023 by 12pm (noon) MST
Full Application (by invitation only) Deadline: May 15, 2024 by 12pm (noon) MST
Notifications of Decision: Summer 2024

The CNS Program will award 10 scholars with $70,000 total funding per year for a period of two years. The first CNS Program Cohort will start in late summer/early fall of 2024.

Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses.

The Notice of Intent will be used to determine an applicant’s eligibility. They must demonstrate that they meet the following criteria:

  • Applicant:
    • must be affiliated with a degree-granting research institution in Canada for the term of this award; Canadian citizenship is not required
    • at the start of the funding term, must have five or fewer years of full-time training after completion of a doctoral degree; applicants may be currently working toward a PhD or MD at the time of application submission, but must have obtained the degree before funding commences
    • at the time of application submission, must identify a research supervisor according to the criteria below
  • Supervisor:
    • must hold a full-time faculty position at a degree-granting research institution in Canada
    • must conduct research primarily in the field of neuroscience, with a preference for research conducted in neurodegeneration and/or aging
    • can only supervise one scholar awarded from this competition, i.e., a supervisor can only be associated with a single applicant
    • for the Notice of Intent, the identified supervisor can be potential or tentative and may change for the Full Application
  • Research project:
    • must be conducted within Canada
    • should be a novel project or a novel collaboration, i.e., not a continuation of an existing project
      • existing projects may be considered, but priority will be given to new projects and collaborations
    • must have a research question or objectives directly related to the field of neuroscience
      • preference will be given to projects with the potential to improve quality of life and care for those living with a brain disorder
      • preference will be given to research conducted in neurodegeneration/aging
    • must prominently incorporate application of advanced analytics methods to open neuroscience datasets and prioritize the development of linkages among such datasets
      • must make use of at least one of the neuroscience open datasets from Ontario Brain Institute, Montreal Neurological Institute, or Hotchkiss Brain Institute; justification will be required for projects using different datasets
    • for the Notice of Intent, the proposed research project information can be tentative and may change for the Full Application

For complete information on eligibility, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

Application to the CNS Program follows a two-stage process:

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI), to be submitted via the Online Notice of Intent Submission. The NOI will be used for eligibility screening. The NOI must be received before the deadline on March 27, 2024.
  2. Full Application, to be submitted through the online Full Application submission. A personalized link will be sent to the applicant once the NOI has been screened and approved. The Full Application must be received before the deadline on May 15, 2024.

It is imperative that the NOI and Full Application are proofread before submission; changes after the deadline are not allowed. Only a single NOI and Full Application will be accepted per applicant. A list of application questions is provided in the Application Guidelines for reference only.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure the application submission adheres to all requirements and is submitted before the deadline.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

Applicants intending to submit a Full Application to this program are required to submit a NOI electronically through the Online Notice of Intent Submission.

The purpose of the NOI is to provide necessary information in planning for peer review. NOIs will not undergo formal review and comments are not provided at the NOI stage. NOIs will be used to ensure that all applicants are eligible for this program as per the Application Guidelines. As such, CAN and the CNS Program reserve the right to contact any applicant to suggest revisions or retraction of the intent to apply.

NOIs must be received before the deadline in on March 27, 2024. A personal link providing access to the Full Application Submission will be sent to the Applicant once the NOI has been received and approved.

A list of questions to be answered on the NOI is provided in the Application Guidelines.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

Full Applications must be submitted electronically through the online application submission, accessed via a personal link sent to the applicant after their NOI has been approved.

It is imperative that the Full Application is proofread before submission; changes to the Full Application after the deadline are not allowed. Only a single copy of a Full Application will be accepted. The use of a personal submission link will allow applicants to leave a submission and come back to it, saving any progress that has been made.

Full Applications and supporting letters must be received in completion before the deadline on May 15, 2024 at 12pm (noon) MST. A list of questions to be answered on the Full Application is provided in the Application Guidelines as a reference only to allow the applicant to prepare the necessary documents prior to submission of their application. Letters from Supervisors and Letters of Recommendation should be submitted with the Full Application where possible, but may be emailed to CAN (abneuro@ucalgary.ca) directly from the referee if required.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure the application submission adheres to all requirements and is received, including supporting letters, before the deadline.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

The Full Application requires two types of supporting letters: one Supervisor Support Letter and two Letters of Recommendation.

The Supervisor Support Letter must include: a list of postdoctoral scholars in the supervisor’s associated program and the current source of their funding; a list of the supervisor’s currently funded grants (if not in their CCV); confirmation of commitment by the supervisor to support the applicant with all necessary elements for conducting the research project; an outline of professional development and growth opportunities available for the applicant at the host institution; a brief outline of how the research environment (tools and facilities, available expertise, supervisor’s own investigations) will contribute to and synchronize with the applicant’s proposed research project; and a description of why the supervisor recommends the applicant for the CNS Program.

The application requires the applicant to identify two individuals (referees) who can provide letters of recommendation. It is suggested that the applicant choose referees who can speak directly to their academic and research strengths, abilities, and achievements (current and past supervisors are recommended). Letters should focus on these areas, but may additionally address the quality and potential of the proposed research project and the applicant’s potential for professional development and career growth. The identified supervisor cannot be used as a referee.

The Supervisor Support Letter and Letters of Recommendation should be submitted with the Full Application, but may be emailed to CAN (abneuro@ucalgary.ca) directly from the supervisor or referee, if required.

For complete information on how to apply, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

All eligible and complete applications will undergo peer review by individuals with expertise in data science, advanced analytics, and neuroscience as related to the program scope. Any conflict of interest will be taken into consideration when assigning reviewers.

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of merit of the application and supervision team, quality of the research project and environment, and relevance to the goals of the CNS Program. Specifically, applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Academic qualifications, research experience, and leadership potential of the applicant
  • Supervisor’s expertise and relevance to the applicant’s proposed research project
  • Applicant “fit” for the program
  • Feasibility of the proposed research project, including integration of open neuroscience data
  • Innovativeness and potential impact of the proposed research project, including integration of open neuroscience data
  • Appropriateness of the research environment for the proposed research, including access to expertise, tools, and connections required to successfully carry out the project as well as opportunities and plans for the applicant’s professional development and growth
  • Letters of recommendation

Special consideration will be given to projects which:

  • are novel or involve a novel collaboration, i.e., not a continuation of an existing project
  • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research, as applicable
  • ethically and sensitively integrate consideration for diversity and traditionally underrepresented groups, including principles of SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and/or framework for respectful involvement of Indigenous Peoples, as applicable
  • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, clinical or policy implementation, commercialization, etc.

A maximum of 10 applicants will be invited to participate based on the review committee evaluations. The CNS Program and CAN will not enter discussion on specific items in the review process or reasons for the rejection of applications. All decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

For complete information on the review process, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

Successful applicants must accept their offer within ten (10) business days of receiving the notification of decision from CAN. An acceptance form will be provided and must be returned with supporting documentation to CAN by email, signed by all relevant parties, within this timeframe. Any potential conditions or required clarifications and their related timelines will be outlined with the offer. Failure to comply with this requirement may lead to withdrawal of the offer.

Successful applicants, on acceptance of their offer, will be provided with funding of up to CAN $70,000 over a period of two years. Payment of funds is dependent on compliance with program requirements and deliverables. Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses. Onboarding of the successful applicant and any other fellowship, research, or employment requirements from the host institution will be the sole responsibility of the supervisor.

All successful applicants, on acceptance of funding, will be required to submit verification of their term start date with the host institution and all applicable ethics certifications and approvals, or proof that they will be in place before research commences.

For complete information on the Terms and Conditions, please refer to the full Application Guidelines.

Full Application Guidelines may be found HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Notice of Intent submission deadline is March 27, 2024.

The Full Application deadline is May 15, 2024.

The applicant must:

  • Be affiliated with a Canadian post-secondary institution
  • Have less than 5 years of full-time training after completion of a doctoral degree
    • Current PhD students can apply if their degree will be completed before the program start date

The proposed supervisor must:

  • Hold a full-time faculty position at a degree-granting research institution in Canada
  • Conduct research primarily in the field of neuroscience
  • Only supervise one scholar awarded from this competition; i.e., a supervisor can only be associated with a single applicant

The proposed research project:

  • must be conducted within Canada
  • must have a research question or objectives directly related to neuroscience
  • must prominently incorporate application of advanced analytics methods to open neuroscience datasets
  • should be a novel project or a novel collaboration (i.e., not a continuation of an existing project)

Preference will be given to projects which:

  • are novel projects or novel collaborations
  • have potential to improve quality of life and care for those living with a brain disorder
  • are researching neurodegeneration and/or aging
  • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research  (as applicable)
  • ethically and sensitively integrate consideration for diversity and traditionally underrepresented groups, including principles of SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and/or framework for the respectful involvement of Indigenous Peoples (as applicable)
  • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, clinical or policy implementation, commercialization, etc.

Up to 10 applicants will be awarded $70,000 per year for a period of two years.

The application is a two-stage process. First, the applicant must submit a Notice of Intent through the online submission. This must be completed by March 27, 2024 at noon (MT). Then, the applicant must submit a Full Application through the online submission, due by May 15, 2024 at noon (MT). For more information on what each stage requires, please see the Application Guidelines.

All eligible and completed applications will undergo peer review by individuals with expertise in data science, advanced analytics and neuroscience as related to the program scope. Any Conflict of Interest will be taken into consideration when assigning reviewers. 

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of merit of the applicant and supervision team, quality of the research project and environment, and relevance to the goals of the CNS Program. Specifically, applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Academic qualifications, research experience, and leadership potential of the Applicant
  • Supervisor’s expertise and relevance to the Applicant’s proposed research project
  • Applicant “fit” for the program
  • Feasibility of the proposed research project, including integration of open neuroscience data
  • Innovativeness and potential impact of the proposed research project, including integration of open neuroscience data
  • Appropriateness of the research environment for the proposed research, including access to expertise, tools, and connections required to successfully carry out the project as well as opportunities and plans for the Applicant’s professional development and growth
  • Letters of recommendation

Special consideration will be given to projects which:

  • are novel or involve a novel collaboration, i.e. not a continuation of an existing project.
  • are multidisciplinary, have meaningful involvement of knowledge users, or are otherwise committed to a collaborative approach to research, as applicable.
  • ethically and sensitively integrate consideration for diversity and traditionally underrepresented groups, including principles of SGBA+ (sex- and gender-based analysis plus), EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), and/or framework for respectful involvement of Indigenous Peoples, as applicable.
  • are committed to knowledge translation of research results and findings, via education, publication, clinical or policy implementation, commercialization, etc.

Reviewers will evaluate applications using a scoring system. Applications with scores falling within the fundable range will be discussed at the review committee meeting. The review committee and CAN will submit recommendations for funding to the CNS Program. Funding decisions will be based on the review committee evaluations and availability of funds for the competition. The CNS Program and CAN will not enter discussion on specific items in the review process or reasons for the rejection of applications. All decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

Applicants selected for funding will be notified in writing in Summer 2024 (date is tentative and subject to change) and at that time will be required to accept the terms and conditions of the award. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to ensure that CAN and the CNS Program are provided with current contact information and to notify of any changes to the contact information provided in the original application.

There will be no formal review or feedback for the Notice of Intent – you will be notified if there are significant changes requested. Once the NOI has been approved, you will receive an email with a link to the Full Application.

Award notifications will be distributed in Summer 2024 (date may be subject to change).

Successful applicants will receive an offer with their notification of decision from CAN. The offer must be accepted within ten (10) business days of receipt. A funding acceptance form will be provided with the notice of award and must be returned with supporting documentation to CAN by email, signed by both the successful applicant and their supervisor, within this timeframe. Any potential funding conditions or required clarifications and their related timelines will be outlined with the offer. Failure to comply with this requirement may lead to withdrawal of the offer.

Successful applicants, on acceptance of their offer, will be provided with funding of up to CAD $70,000 over a period of two years. Payment of funds is dependent on compliance with program requirements and deliverables. Supervisors are required to provide top-up support for successful Applicants of at least CAD $10,000 plus benefits. Funding may be used only as salary for the awarded Scholar and may not be used for benefits, WCB, or other non-salary expenses.

Onboarding of the successful applicant and any other fellowship, research, or employment requirements from the host institution will be the sole responsibility of the supervisor. 

Please ensure you have read the full Application Guidelines for any information you may need to complete your application.

If you are interested in applying to this program and require further information, please contact Campus Alberta Neuroscience at abneuro@ucalgary.ca with the subject line “CNS Program”.

Generously funded by:

The goal of The Hilary & Galen Weston Foundation is to contribute to charities whose bold ideas shape a better future for everyone. For more information, please visit hgwf.org

This program is made possible through the support of our partners:

Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN), established in 2012 with support from the Government of Alberta, is a province-wide neuroscience network connecting the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge to increase the impact of neuroscience and mental health research, education and translation, developing the province as an epicenter for neuroscience excellence. For more information, please visit albertaneuro.ca.

The HBI’s vision is “Healthy brains for better lives”.Their mission is to inspire discovery and apply knowledge towards innovative solutions for neurological and mental health disorders.This mission is guided by six core values: Excellence, collaboration, integrity, impact, creativity, and relevance. For more information, please visit hbi.ucalgary.ca

The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. They  are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts. For more information, please visit mcgill.ca/neuro

The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI)  is a provincially funded, not-for-profit organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. OBI works to establish Ontario as a world leader in brain research, commercialization and care. For more information, please visit braininstitute.ca

The CNS program is pleased to collaborate with the following Canadian centres of excellence in AI/ML as training partners: