Montréal leads the way in neuroscience breakthroughs

published on July 6, 2021
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Montréal has been a hub of neurological science for nearly a century. The Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital — known in Montréal simply as “The Neuro” — has contributed several important studies and breakthroughs. Some of these include the discovery of the first neurotransmitter, Dr. Brenda Milner’s pioneering studies in neuropsychology, and Dr. Wilder Penfield’s neurosurgical intervention for epilepsy (known as the Montréal Procedure).

Leaders in Learning

When it comes to education, Montréal is a leader with 36 neuroscience-related University research chairs in Québec. All four of the city’s world-class universities – McGill (ranked the 35th best institution in the world), Concordia University, Université du Québec à Montréal UQAM and Université de Montréal – offer programs in neuroscience studies. Furthermore, McGill’s The Brain @McGill is one of the world’s largest organizations focused on structural and functional brain imaging.

McGill’s Integrated Program in Neuroscience (IPN) is the largest graduate program in the Faculty of Medicine and one of the largest neuroscience graduate programs in North America. The Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives project has been designated as a World Center of Excellence focused on accelerating international transfer of information to improve brain health across the globe.

Université de Montréal is home to the Centre of Excellence in Neuromics (CENUM) which specializes in the development of neuroscience research. The CENUM is a network of more than 50 physicians and researchers from different institutions affiliated with the university, working to better understand diseases that affect the brain and the nervous system.

Artificial intelligence in neuroscience

As Montréal has the largest concentration of deep learning researchers in the world and an important neuroscience research community, the city provides an ideal research ecosystem for the development of interdisciplinary synergies between these two fields. This is the goal of UNIQUE (Unifying Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence in Quebec), a research centre based in Montréal that promotes bidirectional research between scientists in neuroscience and AI, and spearheads efforts to establish a high-impact Neuro-AI research discipline.

Every year, Montréal hosts the AI and Neuroscience conference (MAIN). The virtual 2020 edition had more than 2400 attendees.

Recent breakthroughs

May 2021 | A team of researchers from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and McGill’s Department of Biomedical Engineering found a solution to foreign body response in brain transplants using silicone and sugar.

March 2021 | A group of scientists led by Bratislav Misic, a researcher at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill University found associations between gene expression patterns and functional brain tasks such as memory, attention, and mood.

January 2020 | McGill University, The Neuro and Fuzionaire Diagnostics to Develop Radiopharmaceuticals for use in detection and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

December 2019 | A McGill study identified a new role of major genetic risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease, with added potential of dementia.

November 2019 | Concordia University’s Cristian Zaelzer-Perez won the Society for Neuroscience Science Educator Award for his project the Convergence Initiative, which aims to bring together the artistic and neuroscience communities.

November 2019 | Researchers at the Montréal’s Jewish General Hospital, the McGill University Health Centre, and the Hospital for Sick Children have identified the cellular origins of paediatric brain tumours.

Recent and upcoming events held in Montréal

Here is a small sampling of neuroscience-related events that have taken place (or will take place) in Montréal:

November 2018 | NeurIPS Annual Conference (10 000 participants)

July 2019 | 41st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (1175 participants)

May 2023 | Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience (700 participants expected)

June 2023 | Annual Conference of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (2000 participants expected)

October 2023 | World Congress of Neurology (8000 participants expected)


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