Montréal leads the way in neuroscience breakthroughs

published on December 5, 2017
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With the largest number of research centres in the country, Montréal is Canada’s research and education capital, and neuroscience is in the top tier of local expertise. Québec is home to more than 800 neuroscience professionals – with over 240 active in the Montréal area alone – and 39 companies related to neuroscience, positioning the city as an international leader for development and innovation in the field.

When it comes to education, Montréal is also a leader with 36 neuroscience-related University research chairs in Québec, not to mention home base for the world-renowned Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (AKA the Neuro). All four of the city’s world-class universities (McGill, Concordia, UQAM and Université de Montréal) offer programs in neuroscience studies, and McGill’s Brain@McGill is one of the world’s largest organizations focused on structural and functional brain imaging. Furthermore, McGill’s Healthy Brains for 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.


Montréal’s place at the forefront of neuroscience comes with a history of recent important developments first discovered here. A quick rundown of some of Montréal’s proudest neurological moments:

The city even has a neurological operation named after it: Wilder Penfield’s revolutionary technique for Epilepsy neurosurgery became known as the “Montréal procedure.”


February 2019 | The Neuro receives Canada’s first 7T MRI Scanner: Capable of full-body scans, the 7-Tesla will allow McGill students to see the human nervous system in close-up detail down to minute scales of mere tenths of a millimetre.

December 2017 | A non-invasive method to detect Alzheimer’s disease: McGill researchers have created a method of detecting changes in biomarkers at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

October 2017 | Transformative donation of $16 million establishes new autism research centre at the Montréal Neurological Institute: The Neuro becomes the first institute in Canada to develop a comprehensive research program for autism.

August 2017 | The Neuro forms a partnership to open research publishing platform with F1000 to create MNI Open Research: The MNI Open Research publishing platform will speed the international progress of neuroscience discovery.

July 2017 | From skin cells to brain cells: McGill researchers discovered a method for transformating patients’ skin cells into a type of brain cell critical for understanding and treating neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

July 2017 | Researchers develop method that could one day be used in brain trama lawsuits: McGill creates a diagnostic signature using artificial intelligence to detect brain trama years after it has occurred.

July 2017 | The Neuro to create World’s first ALS Phase 1 clinical trial unit: A $1.5M donation will help create the world’s first Phase 1 clinical trial unit dedicated to developing drugs for all forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

June 2017 | An infallible hand-held probe to aid cancer surgery: Montréal-based researchers have invented an intraoperative probe that reliably detects multiple types of tumour cells.

May 2017 | Microglia, critical to Alzheimer’s research, can now be produced artificially: Using human skin cells, an international team including researches from the Neuro and Hospital of McGill University has created a method to generate microglia.

April 2017 | Neuro researchers receive grants from Canada Brain Research Fund: Sylvain Baillet and Alan Evans of the Neuro were both awarded funds to further their groundbreaking research in neurology, autism and related conditions.

March 2017 | “Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives” launches new graduate student and postdoctoral fellowships program: McGill’s HBHL was awarded $84M over seven years under the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

March 2017 | Dr. Computer is transforming neuroscience: Researchers from the Neuro’s McConnell Brain Imaging Centre (BIC) used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict the development of autism in babies.

February 2017 | MNI scientist receives $1.5M grant for Parkinson’s/ALS research: CQDM and Brain Canada joined forces in the funding of two new research products to address unmet needs in brain research.

January 2017 | New MS drug hailed a breakthrough in human trial: Doctors at the Neuro discover hopeful results in testing a new drug to treat multiple sclerosis – which could be available in Canada within the year.

January 2017 | MNI researchers create data model to isolate causes of Alzheimer’s disease: A study established an order of disease progress and identified one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease development.

December 2016 | Breakthrough in MS treatment: A drug called ocrelizumab has been shown to reduce new attacks in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

October 2016 | Dr. Guy Rouleau receives national award for significant contributions to world of science: Director of the Neuro and McGill University Health Centre was awarded the 2016 Prix de l’oeuvre scientifique by the Médecins francophones du Canada.

September 2016 | McGill wins $84M grant for neuroscience program: Reaffirmed as one of the top neuroscience research centres in the world, the Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives program received $84M over the next seven years.

July 2016 | “Big Data” study discovers earliest sign of Alzheimer’s development: Research underlines importance of computational power in future neurological breakthrough.

June 2016 | Montréal’s Neuro’s 3D brain mapping research gets technological boost: The Neuro is poised to advance 3D brain-mapping research down to the cellular level, raising hopes for treatments into neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

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