BrainsCAN celebrates two years of impact


Two years ago, Western University received the largest research grant in its history. The 7-year, $66 million investment from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) was awarded to BrainsCAN, Western’s neuroscience research initiative, to answer one of the biggest questions in modern science – how do we maintain a healthy brain throughout our lifetime and reduce the burden of brain disorders? 

Over the past two years, BrainsCAN has worked with a large group of multi-disciplinary researchers who are studying cognition. These researchers are working to transform the way neurodegenerative conditions – such as dementia, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and acquired brain injury – are understood, diagnosed and treated.

BrainsCAN includes:

  • Five collaborative research cores
  • State-of-the-art facilities and resources
  • Talent recruitment and training programs
  • Funding for strategic high-impact projects
  • Project, research and impact summaries
  • Partnership with McGill’s Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative
  • Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) goals

BrainsCAN's high-impact research is well underway and it's making a difference. 

With only two years into operation, BrainsCAN has already supported 325 research outputs, including 102 publications, 175 knowledge dissemination activities and 48 external funding applications. 

Results from BrainsCAN studies are making headlines. Recently released reports ruled out a major potential treatment target for Alzheimer's disease drugs, and have shown that aging has an effect on how the brain processes sound

BrainsCAN is connecting with the community. The initiative has worked with a local London artist affected by a traumatic brain injury, and has connected young women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with role models working in neuroscience research.

BrainsCAN is also recruiting and training the next generation of neuroscientists through its Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. These early-career neuroscientists are some of the best in the world, and their innovative research will continue to make an impact as they expand their research findings at Western.

As BrainsCAN prepares for the next five years of high-impact/high-reward neuroscience research, it will continue to support researchers through its innovative funding programs, core infrastructure and administrative research support.

BrainsCAN by the numbers:

  • 489 BrainsCAN-engaged researchers completing over 135 unique research projects focusing on brain disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussions and other neurodegenerative conditions.
  • $2.2 million in funding distributed through the Accelerator Internal Granting Program.
  • Funding distributed across Western University through 4 faculties and 12 departments.
  • 15 of the most promising early career neuroscientists recruited as BrainsCAN postdoctoral fellows.
  • 29 transformational projects funded to date.