BrainsCAN funding leads to NSERC grant


How does the brain keep memories distinct? World-renowned Western University researcher, Dr. Tim Bussey will examine this question with a new funding grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) – funding that would not have been possible without the support of BrainsCAN, Western’s cognitive neuroscience research initiative.

Over the past two years, BrainsCAN has funded high-impact research studies through innovative funding programs with the goal to transform the way brain diseases and disorders are understood, diagnosed and treated. 

The BrainsCAN Accelerator Internal Granting Program is purposefully designed to push the limits of cognitive neuroscience by funding high-risk/high-reward research programs that cannot be funded through traditional channels. By encouraging curiosity-driven discovery science, the program aims to address some of the grand challenges in brain health. It funds innovative research, while also giving researchers an opportunity to produce results to help them leverage additional funding from other sources.

Dr. Tim Bussey, a professor in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, used his Accelerator findings to support his recent NSERC research application. Prior to this grant application, Bussey’s Accelerator study examined certain brain cells called astrocytes to gain a better understanding of a memory process known as pattern separation.

“The BrainsCAN Accelerator Grant gave me the freedom to produce pilot data on pattern separation in the brain and create a case for a NSERC grant,” said Bussey.

His work resulted in one of Western’s largest NSERC funds for the fall intake round. In this new NSERC program, Bussey is expanding on his Accelerator research by aiming to understand how the brain uses pattern separation to keep memories distinct – a process that is often disrupted during brain diseases.

BrainsCAN programs give researchers the chance to collaborate with colleagues, test theories and complete discovery science in order to apply for additional funding. By focusing on high-risk/high-reward research programs, BrainsCAN supports a variety of impactful research studies at Western.

For more information about BrainsCAN funding program, please visit