In September 2016, Western received the largest grant in the university’s history – a 7-year, $66 million investment from the Government of Canada through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). This grant, known as BrainsCAN, is an innovative model for cognitive neuroscience research.

Take a journey through the first three years of BrainsCAN.


Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF)

Created in 2014, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) supports Canadian postsecondary institutions to become global research leaders. CFREF is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The inaugural CFREF competition was split into two parts. The first competition awarded $350 million to five initiatives in 2015. The second competition, which included neuroscience initiatives at Western’s BrainsCAN and McGill’s HBHL, awarded a total of $900 million to 13 initiatives in 2016.


Western’s $66M BrainsCAN initiative is supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).