Conference & Meetings World Supplements Canada Supplement - Page 12

Montréal Montréal: city of neuroscience M ontréal is famous for its Old World architecture, beautiful parks and, more recently, hipster cafés and shops, but it has also good claims to be the education and research capital of Canada and ranks first in Canada for financial investment in university research. Montréal is home to the largest number of research centres in the country, with neuroscience being an area of local expertise. It has been said that Montréal is one of the world’s most active nerve centres in the scientific study of the human nervous system. The city’s universities offer top programmes in neuroscience and behaviour studies, with degrees available at McGill University, Université de Montréal, Concordia, and NeuroQAM at the Université du Québec à Montréal. At McGill University international students account for a third of enrolments and the university is home to the McGill Research Centre for Studies in Aging, The Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, and CRBLM: The Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music. The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill – known across the globe as the Neuro – is a world leader in advanced patient care and brain research. The Neuro’s impact on neuroscience has included: Dr. Penfield’s revolutionary Montreal Procedure in the treatment of epilepsy, and being the first to 12 CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD map primary somatosensory cotex (the Penfield Homonculus). The Neuro has seen pioneering development of the field of neuropsychology and development of neuroimaging technologies including CAT and MRI. It is also a repository of brain imaging, samples of neurological disorders from centre patients, and other genetic and clinical data. The Douglas Mental Health University Institute hosts over 300 international researchers and postdoctoral students, while The Brain@McGill is one of the world’s largest organisations focused on structural and functional brain imaging. The Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health enables the application of a big-data, transdisciplinary approach to brain research. There are 240 neuroscience professionals active in Montréal and the wider province is home to 39 companies related to neurosciences involved in research, medical, and pharmaceutical industries. Breakthroughs in recent years have included measuring the brain to diagnose psychiatric or neurological diseases at Université Laval and the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec, while a study of Big Data helped discover the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s development. Ludmer researchers Dr Alan Evans and and post-doctoral fellow Yasser Iturria Medina found that, contrary to previous understanding, the first physiological sign of Alzheimer’s disease is a decrease in blood flow in the brain. Montréal-based researchers also developed a hand-held probe to aid cancer surgery. The intraoperative probe reliably detects multiple types of tumour cells. And, earlier this year, the Neuro received 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. Montréal researchers have also opened a new path of discovery in Parkinson’s disease. Scientists led by Dr Michel Desjardins from the University of Montreal and Dr Heidi McBride from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (MNI) at McGill University discovered that two genes associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are key regulators of the immune system, providing direct evidence linking Parkinson’s to autoimmune disease. When it comes to education, Montréal is also a leader with 36 neuroscience-related University research chairs in Québec. While pharmaceutical companies working in the field include: BELLUS Health, Osta Biotechnologies, New World Laboratories and Nymox Pharmaceutical. Key Montréal ‘Neuro’ moments: • The Neuro is the first research