In an effort to enhance Canada’s research on neurological disorders, the federal government and Brain Canada have partnered to co-fund a $10.17 million grant on establishing the inaugural Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP). CONP is a platform that is designed to give Canadian researchers faster access to neuroscience research data, as well as the opportunity to share their research to other scholars in a prompt manner compared to traditional means.

On February 19, 2018, David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the minister of innovation, science, and economic development, announced the partnership between Health Canada and Brain Canada on the establishment of the CONP at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University.

The purpose of the CONP is to make the process of acquiring and distributing brain research data easier for Canadian researchers. This is because research on neurological disorders can produce a significant amount of data — they often incorporate data from brain imaging (positron-emission tomography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging), behavioural studies as well as genetics — all of which has multiple components to them. Synthesizing all of these data into one database is needed for future brain research because neurological disorders can be caused by multiple factors. It is important to combine data from all of these modalities to study how these disorders manifest in an individual and ultimately, discover a cure for these neurocognitive deficits.

“This project will enable researchers to effectively share, store and process data and maximize the potential of research that already exists [—] research that could lead to new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating neurological conditions,” stated Lametti in a press release.

The Canadian government invested $5.08 million into the project, with the remainder of the grant paid for by Brain Canada through its Canada Research Fund. Neurocognitive disorders include conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, schizophrenia, aphasia, stroke, and epilepsy.

“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadians with neurological conditions. The platform being created with this funding will be a central repository for innovative brain research. With access to such data, researchers will be better equipped to pursue medical breakthroughs that will improve the lives of Canadians living with brain diseases and disorders,” said the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of health in a press release.

The CONP is currently comprised of 15 different post-secondary schools, including Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, McGill University, University of Toronto, and many others.

Through the creation of the CONP, Canadian neuroscientists will be able to obtain data from reliable and diverse sources, making the process of conducting and storing brain research data easier. In addition, by being able to access the large volume of data stored within the CONP, researchers might be able to find patterns within these datasets that can potentially lead to the development of new diagnoses for treating neurological disorders.

Thus, the CONP can help researchers collect, capture, and analyze data from a large population more easily and accurately, leading to better treatments for patients who have an impairment in their cognitive abilities.

With files from Canadian Healthcare Technology.