Now more than ever, we must plan for the future

For a second year in a row, Brain Canada is joining forces with private foundations to award $100,000 each to 20 early-career researchers from across the country to fund game-changing ideas and push innovation forward. Backed by the Azrieli Foundation, the Arrell Family Foundation and the Alvin Segal Family Foundation, Brain Canada’s Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program is funding the boldest and brightest ideas at the most critical juncture of a researcher’s career – the beginning.

Brain Canada is a non-profit organization achieving its vision by increasing the scale and scope of funding to accelerate the pace of discovery by creating a collective commitment to brain research across the public, private and voluntary sectors and delivering transformative, original and outstanding research programs.

“By providing this early-career support, we are giving promising researchers the jump-start they need to explore daring, innovative and high-potential lines of research that could help us find solutions to diseases such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and more,” says Brain Canada President and CEO, Dr. Viviane Poupon. “It is an investment today that is sure to yield breakthrough discoveries for the challenges of tomorrow.”

Thanks to the generous support of donors behind the Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program, Brain Canada is kickstarting the next generation of Canadian brain scientists by funding radically ambitious new theories with significant potential benefits to society and the economy. Awardees will be using these funds to not only pursue research questions, but also to hire graduate students and give them the training and mentorship they need to grow, further establishing Canada’s pipeline of neuroscientists.

“Receiving this funding will really assist me in launching my independent research career and growing my team,” says Dr. Galen Wright, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics at the University of Manitoba and a 2020 Future Leader in Canadian Brain Research. “Our research should lead to a better understanding of how DNA repair processes are implicated in the neurodevelopmental disorder, Rett syndrome.”

This year, the 20 recipients are investigating an array of clinical, translational and basic science research projects to gain insight into a variety of brain disorders, diseases and brain function. From studying pediatric brain tumours, to the effects of isolation on our mental health, to the root of bipolar disorder, these rising stars are poised to strengthen the research landscape and improve the lives of all people in Canada.

“This project is maybe one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken,” says Benoit Laurent, assistant professor at Université de Sherbrooke and a 2020 Future Leader in Canadian Brain Research. “Advances in Science come from audacity and imagination. If we do not take risks, we do not have rewards.”   

Funding for the Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research Program has been made possible with the financial support of Health Canada, through the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative partnership between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada, and the Azrieli Foundation, the Arrell Family Foundation and the Alvin Segal Family Foundation.

To learn more about Brain Canada and the research it supports, visit

2020 Future Leaders in Canadian Brain Research

Brain Canada’s rigour in its scientific review process ensures projects are chosen based on excellence and innovation. For this competition, a total of 180 candidates from coast to coast to coast submitted letters of intent which were evaluated by a peer review panel. 57 researchers were subsequently invited to submit full, comprehensive grant applications, with the 20 grant recipients chosen after a second round of peer review.

Grant Recipients:
● Simon Chen, University of Ottawa
● Nader Ghasemlou, Queen’s University
● George Ibrahim, The Hospital for Sick Children
● Julia Kam, University of Calgary
● Shannon Kolind, University of British Columbia
● Jasmin Lalonde, University of Guelph
● Benoit Laurent, Université de Sherbrooke
● Yun Li, The Hospital for Sick Children
● Luka Milosevic, University Health Network
● Bratislav Misic, McGill University
● Sue-Ann Mok, University of Alberta
● Wilten Nicola, University of Calgary
● Vijay Ramaswamy, The Hospital for Sick Children
● Derya Sargin, University of Calgary
● Chantelle Sephton, Université Laval
● Greg Silasi, University of Ottawa
● Trevor Steve, University of Alberta
● Tamara Vanderwal, University of British Columbia
● Anne Wheeler, The Hospital for Sick Children
● Galen Wright, University of Manitoba