The Neuro News is a monthly electronic newsletter highlighting activities at
the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. If you have any comments,
please send them to
Health Science Research and the Conservative Budget
The Neuro received some stunning, welcome news in March with the
publication of the new federal budget. In that document, the Neuro, along
with six other Institutes, is recognized as a Centre of Excellence in
Commercialization and Research, and will receive $15 million. This budget
has passed the House so we can make plans to use these funds. Our first
goal is to top-up funding for those investigators whose work will not be
fully supported by the CIHR because of budget constraints. In addition, we
have a host of new and innovative programs that are brimming with promise
and are ready to bring to fruition – NeuroEngineering, Neurological
Palliative Care, Experimental Therapeutics for Neurological Diseases, and
In my microcosmic world, what is important is that this is the first time
in the Neuro’s seventy-three year history that we have been so singled out
and recognized nationally as an incubator of outstanding science and
medicine, and a source of Canadian pride.
But in a much larger sense, the Conservatives have done something
interesting with this budget. I have found that the representatives of this
government are remarkably good listeners. They did not reject out-of-hand
the universal plea from Canada’s scientists to augment the CIHR budget;
instead, they provided this agency, so vitally important to all of our
scientific activities a modest supplement ($37 million) – more than double
the 2006 - 2007 increase, although far short of the $100 million requested
to fund health research across Canada. At the same time, as the Cabinet
Ministers toured science facilities around the country, they identified
Canadian institutions that they felt needed some direct support, and I am
glad that the Neuro was seen to be one of these. In aggregate, this
government will be putting substantial funds into science in 2007, albeit
in a “targeted,” somewhat cautious way.
So the budget reflects in its undercurrent the tensions that are inherent
in grappling with the uncertainties of “curiosity-driven,” as opposed to
more predictable “applied” or “outcome-driven” research. This government
allocated new funds to both, but with a clear predilection for research
that may eventually generate a commercializable product. Understandable now
with a new government, but scientists and government are just beginning a
long dialogue, and we must address how we proportionalize the investment.
Those of us who have been working scientists for many decades know that it
is the curiosity-driven science that always yields the truly spectacular
practical discoveries – antibiotics, x-rays, radio, television, lasers of
all sorts, recombinant DNA technologies that are the underpinnings of the
biotechnology industry, magnetic resonance imaging technologies, and the
But for us, a great start - one that holds much promise for augmenting the
relationship in the future between the federal government and the
scientific establishment. What we need now is to create a
federally-empowered working group of scientists, clinicians and public
health policy makers that will generate a thoughtful, long-range agenda for
health research – just health research – in this country. The
recommendations of such a commission could provide an international model
for how health research should be conducted and funded in all prosperous
countries that recognize the value of innovative and creative medical
science. The entire world is badly in need in of guidance on this…and
Canada under Conservative leadership could point the way.
Please send any comments about the Director's Corner to
Recent News & Events
MNI welcomes David Culver, new Board member
David Culver, a well-known and highly respected member of the Canadian
business community, will join the MNI’s Advisory Board. Mr. Culver,
formerly Chairman and CEO of Alcan Aluminium Ltd., recently completed his
mandate as Chairman of the Board of the McGill University Health Centre.
Born in Winnipeg, Mr. Culver received a Bachelor of Science from McGill and
MBA from Harvard University. He was Chairman of the Canadian Council of
Chief Executives, served on the Board of Directors of American Express
Company, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., American Cyanamid Company and The
Seagram Company, Ltd. and many other companies, and on the International
Council of J.P. Morgan & Co. More recently, Culver co-founded the
private equity firm CAI.
Mr. Culver is a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order
of Québec, and was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Grand Cordon,
of Japan. He is also a Laureate of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
Eva Andermann Honoured
Eva Andermann will receive the Ambassador for Epilepsy Award from the
International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau
for Epilepsy (IBE) at the annual summer meeting in Singapore. This award
recognizes Eva’s outstanding contributions to activities advancing the
cause of epilepsy worldwide. ILAE is the preeminent association of
physicians and health professionals working to reduce the impact of
epilepsy. IBE works with ILAE on the medical and non-medical issues of
Please see the MNI calendar for the schedule of
lectures and events.
Penfield lecture, April 26 by Scott Johnson of the Myelin
Repair Foundation On April 26, Scott Johnson, founder of the Myelin Repair
Foundation (MRF) will deliver the Penfield lecture. Named by Scientific
American as one of the top 50 leaders in business, science and policy in
2006, Johnson founded the MRF to blend the best practices in business with
those in scientific discovery. By establishing a new model for research,
Johnson planned to accelerate the rate of discovery leading to treatments
for multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological disease he has had for more
than 30 years. To this end, MRF chose five outstanding scientists in North
America to participate in a unique collaboration and create a virtual,
cross-continental research group. MNI Director Dave Colman contributes to
this effort by studying myelin, a critically important covering on nerve
fibres that is damaged by MS.
Johnson’s talk, Breaking Down Barriers to Advance Health and
Medicine, will be at 4:30 pm on April 26 in the Jeanne Timmins
Amphitheatre. Everyone is invited to hear about his innovative approach to
finding treatments through research, and to attend the reception following
How can we improve health within chronic illness? Workshop
for Health Care Professionals and Clinical Leaders On April 25, the MUHC
will host a workshop for healthcare professionals on the benefits of
self-management for patients with chronic health conditions. The session
will be conducted by Patrick McGowan, one of Canada’s leading experts on
patient self-management and Director of the Centre on Aging, University of
Victoria. For more information, please contact Shirley Cera at (514)
398-1965 or Shirley Cera.
Support for Brain Tumour Research
On May 9, the third annual English Montreal School Board Brain Waves Gala
featuring the talents of students from 6 Montreal high schools will be held
at the Leonardo Da Vinci Center, 8350 Lacordaire Blvd, St. Leonard.
Proceeds will support brain tumour research at the Neuro. For more
information call Vince Lacroce at 514-483-7200 ext. 5365.
Congratulations to …
Alain Beaudet, FRSQ President and CEO, and former MNI
Professor, who was named co-chair of the National Alliance of Provincial
Health Research Organizations. This alliance of nine provincial health
research funding agencies, created in 2003, promotes dialogue and
partnerships to foster health research.
Tony Hakim , former MNI professor, who received the Thomas
Willis Award from the American Stroke Association for outstanding lifetime
achievement in research. Tony, now at the Ottawa Hospital and Ottawa Health
Research Institute, is president of the Canadian Stroke Network and active
in stroke prevention.
Line Jacques , Director of the Neurosurgical Training
Program, for her leadership in guiding the neurosurgical residents who all
passed different levels of the neurosurgical board exams this year.
Diane Lowden , who was awarded the Eureka! Fellow in
Nursing Research. Diane, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Multiple Sclerosis at
the Neuro and President of the International Organization of Multiple
Sclerosis Nurses, will focus on patients' decision making about treatment
for multiple sclerosis. This fellowship is funded by Richard and Satoko
Ingram of the Newton Foundation, and the Foundations of the Montreal
General, Royal Victoria and Montreal Children’s Hospitals.
Thanks to …
Ken Hastings for organizing the CIHR postcard campaign to
seek increased funding for health research. McGill shipped more than 4000
postcards to federal government officials with this important message.
Rosanne Aleong and Penelope Kostopoulos
who organized the Brain Awareness Open House for elementary and high school
students, and to their colleagues who demonstrated lab experiments for
these visitors. The students had fun with a lunchtime quiz that included
electronic voting set up by Neuro Media Services.
Director - David R. Colman, PhD
Senior Management - Mark Angle, MD; Tom Gevas; Marilyn Kaplow; Elizabeth
Kofron, PhD; Patricia O'Connor; John Robson, PhD; Catherine Rowe
MNI Bulletin Editors: Elizabeth Kofron, PhD & Sandra McPherson,
Please send any items for the MNI Bulletin to
Sandra McPherson or