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Message from the Director: February 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the February edition of Brainworks. This month I am pleased to once again have the opportunity to highlight a recent publication by one of our members – this time in the journal PNAS. As you can read more about in the story here, Shalina Ousman, PhD and PhD student Erin-Mai Lim identified how the protein alphaB-crystallin aids remyelination of damaged peripheral axons and recovery of function in rodents. New therapies are desperately needed for the millions of people suffering from peripheral nerve injury and I am proud to see this promising first step come from the HBI.

In other good news, today the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced more than $1.3 million in funding to the University through the Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) awards. Among the recipients is Dr. Paul Arnold, Director of The Mathison Centre, who will use the funds to establish a DNA biobank to identify and test biomarkers in children and adolescents that may predict early risk and treatment outcomes. You can read more about Dr. Arnold and the JELF announcement here.

It is a great privilege to share success stories like these with you every month through Brainworks, our internal newsletter. Over the past few months, the Executive Committee has been working on a strategy to further enhance communications and engagement within our membership and I’m pleased that the Members Engagement Strategy has now been approved. You will start to see the tactics roll out over the next year – including increased institute-departmental communications, better engagement of young investigators and increased direct-to-members communications. You can read the full strategy online here. I look forward to seeing the benefits of these additional opportunities for our members to be even more engaged with the institute. 

I am also excited to let you know that we will soon welcome our newest HBI member, neuroscientist Jonathan Epp, PhD who will join the institute in April. Thank you to the Search and Selection Committee for their efforts in this important recruitment. Jonathan is joining us from SickKids, Toronto and brings to us his expertise in hippocampal neurogenesis and behaviour, as well as light sheet microscopy. Jonathan and his wife Derya also welcomed their first child last week – on behalf of the HBI I would like to congratulate Jonathan and Derya and welcome them to the HBI family.

We have a number of additional recruitments that are ongoing and I hope to share more information about those positions soon. I would like to thank Deputy Director Keith Sharkey, as well as our members and partner departments and institutes that are involved with these key recruitments. It is indeed an exciting time of growth and renewal for the institute.

Looking forward, we’ve got a busy spring coming up, starting with the 10th Annual Calgary Brain Bee on March 18, our first Think Big event of the year on March 24, the HBI-Melbourne Epilepsy Symposium on May 1-2 and our annual Research Day on May 19. Be sure to mark your calendar and keep an eye on the newsletter and the events page on the HBI website for the most up-to-date information on these and other HBI and partner events.