Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize

Maximizing Innovation in Neuroscience Discovery

Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize 2022 Finalists

Dr. Garnette Sutherland, creator of the CellARM

CellARM: A MicroRobotic System for Data-driven Precision Surgery

Designed by Dr. Garnette Sutherland, the CellARM is a multi-purpose dextrous arm designed for robot-assisted brain/spine surgery, capable of manipulating human tissue at a microscopic level not currently possible for a human surgeon alone. CellARM is equipped with an endoscopic camera and sensors that supply extensive data on all the arm’s movements during a procedure.

Dr. Peter Stys, Principal investigator

Non-immune Role of B cells in the Pathogenesis of Multiple Sclerosis

Dr. Peter Stys proposes to study human B cells from MS patients as well as the role of the Epstein-Barr virus in MS. He aims to determine the role of this virus in the putative transformation of B cells into long-lived toxin-producing factories that take up residence in the central nervous system, and chronically fuel the degenerative process of MS.

Dr. Minh Dang Nguyen, Principal Investigator

Gut Microbiome & the Brain Lymphatic System in Neurodegenerative Disorders

This project led by Dr. Minh Dang Nguyen will explore how an imbalance in the gut microbiome affects the brain’s lymphatic network leading to neurodegenerative disorders. It will determine whether having a normal gut flora enhances the functionality of the lymphatic system at clearing toxic molecules in the brain thereby reducing neurodegeneration.

What is the Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize?

The Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize (Maximizing Innovation in Neuroscience Discovery) was created through a generous $10M philanthropic commitment from Mr. Sanders Lee to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI). Mr. Lee, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Hopewell® Group of Companies is a visionary leader who embraces the idea of technology and science for the betterment of society.

This prize will serve as a catalyst to launch innovative, bold, high-impact research projects in brain and mental health at the University of Calgary. The Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize – unique in Canada – offers up to $1 million per year for the next ten years to fund research projects that are “ahead of the curve." These projects would be at a critical crossroads where an injection of funding has the potential to transform the project into significant community impact.

$10 million to create Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize

Calgarians are known for making big, bold things happen. Sanders Lee is one of them. A record-breaking new prize in brain and mental health research will bring new ideas to the fore – sparking innovation through cutting edge research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI).

“I've always been a supporter of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and Dr. David Park approached me with what he called a bold idea,” says Lee. “I think at the end of the day, I’m a risk taker, and I loved the idea.”

What is high-impact research?

What does it mean to say high-impact? Research that is bold and new, and has potential to positively affect many people not just in Canada, but around the globe.

Below are highlighted some examples of high-impact research work being conducted by HBI and our partners. 

Gut-Brain Connection

Dr. Val Taylor narrates her work in exploring the connection between the gut and the brain. Her work shows that when fecal bacteria from a person living with depression, is implanted in a germ-free mouse, the mouse develops depressive symptoms. She is exploring the use of "good" bacteria transplants for the treatment of depression.

Gout Drug & Addiction

Dr. Tuan Trang narrates a summary of his research work regarding Probenecid for use in opioid addiction. Probenecid is a drug commonly used to treat gout, and now shows promise in addressing opioid withdrawal symptoms for those living with addiction. Dr. Trang is continuing to explore the possibilities of Probenecid in his ongoing research studies and trials.

Nerinetide for Stroke

Dr. Michael Hill narrates a summary of his work in stroke research to find new ways to mitigate death of brain tissue. During a stroke, blood flow stops or is limited in regions of the brain, resulting in the death of brain tissues. Dr. Hill is exploring the use of the drug nerinetide to act as a protective mechanism for brain tissue in stroke. Trials have resulted in a 7.5% reduction in death so far.


Innovation Prize Jury

Dr Alon Chen

Dr Alon Chen

President of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Head of the Max Planck Society - Weizmann Institute of Science Laboratory for Experimental Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurogenetics and adjunct Professor at the Medical School of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Dr Beth Stevens

Dr Beth Stevens

Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Institute Member of the Broad Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and member of the National Academy of Medicine

Dr Nelson Spruston

Dr Nelson Spruston

Senior Director of Scientific Programs and Laboratory Head at the Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute