Published on September 7th, 2017 | from CAMH
Beyond the Moon
By Dr. Catherine Zahn, President & CEO of CAMH
The human brain is the most complex creation in the universe. It contains about 100 billion neurons with trillions of connections between them. Our understanding of the brain – the way that it functions normally and how injuries and illnesses affect it – is nascent and incomplete. One third of Canadians will suffer some form of brain dysfunction during their lifetimes. That’s why advocating for funding to address the “science gap” is so important to CAMH. In a world where we understand brain development, the role of genetics and epigenetics, response to all types of trauma, regeneration, and degeneration, we will know how to prevent, treat and cure many of these conditions, including mental disorders.
During my tenure at CAMH as President and CEO, I have called for a dedicated and sustained focus on brain research, especially as it relates to mental illness. I have asked all levels of government, partners in the mental health care sector, and civil society to commit to advancing discovery that will transform the lives of people who live with mental illness. Our collective contribution to research needs to match the burden of illness and the societal impact of brain disorders. Every discovery is a cause to be hopeful – hopeful that we will soon see options for prevention, treatment and cure. Some are calling for a “moonshot” for mental health in Canada – and I couldn’t agree more.
Today CAMH is launching our newest contribution to discovery in an increasingly important area of brain research – neuroinformatics. Neuroinformatics is a field of research that capitalizes on the wealth of data we have available from sources such as imaging, genetics and demographic information. Using the high performance computational power we have available to us, scientists can organize, examine and integrate enormous amounts of detailed data about the brain in health and in illness. They can then analyze it and model solutions to clinical problems.
Thanks to a generous gift from the Krembil Family, the new Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics at CAMH opening today will enable our scientists to harness the power of high performance computing and change the trajectory of mental health research at CAMH and in Canada. The gift has already supported the recruitment of Dr. Sean Hill as the inaugural Director of the new Centre. Dr. Hill was the Director of the Laboratory for the Neural Basis of Brain States at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and led the Neuroinformatics Division at Campus Biotech – an initiative dedicated to biotechnology and life sciences research in Geneva.
I’m deeply grateful for the longtime support and friendship of the Krembil Family. Their visionary generosity and confidence in CAMH has inspired all of us to strive for more.
For CAMH, the moon isn’t far enough. We’re aiming for Mars.
Read the News Release: CAMH announces opening of Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics