Since opening its doors in 2014, the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH) has been home to ground-breaking scientific research which continues to advance understanding of the brain. In recent months, the DMCBH like many research institutions around the world, has faced an unexpected challenge, with COVID-19 sweeping the globe and forcing a curtailment of on-campus research.
Despite this drastic change, what we saw amazed us. Staff, faculty and trainees came together and found creative ways of carrying out essential research and moving programs online. Many of our team members quickly adjusted their focus and continue to lead the charge on exciting COVID-19 research.
This pandemic has reinforced the importance of collaboration. In the years to come, we will continue to focus on promoting interdisciplinary connections within UBC, across Canada and globally, and between other centres and universities, as a way of fostering collaboration and expanding research. We plan to build on the Centre’s impressive legacy by encouraging creativity and innovation, as well as shifting towards an open data platform to make science more accessible. Education will be a major part of our investment, both in terms of public outreach and in supporting research training at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels.
In order to achieve these goals, we have developed four working groups each aimed at finding effective ways of promoting collaboration, translating knowledge and connecting with the community in order to advance neuroscience research. Research support will also be provided through seed funding, trainee awards and grant facilitation. This process has already launched with the DMCBH inaugural grants competition for Kickstart awards and Alzheimer disease awards. Both have served as effective catalysts to initiate new interdisciplinary collaborations between foundational and clinical scientists, as well as between neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists and social scientists. We look forward to seeing the results of these new partnerships.
The Centre is uniquely situated as both a clinical facility and a research hub and is home to many state-of-the-art facilities which drive innovation, collaboration and advancement of neuroscience. This includes the NeuroImaging and NeuroComputation Centre, which supports several advanced light microscopy and imaging systems and creates interdisciplinary links between researchers in neuroscience, physics, engineering, math and computer science. The recently opened Charles Fipke Integrated Neuroimaging Suite has galvanized human brain imaging research across the UBC campus and hospital sites. The DMCBH will also soon house the Preclinical Discovery Centre, which will serve as a platform for testing new therapies before advancing to human clinical trials.
Community outreach is an important pillar of the DMCBH, and a strength of our researchers is their dedication to looking beyond traditional approaches to treatment and finding ways of connecting with the community. One such example is the BC Brain Wellness Program, spearheaded by Dr. Silke Cresswell and Dr. Jack Taunton, which promotes healthy aging by providing lifestyle approaches to complement medical treatment in the DMCBH clinics. Classes ranging from art to yoga to improv are offered to the general public both online and in person, with hundreds of participants from across the province benefiting from the program. It is initiatives like these that we are proud to support and make the DMCBH so unique.
We continue to be amazed by the creativity and collaborative spirit of DMCBH faculty, staff and trainees, all of whom dedicate so much time and effort in advancing the field of neuroscience. We are honoured to lead this team and are incredibly excited to see what we can collectively achieve over the next four years together.
Lynn Raymond, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Director, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health
Shernaz Bamji, PhD
Associate Director, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health