New Research Chair in Neuroinformatics
Expanding knowledge of the brain to new heights
Sherbrooke, le 29 novembre 2017 – While our knowledge about the brain is still in its infancy, neuroinformatics could rocket our understanding to heights completely out of our reach. Indeed, neuroinformatics—combining computer science, neuroscience and medicine—will make it possible to map brain connections. This quest will not only lead to major discoveries about the healthy brain, but it will yield spectacular progress in diagnosing brain tumors, concussions, autism, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease (amongst others).
Professor Pierre Cossette, President of the Université de Sherbrooke, underscored that "the Université de Sherbrooke is very proud of this new chair in neuroinformatics research. This chair will come under the leadership of research professor Maxime Descoteaux with the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Science and the Centre de recherche du CHUS. A rising star in research, he already has a number of discoveries in the field of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) to his credit, as attested to by his national and international prizes and awards. Moreover, the chair represents an exceptional partnership uniting two of the University's faculties and the Centre de recherche du CHUS, as well as our respective foundations."
There is only one noninvasive technique for mapping the brain and its connections: diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI). This clinical imaging technique nevertheless involves huge computational challenges in terms of mathematics and computational methods. "Our research therefore tackles every step of the imaging pipeline, from fast image acquisition of DWI in clinically-feasible time up to connectivity mapping of healthy and pathological brains," pointed out Pr Maxime Descoteaux, research professor and holder of the Research Chair in Neuroinformatics. "With my research team, I want to develop optimal brain mapping technology that can be routinely used in the clinic.”
In achieving this goal, Descoteaux can count on a multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists, neurologists, and a medical resident. The interdisciplinary aspect of research, a key component to the future of neuroinformatics, will provide means to respond to clinical needs as well as biomedical research. Descoteaux views this collaboration as being highly unique and valuable because it enables him to collaborate directly with the people using his technologies or who intend to use them to find solutions to very concrete health problems.
$1.7 Million to Better Treat Certain Brain Diseases
This research chair is made possible with the generous support of the foundations of the CHUS and the Université de Sherbrooke as part of the Promising Futures, Shared Passions campaign. It also receives support from the University's Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMSS). Over the next 5 years, the chair will receive $1,730,000 to carry out its research.
"We have invested a great deal of energy to collect the funds required to create this project under our Promising Futures, Shared Passions campaign," pointed out Luc R. Borduas, Chair of La Fondation de l’Université de Sherbrooke. "Professor Descoteaux's breakthroughs in neuroinformatics will make it possible to train students, invest in the next generation, and thereby contribute to the training of highly qualified personnel specialized in neuroinformatics required by industry and the research community. We are very grateful to all our donors."
"Medical imaging is the way of the future in early diagnosis, therapeutic management, and personalized medicine. Professor Descoteaux's research has already had a positive impact on what our physicians do and our treatments for patients, of whom about a hundred annually now benefit from the work of this chair. We are therefore proud to provide funding amounting to $500,000 for this research chair and, as a result, possibly give other specialists new eyes to see better and especially better treat disease," stated Charles Custeau, Vice Chair of the Fondation du CHUS' s Board of Directors.
Partners in the Hybridization of Informatics and Medicine
The Research Chair in Neuroinformatics fits into a veritable research niche at the Université de Sherbrooke. The chair meshes with a strategy of interdisciplinary collaboration within the Faculty of Science. It also fits in with one of the three pillars of excellence at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: medical imaging, which includes the Centre d’imagerie médicale de l’Université de Sherbrooke (CIMUS), the Centre d’excellence en neurosciences de l’Université de Sherbrooke (CENUS), and two Canada Research Chairs. The chair also connects with the Centre de recherche du CHUS, the Research Centre on Aging, and the Centre d’excellence de l’Université de Sherbrooke en recherche mère-enfant, since mapping the connectome will raise new multidisciplinary research issues. Lastly, Descoteaux collaborates with several Quebec universities and many international collaborators.
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Judith Lavallée, Media-Relations Officer
Communications Department | Université de Sherbrooke
819 821-8000, extension 65472 | medias@USherbrooke.ca