Canada Launches Open Science Platform Today

February 19, 2018
Trudeau Neuro

Today, 33 major academic and pharmaceutical research partners publicly agreed to share health data in an open science system to combat Alzheimer’s, dementia, mental illness, spinal cord injuries and other diseases that affect the brains of approximately 11 million people across Canada.

They did so because they now have secure computer resources within a network called the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP).

CONP was made possible through a $10 million dollar grant from the Canada Brain Research Fund. David Lametti, Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard-Verdun and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced the grant earlier today.

The project is designed to allow researchers to share, store, analyze, and disseminate data using 8,000-10,000 terabytes of storage space from Compute Canada. Partners have also agreed to create and participate in inter-disciplinary training through the new organization.

This step is the next crucial element in creating the vision announced on December 16, 2016 by Larry Tanenbaum in the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Tanenbaum, the Chairman and CEO of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited engineering construction company, donated $20 million dollars to create the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute at The Neuro.

The Open Science Institute operates under five philosophies designed to spur on innovation through unusual collaboration.

Partners agree to:

  • openly publish research results without restrictions,
  • share experimental data freely with international institutions,
  • refrain from obtaining patents,
  • share biological samples if supplies warrant it and patient confidentiality can be maintained, and
  • commercialize open source discoveries.

In addition to the Neuro at McGill, partners in todays announcement included: the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Western University, Brock University, University of Toronto, York University, Queen’s University, Concordia University, McGill University, Université de Montreal, Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval, and Dalhousie University.


Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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  • Sonja Susnjar says:

    Thanks, Tracey, this is great! Am very glad to see Mr. Lametti supporting science and open data in particular. Also that the Trudeau government has started to reverse some of Steven Harper’s slashing and burning with respect to science. Hope they reverse all the damage he did! It is imperative that we have more, not less, science with all the challenges facing us (do not dismantle some of the research stations in the Arctic, for example!).

    And then, even more importantly, the government should listen to the advice of its scientists! ( Scientists working for Fisheries and Oceans in the sixties and seventies warned the government of the day abut the risk of collapse of the cod fishery if fishing practices and quotas were not adjusted but were not listened to, and we all know how that turned out!)

    I’m particularly glad to see this type of collaboration in the medical field. Personally, I would like the federal government to actually carry out research to develop médications because the profit motive corrupts the work of the pharmaceutical companies. An episode of “The Current” CBC radio show last week had an academic scientist mentioning that big pharma is not interested in developing new antibiotics to counter the growing resistance of bacteria to the antibiotics we have because antibiotics are drugs that patients take for only a short time. According to her, they are much more interested in developing drugs that patients have to take for the rest of their lives, like statins.
    Presumably, our government would be carrying out research to find the most effective and inexpensive drugs to help Canadians with their health problems and not to make prfits for shareholders!

    • Tracey Arial says:

      Great points Sonja. What a shame that pharmaceutical companies don’t want to direct their research towards such an important goal, though I’m not sure that profits are what’s stopping them. Seems more like short-term versus long-term thinking.

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