Launch of Centre for Analytics

The team at the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) has opened the doors to the Centre for Analytics with the launch of two transformative, data-driven projects.

“Data connections made possible through the Centre for Analytics will empower neuroscientists and neurotechnology experts to develop new ways of diagnosing and caring for people with brain disorders,” Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director of OBI. “This means creating innovative tools for screening risk, even before you know you are at risk, as well as continuous monitoring and feedback to enable people to get and monitor the treatment that they need.”

Announced in 2023 with a five million dollar investment from the Government of Ontario, the Centre for Analytics (CfA) represents an important step in OBI’s commitment to translate the innovations that take place in the labs to directly benefit the lives of those living with brain disorders.

"The Ontario Brain Institute's strong line-up of research networks is making amazing progress that is going to make a real difference in the lives of people with Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy and other brain disorders," stated the Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “The new Centre for Analytics will harness the talented Ontario researchers and post-secondary graduates to develop a new generation of analytics and AI tools that will help patients and their families for generations to come."

Dr. Francis Jeanson, Head of the CfA, suggests that a multi-dimensional approach in neuroanalytics – training, innovation, and translation – will accelerate research discoveries, support the development of new treatments and technologies, and improve care for neurological conditions, concussion and brain injuries, and mental health.

“In Canada, and particularly here in Ontario, researchers – in partnership with patients – have made significant efforts to collect, de-identify and share health data to amplify neuroscience work across the world,” Dr. Jeanson noted. “However, we now find ourselves at a critical point where we need to build up our expertise in complex data analytics, as well as provide training for scientific labs and neurotechnology companies looking to grow and evolve.”

To support this pressing need for leadership in analytics, the CfA is focused on:

  • Upskilling the next generation of neuro data scientists by funding placements, creating training materials, and facilitating collaboration;
  • Accelerating access to high quality data and cloud computing at scale and creating a community of ethical analytics and artificial intelligence practice; and
  • Translating neuroscience data for the development and validation of new treatments and technologies while ensuring regulatory privacy compliance.

Two inaugural analytics initiatives are already leveraging CfA resources and expertise, including a new cloud platform that provides advanced computing capabilities and analytical tooling. The first project is led by Cove Neurosciences, who is working to explore data on OBI's Brain-CODE platform such as the neurodevelopmental disorders data from the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Network (POND) dataset to develop advanced models of brain connectivity using multi-modal imaging data of large cohorts. This work aims to help us better understand patient characteristics and improve opportunities for treatment and care.

The second initiative, headed by Western University’s Dr. Lyle Muller, is developing new, large-scale neural networks that emulate how neurons fire and communicate. Dr. Muller's team is creating these networks to understand how neural circuits generate epilepsy seizures and to help predict if precise timing of non-invasive stimulation can control seizure activity.