Message from the Director

Five years ago, we opened the doors to the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and began a new era in brain research and care. Since 2014, our researchers have worked across disciplines to conduct game-changing clinical trials, to find evidence in the body of changes in the brain, and to find new solutions to longstanding research questions. Our civilization is in a period of remarkable growth in understanding the brain, and the research underway at this centre is essential to that growth.

With five years behind us, we are beginning to see a shift in how advances in neuroscience will impact society. Discoveries in genetics, imaging, proteomics, and epidemiology are coming together to provide a profound understanding of brain function, structure, and connectivity. These discoveries, many from neuroscientists and clinician-scientists based at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, offer unprecedented insights into how brain disruption is caused in neurological and psychiatric diseases and provide hope for innovative therapies in the future. Fueled by these advances and the tremendous societal need for new treatments, the field of brain research is attracting interest from both scientists and the public alike.

The Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health integrates patient care with fundamental neuroscience research and research in psychiatry, psychology, neurology and rehabilitation, all under one roof. Looking beyond traditional approaches, our researchers have initiated several programs in healthy aging, united under the banner of a trailblazing Brain Wellness Project, an effort to establish clinically relevant lifestyle approaches to complement medical treatment in the clinics at DMCBH. Just as we have endeavored to facilitate a “water cooler effect” in bringing diverse researchers together, we have also sought ways to engage and empower our patient community and to connect them with the people conducting the research that will affect them in their treatment or as they age.

The future is incredibly bright. In February 2019, we opened the Charles E. Fipke Integrated Neuroimaging Suite. Home to the only PET/MRI designated for brain-related research and the only GE PET/MRI in Canada, this new facility will accelerate clinical trial discoveries, improve research participant experiences, create unmatched learning experiences for students, and empower faculty to design more robust research studies. The imaging suite represents a new era of discovery in the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. The unification of all brain imaging and next-generation technology in a single location will help advance knowledge of how the human brain functions in disease and health and ensure that the centre remains at the forefront of brain research.

A milestone anniversary is an occasion for celebration and also to consider what the future holds. The centre continues to expand the breadth of expertise within our brain health community by attracting outstanding new scientists—both rising stars and global leaders in their field of inquiry. Dr. Annie Vogel Ciernia will join UBC this summer to investigate genetics and the mechanisms of brain plasticity in neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Mark Cembrowski joined UBC earlier this year, adding a valuable perspective on Alzheimer’s disease through his exploration of how the brain forms, stores and retrieves memories. Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, Gobind Khorana Canada Excellence Research Chair in Precision Cancer Drug Design, joined UBC last fall, bringing his expertise in cryo-electron microscopy to accelerate drug discovery and realize transformative discoveries in neuroscience and other areas. Drs. Ciernia, Cembroski and Subramaniam represent the new wave of talented, ambitious, and collaborative scientists at the forefront of brain health innovation in the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.

Five years ago, we could only imagine the possibilities of a centre built on a vision of collaboration and community. Every single day we are surprised and moved by the passion of our people—from the researchers and trainees working tirelessly in the clinics and labs, to the staff who go above and beyond in service of the centre’s mission and values. I am tremendously proud of our collective accomplishment.

A. Jon Stoessl, CM, MD, FRCPC, FAAN, FCAHS

Director, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health