Vision: The Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics & Mental Health, based on the promising potentials of big-data research, envisages a future where mental illnesses, cognitive disorders, and learning disabilities are significantly reduced through preventive strategies and their diagnoses, based on biological metrics, lead to more effective, individually-tailored treatment approaches.
Diagnosing and classifying mental disorders –from schizophrenia to anxiety to attention deficit– remains a subjective endeavour measured against checklists of physical symptoms. There are no blood or saliva tests to confirm a depression or bi-polar diagnosis nor tell us which child is at risk of developing a mental illness. Not yet, but today’s ‘big data’ revolution combined with new tools and research in neuroinformatics, genetics, epigenetics and neuroimaging hold the potential to unlock this information and, ultimately, improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Initiated in 2013, the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics & Mental Health is an innovative collaboration between three cutting-edge research institutions: the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (Douglas) Research Centre, the Jewish General Hospital’s (JGH) Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI), and McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI). Leveraging over 20 years of research, neuroinformatics expertise and infrastructure, and international collaborations, the Ludmer Centre is uniquely poised to become a world leader in big-data analysis for brain and mental-health research.
Mission: To establish the Ludmer Centre as a global centre of excellence and incubator for neuroinformatics, genetics and epigenetics (big data) research and training, thereby, increasing multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary big-data mental-health research to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders: mental illnesses, cognitive disorders, and learning disabilities.
Our Scientific Directors bring together world-renown research teams and their cutting-edge laboratories:
- Dr Michael Meaney (Douglas Research Centre) leads the epigenetics and mental health component of the Ludmer Centre. He is a world authority on epigenetics and mental health who ranks among the world’s most cited scientists. His collaborations provide access to longitudinal birth cohort studies globally. Visit Dr Meaney’s Lab. Watch the video created by the Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize about his research.
- Dr Alan Evans (MNI) leads the neuroinformatics component of the Ludmer Centre: the McGill Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (MCIN). A world authority on brain mapping and imaging technologies, he is a leader in the development of cutting-edge neuroinformatic tools that support the application of a big-data approach to research projects worldwide. He ranked among the top 1% of cited researchers in neuroscience for 2014 and 2015. Visit the MCIN website.
- Dr Celia Greenwood (JGH/LDI) leads the statistical genetics and analysis component of the Ludmer Centre. She is a senior statistician who has made significant contributions in genetics, genomics, and genetic epidemiology. Her work provides access to genetic datasets as well as the analytical capacity to develop the algorithms that underpin a big-data approach to mental health research. Visit the Statistical Genetics Team website.
We believe that the adoption and application of a big-data approach to current research will revolutionize the understanding, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses.
Our goal is to identify the sets of genetic factors that work together to carry out essential cognitive processes, to understand how these are impacted by epigenetics and, ultimately, how they find expression in mental disorders across the human lifespan, even into old age. Our research area encompasses the human lifespan, within which early childhood is seen as a priority area as susceptibilities to mental health disorders often find their genesis during these crucial developmental years.
To achieve this goal, we have built and continue to expand the neuroinformatic infrastructure, datasets, algorithms, and technical capacities within the Ludmer Centre and, globally, have trained and collaborated with leading researchers to advance a neuroinformatics, big-data, approach to mental health research.
Three Strategic Pillars
- Building innovative neuroinformatics infrastructure, datasets & algorithms: Harnessing MCIN’s proven computational infrastructure —the reason a big-data approach is now possible— and building on new and existing datasets, the Ludmer Centre is expanding and developing researcher-friendly tools; databases populated with genetic, epigenetic and neuroimaging datasets; and powerful algorithms for complex, multivariate analysis of such data — essential innovations if researchers are to fully exploit large datasets.
- Leading & supporting ‘big-data’ research: The Ludmer Centre’s lead researchers and their teams ensure access to the neuroinformatics infrastructure and datasets by developing and leading research as well as engaging in multidisciplinary collaborations, nationally and internationally. Researchers around the globe are being trained, mentored and supported by the Ludmer Centre’s informatics and research teams to use the Ludmer Centre’s open-access resources, thereby maximising the impact of the datasets, algorithm software and neuroinformatics infrastructure.
- Investing in the future: The Ludmer Centre is developing neuroinformatics research capacities through the recruitment, mentoring and training of new researchers across varied disciplines, fostering a big-data approach to future research endeavours. The ultimate goal is the development of transdisciplinary research cadres capable of maximizing the potential of complex heterogeneous datasets and the Centre’s infrastructure.
The Ludmer Centre is leading mental health research, developing neuroinformatics tools, training scientists to embrace big data and encouraging greater transdisciplinary research in mental health and, more specifically, mental disorders: mental illnesses, cognitive disorders, and learning disabilities.
In November 2015, we received provisional approval as a McGill accredited research centre.