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The Researchers

Profile Image of Dr Alan Evans

The importance of research

Neurodegenerative diseases are an ominous threat to future Canadian health and prosperity as our population ages. It is essential that we improve our approach to understanding, detection and treatment of such diseases. Revolutionary new technologies in genomics and neuroimaging have provided a wealth of new data; however, translating this data into useful knowledge constitutes a major challenge. We face the challenge by building a national neuroinformatics network for integration of clinical and basic research on neurodegenerative disease. We will unite this community through an existing national IT-infrastructure, and will promote the sharing of data, ideas, expertise and trainees across the community. We will pursue the integration of industry and non-profit research partners to promote collaboration between sectors in the search for effective interventions.

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Alan C. Evans

Biography

Alan Evans is a James McGill Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering at McGill and a world authority on brain mapping with imaging technologies (http://www.mcin.ca) and their application to our understanding of brain disorders, in particular dementia. His focus is on brain networks, how different brain areas communicate, and the impact of disease on those networks. He has recently developed new models to quantify how degenerative disease can propagate through the ‘white matter’ connections between brain areas. This work has major implications for the identification of early biomarkers of dementia and the design of therapeutic interventions.

Dr. Evans has 527 peer-reviewed publications (Google Scholar h-index=160) and has held numerous leadership roles, notably as director of the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre. He is currently a co-Director the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health, where he uses high-performance computing to integrate imaging, behavior, genetics and epigenetics in brain research. He heads a Canadian network in large-scale grid-processing of brain imaging data (CBRAIN). In 2014, he received the Vezina Prize for Quebec Neuroradiology, the national Margolese Human Brain Disorders Prize and recognition as a Highly Cited Scientist (top 1%) for Neuroscience and Behavior. In 2015, he was appointed Chair-Elect of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) and was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Current Work

There is considerable interest in the study of the propagation of toxic proteins such as beta-amyloid or tau during the progression Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Yasser Iturria-Medina, in Dr. Alan Evans’ lab at the MNI, has developed a computational model that measures the propagation of beta-amyloid using PET brain imaging data. This analysis has revealed some important conclusions about the underlying mechanisms that give rise to the accumulation of beta-amyloid [read more].

Dr. Evans’ team proposes to extend this analysis to the study of tau protein propagation, also using PET data. This will allow for the understanding of the different pathological processes that are associated with concurrent beta-amyloid and tau transmission as well as the interaction between them.

Together We Can Make A Difference