L-R (upper row) Dr. David Eidelman, Dean of Medicine; Dr. Urs Obrist, Senior Science and Technology Counsellor, Embassy of Switzerland; Prof. Jean-Marc Fritschy, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Zürich, Co-Director, Neuroscience Center Zurich; Anne McKinney, Associate Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation and Chair, Brain@McGill; Elisabeth Bösch-Malinen, Swiss Consul General, Montreal; Nick Baker, British Consul General, Montreal. L-R (bottom row) Prof. Michael Hengartner, President, University of Zurich; Prof. Fritjof Helmchen, Director, Neuroscience Center Zurich; Anna Christina Nobre, Head of Oxford Neuroscience; Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation; Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. / Photo: Owen Egan

McGill, Oxford and ZNZ renew tripartite partnership agreement at ceremony at McGill on May 29

By Meaghan Thurston, The McGill Reporter

The renewal of the tripartite partnership agreement between the Brain@McGill, the University of Oxford, and the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich (ZNZ) took place on May 29, amidst much excitement for what has been to date a fruitful and ambitious venture.

First signed in 2013, the three-way agreement has since supported over 60 collaborations, including research projects and research workshops in diverse areas; from work related to bilingualism, to that confronting Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Projects have also focused on sleep and the influence of disrupted circadian rhythms, among other topics. The Velux Foundation, based in Switzerland, has awarded significant funding for three research projects investigating healthy aging under the tripartite agreement.

“The Tripartite partnership has engaged our respective research communities at all levels, as well as having led to new opportunities with the Velux Foundation,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier, to open the event. “Projects that are intersectoral and international in scope – like those undertaken jointly by ZNZ, Oxford, and Brain@McGill – can only have a positive impact on our ability to overcome some of our most pressing challenges in neuroscience.”

In addition, the partnership has facilitated mobility of students and staff between the four institutions and has promoted research initiatives bridging basic and clinical neuroscience, drawing on complementary expertise.

Following the signing, Adam Steinberg speaks with Suzanne Fortier at a lunch honouring his father, former Chancellor Arnold Steinberg. / Photo: Owen Egan

The tripartite agreement was renewed for five years and will provide funding opportunities for collaborative projects; facilitate mobility of students and staff between the three institutions; and promote research initiatives bridging basic and clinical neuroscience, based on complementary expertise. This will provide an unprecedented opportunity to enhance human health, particularly in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

“The tripartite partnership with Brain@McGill and Oxford Neuroscience is a cornerstone in the strategy of the Neuroscience Center Zurich to cooperate with world-leading institutions, providing our researchers and students with unique networking opportunities and state-of-the-art research collaborations,” said Prof. Jean-Marc Fritschy, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Zürich, Co-Director, Neuroscience Center Zurich. “We look forward to jointly furthering knowledge in Neuroscience, for the benefit of patients and society, and to contribute toward the international standing of our Universities.”

“The remarkable success of this partnership stems from our shared commitment to delivering the best fundamental science and experimental research for the benefit of society,” said Anna Christina (Kia) Nobre, Head of Oxford Neuroscience. “We are excited by the opportunities that the new agreement affords to build on our achievements, including promoting open science and the development of future leaders in neuroscience, as well as to address some of the most challenging health issues facing Europe and the world today.”

Guests of the event, which included both international researchers and dignitaries, industry representatives as well as donors to the initiative, participated in a celebratory luncheon at which McGill’s former Chancellor Arnold Steinberg was remembered for kick-starting this bold international collaboration.

“His vision and generosity have played a pivotal role in helping us establish McGill’s excellence in health science and neuroscience, and he was, in many ways, a catalyst for this tripartite partnership,” said McGill’s Vice-Principal, University Advancement, Marc Weinstein. “It was he that made the first major donation to the Brain@McGill initiative, propelling it forward.”

Adam Steinberg, the son of the former chancellor, attended the luncheon in his father’s honour. Following the luncheon, guests participated in an afternoon devoted to research presentations by the partner-researchers.

Signatories of the renewed agreement included McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Suzanne Fortier, Dr. Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation, Prof. Anna Christina Nobre, Head of Oxford Neuroscience, Prof. Michael Hengartner, President of the University of Zurich, and Prof. Fritjof Helmchen, Director Neuroscience Center Zurich (in absentia, Prof. Detlef Günther, Vice President Research and Corporate Relations, ETH Zurich and Chris Kennard, Head of Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford.)

June 9, 2017