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at the interface of physics & neuroscience

The Neurophotonics Centre

One of the greatest challenges of modern science is to decipher the functional connectome of nature’s most complex organ, the human brain. This ranges from understanding how connections between nerve cells (synapses) form and rearrange throughout development, during learning and in the course of pathogenesis to deciphering how microcircuits of the brain process information and guide behaviour in the normal and diseased brain.

Neurophotonics enables the investigation of neural circuits in a non-destructive manner, using light to activate, repress or simply detect activity in living tissues, and is a technology that has shown potential to greatly increase our knowledge of brain function.  Novel microscopy techniques, also based on advances in our use of light technologies allow further and better investigation of the organisation of neural circuits.

The use of such technologies require extensive knowledge of Chemistry, to develop light-responsive molecules, Physics, to understand how light interacts with materials and tissues, Neuroscience, to understand the effects of these tools on the living brain and nervous system, and Computational modelling, to integrate the information obtained, and produce functional models that can then be tested experimentally.

The Neurophotonics Centre is a unique, state-of-the-art national facility for advanced Biophotonics approaches dedicated toward the understanding of the brain, the development of diagnostics for brain disorders and phototherapy. The centre brings together a team of researchers, scientists and staff who develop and use the most innovative methods integrating neuroscience and physics.

This innovative facility, located at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec (IUSMQ), has received >60M$ of funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and partners, the Quebec Government and more recently, the Canada Excellence Research Chair.

The Centre presently occupies 20,000 sq ft, with an additional 10,000 sq ft presently under construction. It includes 6 clean rooms, 46 microscopy rooms, wet labs, cold rooms, tissue culture rooms, histology rooms, and a workshop for instrument design.

The Neurophotonics Centre, through its ‘Frontiers in Neurophotonics’ Summer school, contributes to the training of highly qualified personnel in this specialized field. Moreover, this national facility offers services to the Canadian and International scientific communities through one or more of its platforms.

The mission of the Neurophotonics Center is to provide Canadian scientists the tools to use and develop the approaches of tomorrow to help solve the mysteries of the brain. It is also dedicated to the training of a new generation of scientists capable of developing the necessary technology to tackle unsolved brain-related function and disorders.