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Health & Community Leaders Talk: Dr. Tom Mikkelsen

Ontario's health research hospitals make our province healthier, wealthier, and smarter

How Brain-CODE Contributes to a Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Ontario
By Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute

Dr. Tom Mikkelsen OBI

At OBI, it’s our aim to maximize Ontario’s existing research assets and establish our province as a world leader in neuroscience. To help realize this goal, we developed five Integrated Discovery Programs that gather together researchers and clinical sites across the province dealing with specific diseases: epilepsy, cerebral palsy, neurodegenerative disorders, depression, and neurodevelopmental disorders. By connecting some of the best and brightest minds across the province, these programs allow us to address disorders that represent a significant burden to Ontarians, their families and Ontario’s society and economy.

The creation of these programs also resulted in an unprecedented opportunity for Ontario’s neuroscience community—an opportunity to share and maximize the value of neuroscience data in a way that was never-before-possible.

We developed Brain-CODE, an innovative data sharing platform that unites researchers by pooling their expertise and resources to achieve greater impact than they could have achieved in isolation. Brain-CODE manages the collection, sharing, processing and analytics of multidimensional data collected from patients with a variety of brain disorders. By standardizing the data, Brain-CODE maximizes the value of each individual’s participation in research. With the right security and privacy protocols, one person’s data can contribute to insights in an infinite number of studies.

This standardization also enables unprecedented data sharing so that, for example, Alzheimer’s researchers doing clinical studies can share their data with researchers focused on Parkinson’s Disease at a different site on the other side of the province. Here’s an illustration of how Brain-CODE can fuel collaboration:

At Providence Care in Kingston, Dr. Dallas Seitz is conducting a study on Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment as part of OBI’s Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI). Participants of the study undergo a variety of physical and cognitive evaluations and the data is processed, analyzed and stored through Brain-CODE. As soon as Dr. Seitz’s uploads his data, it’s made available to other researchers with access to Brain-CODE.  Down in London at the Lawson Health Research Institute, Dr. Mandar Jog is able to review Dr. Seitz’s data to inform his own research on Parkinson’s disease, potentially giving him new clues, insights or approaches on how to advance his work.

By bringing data together on one easily accessible plain, Brain-CODE shrinks the distance between scientists and provides fertile ground to advance research and accelerate discovery.

Brain-CODE enhances OBI’s initiatives to transform Ontario’s neuroscience research environment, improve brain health, and support Ontario’s economy – in essence, to contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario. The integration of data across disorders will lead to the generation of new hypotheses and open the door to discovering new treatments for patients. In addition, Brain-CODE could produce significant long-term gains by attracting clinical trials, reducing replicated research, and improving patient care. And by encouraging data sharing, Brain-CODE also helps to cultivate a culture of scientific collaboration and discovery in Ontario, helping us to attract the brightest neuroscientists from around the world. In doing all this, it’s our hope that Brain-CODE will help amplify the potential for discovery and make Ontario a world-leader in neuroscience.

Learn more about the Ontario Brain Institute and Brain-CODE at 


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