CIFAR

18
Jul 2017
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Stem Cell and Artificial Intelligence Researchers Collaborate to Understand Memory

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Oscar Wilde once poetically waxed that “Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”  Two University of Toronto researchers recently published a review paper in journal Neuron that pointed to the fact that we only keep the memories that really matter to us. …

Oscar Wilde once poetically waxed that “Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”  Two University of Toronto researchers recently published a review paper in journal Neuron that pointed to the fact that we only keep the memories that really matter to us.  Like a leather bound diary, our memory has finite amount of space and we erase the memories that we don’t have a particular attachment with to make room for new ones. This ultimately helps us with decision making as we only need to scan information that is valuable to us.

“It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world,” says Dr. Blake Richards, co-author of the study, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Biological Sciences, and a fellow in CIFAR’s Program in Learning in Machines & Brains, in an article posted on CIFAR’s website.  “If you’re trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up multiple conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision,” adds Dr. Richards.

Beyond being assured that memory loss is part of a healthy brain and intelligent decision making, the research is interesting because it combined learnings from artificial intelligence (AI) with available stem cell research regarding the role of neural brain cells in memory.

“Canadian researchers are world-class leaders in both stem cell research and artificial intelligence – two fields that have significant potential to transform society.  It’s truly exciting to continue this line of collaboration so that we can understand something as complex and important as the human brain” says Dr. Alan Bernstein, President and CEO of CIFAR and Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

Further collaborations between AI and the field of stem cell research could help researchers predict other types of cellular activity and ultimately accelerate the delivery of new treatment developments to the clinic.

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04
Apr 2017
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Congratulations to Dr. Alan Bernstein – Awarded 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize

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Dr. Alan Bernstein, Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, has been awarded the 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for his significant contributions to health and innovation.   …

Dr. Alan Bernstein, Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, has been awarded the 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for his significant contributions to health and innovation.   The prize, established in 2005, recognizes “exceptional innovation by a visionary health leader”.

As the press release notes, there are many examples of Dr. Bernstein’s impact on health research and his ability to build strong collaborations.

  • As the inaugural President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, he brought together biomedical, clinical and social scientists and set the standard for transdisciplinary research in Canada.
  • Serving as the Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, Dr. Bernstein built an international alliance of researchers and funders to accelerate the development of HIV vaccines.
  • As the President & CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, he promotes collaboration on a global scale by forging partnerships between international researchers to work on health, social and technological challenges.

Dr. Bernstein’s own stem cell and cancer research is rooted in strong partnerships as we wrote about here when he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.   A fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Science, he is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

As the Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, Dr. Bernstein was instrumental in the collaborative effort that brought together 150 scientists, doctors, leaders from health charities, industry experts and philanthropists to craft the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy with a unified vision to deliver 10 new stem cell therapies to the clinic within 10 years.

“Helen Keller is attributed with the quote ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’ and Alan’s career characterizes the sentiment,”  noted James Price, President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation,  “We congratulate Dr. Bernstein on this award and thank him for his exemplary leadership”.

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