In September 2016, the federal government made an unparalleled investment in research and innovation, announcing $84 million in funding over seven years for McGill’s Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives initiative, as part of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) program. Following this announcement, a committee for the selection of the HBHL Managing Director engaged in an extensive search and interview process. The Chair of the Selection Committee, Vice-Principal Rosie Goldstein, is now pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ronald Lafrenière to the position of Managing Director, HBHL, effective February 20, 2017.
With ultimate responsibility for the management and administration of the HBHL initiative and staff, Dr. Lafrenière will provide strategic operational leadership, support decision-making and peer-review processes, and oversee the development of new partnerships in service of the HBHL mission and vision. Reporting to Alan Evans, the Scientific Director of HBHL, and to the HBHL board, Dr. Lafrenière will also work closely with the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation).
“Dr. Lafrenière brings to McGill a wealth of experience and expertise in management of large research projects, as well as partnering in biotechnology-intensive fields,” said Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “With his deep understanding of how organizations can support and encourage research and innovation excellence, we feel that Dr. Lafrenière will be a great asset to the HBHL program and its vision of healthier brains through research, education, clinical care and innovation.”
Having received his PhD in Biology from McGill, Dr. Lafrenière returns to the University with strong academic and management credentials, gained in both the public and private sectors. Since 2013, he has served as a project manager at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) Research Centre, during which time he has helped advance genomic research in Canada and internationally. He has also served as Coordinator and Scientific Advisor for the Réseau de Médecine Génétique Appliquée (RMGA) at the Centre hospitalier universitaire Ste-Justine since 2011.
As Executive Director of the Centre of Excellence in Neuromics of Université de Montréal (CENUM) from 2008-2013, Dr. Lafrenière was responsible for establishing multidisciplinary research teams, for establishing collaborations between members of the Centre and collaborators in Quebec, Canada and abroad, as well as for coordinating the financing of large research projects. His experience in management of these, among other, large-scale research projects, as well as the biotech start-up company Emerillon Therapeutics, uniquely qualifies him to successfully steward the ambitious HBHL project to make McGill a global hub for brain research.
“I am delighted by the appointment of Dr. Lafrenière as HBHL’s Managing Director, “said Dr. Alan Evans, Scientific Director, HBHL. This initiative is ambitious enterprise with many moving parts. It needs an energetic and committed individual to manage its many interlocking aspects of administration, training, fund management and corporate partnership. Ron has a wealth of experience in these areas as well as a strong background in brain research that will be of enormous benefit for his interaction with HBHL’s scientific leaders. I look forward to working very closely with him in the years to come.”
“It’s a great pleasure for me to join the HBHL initiative, an outstanding opportunity to advance interdisciplinary research into brain function and mental health, and expand treatment options and social policies”, said Dr. Lafrenière. “I look forward to collaborating with the McGill community and its many partners to attain HBHL’s goals and objectives.”
Ever since Dr. Wilder Penfield founded the Montreal Neurological Institute in 1934, McGill has been at the forefront of neuroscience. HBHL will transform how we see and treat the brain, bringing new levels of insight to how we function in disease, in health, in our nuanced interactions with our environments, and as we change over our lifetimes. The goal of HBHL is to reduce the human and socio-economic burden of psychiatric and neurological illnesses (estimated at $22.7 billion annually in Canada), and improve the mental health, quality of life, and productivity of Canadians and people around the world for generations to come.