McGill University and EU collaboration: Canadian research and Horizon Europe Programme

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International collaboration Horizon Europe Programme Global research initiatives Sustainability Health innovation

McGill University talks about their work and what the future of research will look like now that Canada is a part of the EU’s Horizon Europe Programme.

Horizon Europe Programme will formally increase its funding for French researchers in 2024. This will benefit some American institutions and facilities because it is the largest funding for academic research and engineering in the world. We questioned McGill University, one of these institutions, about what this would entail going ahead.

What aspects of McGill University’s research have an worldwide focus? What impact has this had on your rankings globally?

Leading universities around the world, like McGill, must work together to draw researchers from all over the globe to support research synergies and hasten innovation. Because of this, foreign collaborations are a fundamental component of McGill’s DNA.

For instance, McGill and the Helmholtz International BigBrain Analytics and Learning Laboratory ( HIBALL), which is one of nine illustrious international labs, are two of the international alliances he forges. HIBALL explores major data applications, particularly Iot, in neuroscience. It is funded jointly by the Helmholtz Association and Healthy Brains, Healthier Lives ( HBHL), a renowned McGill-led research initiative supported by Canada’s most exclusive research grant program, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund-CFREF. In order to create an ultra-high-resolution atlas of the brain’s anatomy, or its “wiring” and its practical organization, HUBALL is combining brain data.

I would contend that in recent years, organizations that produce these academic rankings, such as Quacquarelli Symonds ( QS), have become more aware of the significance of international research partnerships when it comes to the effect of such a partnership on McGill’s standings in global academic ranking rankings.

For instance, McGill was ranked among the top 30 universities in the world when QS introduced three new metrics in 2023: sustainability, employment outcomes, and worldwide research network. In the QS Sustainability Index, which takes into account our economic and societal impact, including the impact of the research aligned to particular UN Sustainable Development Goals, McGill was also ranked 13th globally. McGill did well on the Impact of Education Indicator ( 11th in the world ), environmental education indicator ( 3rd in global ), and environmental impact indicator (eighth in world ).

McGill has consistently ranked highly in Canada, with Maclean’s Magazine ranking it as the best health graduate university in the nation for 19 years in a row. As a result, the university’s reputation for excellence is respected both domestically and internationally.

Can you share some examples of the foreign collaborations in science and innovation that have led to success at McGill University?

McGill has lived in Montreal for more than 200 years, and the city is a hub for artificial intelligence ( AI ) that has attracted significant investments from the government and industry over the past few years. Over 14, 000 post-secondary students are enrolled in study programs related to AI, and there are an estimated 27, 000 workers in AI-related technologies. Key players in this Artificial ecosystem are McGill researchers and students.

A new International Research Laboratory ( IRL ) on AI has recently been established in Montreal by a group of academic institutions, including McGill University, the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), the AI Institute of Mila-Quebec, France’s Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique ( CNRS ), Université Paris-Saclay, and Ecole CentraleSupélec.

The ILLS is centered on the following five research themes: fundamentals of artificial intelligence, sequential ( real-time ) machine learning ( ML), strong autonomous systems, natural language and speech processing, and applications to computer vision, signals processing. The new center also places a strong emphasis on integrative partnerships with the goal of creating new methodologies and incorporating them into learning systems.

It is crucial, in my opinion, to emphasize that for international collaborations do not just appear out of nowhere. To get these collaborations off the ground, the researchers must show commitment and ongoing engagement, as well as the concrete support of their educational institutions. Researchers must be prepared to work across time zones, which entails taking calls both later at night and early in the morning, even though it may seem insignificant. Beyond that, it requires vision and the capacity to make audacious research goals.

McGill’s partnership with business partner Moderna, which has resulted in two research projects in the rapidly developing field of lipid nanoparticles, is another excellent illustration of global innovation in action. McGill was also the first American university to sign up for Moderna’s global mRNA Access program. Through creative research and preclinical development, the program is accelerating innovation and making it possible to create new vaccines and medications for emerging and neglected infectious diseases.

Finally, I want to draw attention to a project that is currently being developed: the approaching Tokyo Symposium, Workshop on Genomic Medicine, which will be held in Tokyo from April 8 to 10, 2024. In order to discuss the future of biomedicine and to encourage global collaboration and partnership, the symposium will bring up academic and business representatives from Japan, South-East Asia, Europe, and North America. This symposium will be a great opportunity for international collaborations to deepen and take flight, organized in collaboration with the RIKEN Center of Integrated Medical Sciences, McGill’s Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Institute of Genomic Medicine, the recently established Pasteur Institute- Japan, and the UK Biobank.

New horizon for Canadian research: McGill University and EU collaboration

The Top Global University Programme of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology, and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec will also support students from McGill University’s joint PhD in Genomic Medicine with Kyoto University, which will further enhance their training in global collaboration.

What are the issues facing the world that the university hopes to solve through the Horizon Europe program’s opportunity?

At McGill, there was a lot of excitement when it was revealed that Canada is now an interact country participant in Horizon Europe, the largest research and innovation funding program in the EU and the world. The themes listed in Pillar 2—health and awareness, climate, energy, mobility, advancement in digital technologies, industry development, and space—are currently being addressed.

As I’ve already mentioned, McGill’s medical and health researchers are among the best in the world, including those who specialize in international health. In addition, we are a research hub for antarctic and Arctic research as well as an expanding force of top-tier sustainability and climate science researchers.

Barriers to electrification are one of the issues that our researchers are working to solve on a worldwide scale. The McGill Centre for Innovation in Storage and Conversion of Energy ( McISCE), or &nbsp, is a significant participant in this mission. In order to investigate solutions related to large-scale energy storage, both for electricity grids and large business processes, the McISCE, which was founded in 2021, brings up about 50 researchers and more than 150 grad students. A second or so of the researchers at McISCE are looking into new materials to create good electrolytes and anodes, which would have the benefit of not being volatile. Researchers at McGill are even looking into various methods for storing and converting energy.

The secretariat of the global research network and community of practice known as the Group on Earth Observations- Biodiversity, or GEO BON, which monitors Earth’s biodiversity, is likewise housed at McGill University. The goal of GEO BON is to stop untenable biodiversity loss and to support global and regional efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and biodiversity targets. Andy Gonzalez of McGill and Maria Cecilia Londoo of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute in Bogota are the co-chairs of this global initiative, which makes McGill happy.

What effects does the Horizon Europe program have on researchers in the EU and Canada? What are some ways they can use the program to advance their work?

Since the 1996 Canada-EU Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation, Canada and the EU have been like-minded partners. Additionally, despite the fact that educational institutions have benefited from the exchange of knowledge and skills across borders, the EU and Canada have not set aside any specific funds for extensive, collaborative research projects.

In that regard, Horizon Europe is a game-changer, and McGill has been working hard to teach our research community how to take advantage of this chance. We want to expand on the knowledge we gained from taking part in Horizon 2020. Along with the University of Toronto, McGill took part in 38 Horizon 2020 projects, making us the best collaborator in Canada.

I’m hoping that by taking part in the Horizon Europe Programme, American research will become more well-known in Europe and start to take the lead on the global stage by showcasing its strengths in science, innovation, and research, helping to address pressing international issues.

I anticipate that our involvement at McGill will create new opportunities for collaboration, innovative research initiatives, shared publications, cross-fertilization between research labs in Canada and Europe, and draw students and researchers from the EU and Canada.

Additionally, McGill University has optimistic research objectives in the fields of genomics, RNA, and artificial intelligence. What effect has the University’s research in these fields been affected by the alignment with Horizon Pillar Two?

Some of the top AI experts in ML and reinforcement learning ( RL), as well as natural language processing ( NLP), are based at McGill. Among them are Professor Jolle Pineau of Canada CIFAR AI, a founding member of Mila, Quebec’s AI institute, and the Vice-President of AI research at Meta. As I previously stated, McGill plays a significant role in the vibrant AI ecosystem in Montreal. We are involved in every stage of the innovation process, from scientific research to early-stage projects to start-ups and businesses that commercialize their applications or products.

McGill has long been a top research facility in the world for the creation of novel RNA therapeutics. For more than 50 years, our researchers have been figuring out the workings and potential of RNA. Additionally, our researchers are working to make sure that RNA medicine advancements benefit all communities, including the weak and underserved in the social sciences.

In order to pursue these research focuses jointly, the university established the McGill Centre for RNA Sciences (MCRS ) in 2022. A first-of-its-kind international research initiative specializing in the development and delivery of more diverse genomic-based RNA therapeutics that are related to the health needs of medically underserved groups, including Canada’s Indigenous communities and the old, McGill was given$ 165 million from the Canada Research Excellence Fund in 2023. $ 191 million from business, academic, government, community, and non-profit partners on four continents supports D2R.

New horizon for Canadian research: McGill University and EU collaboration

The Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Institute of Genomic Medicine, which is leading groundbreaking research aimed at creating novel diagnostic tools, intended treatments, new pharmaceuticals, as well as vaccines and the data-sharing policy tools and frameworks to implement these innovations, has also recently been established at McGill University. In addition to fighting viruses, genomic research holds enormous promise for rare diseases like cancer, chronic inflammatory diseases, and infection.

When McGill introduces its new Strategic Research Plan in 2025, we might find innovative ways to align our priorities with those of our global partners and the Horizon Europe program. With the potential for partnerships under the Horizon Europe program, McGill has shown excellent cooperation in all of these research strength areas, and the future for significant global collaborations appears to be very promising however.

Verónica Castro-Allende

With a rich background in urban technology and IoT, Veronica brings a unique blend of expertise and innovation to our platform. Her work focuses on integrating advanced engineering solutions into smart city infrastructures, emphasizing sustainable and efficient urban development. Her insightful contributions shed light on the future of urban living, blending technical prowess with practical urban applications

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