Top Canadian scientist leaving country for UK over ‘worrisome’ research cuts

Robert Brownstone will take up the role of chair of neurosurgery at University College London

July 5, 2015
Money cuts

One of Canada’s leading neuroscientists has announced that he is leaving the country for a position at University College London, citing the Canadian government’s science funding cuts as a primary factor.

Robert Brownstone said he will leave his position as director of research in the division of neurosurgery at Dalhousie University in Halifax to take up the role of chair of neurosurgery at UCL.

In an interview with CBC radio, he said cuts to scientific research in Canada mean everything is not all smooth here with’s worrisome”.

He added: They really appreciate the value of knowledge in London. They’re interested and excited about creating new knowledge.”

According to the national broadcaster, Dr Brownstone was given a research grant of C$1.7 million (£867,000) last year, but he said that the Canadian government’s decision in 2013 to reset the National Research Council to a model that favours practical applications for industries has had a “huge” impact.

Regarding the future of scientific research in Canada, Dr Brownstone said: I’m concerned we’re going to lose the culture of knowledge and the culture of the importance of knowledge.”

He added: Discovery science is essential in order to further not only our knowledge about what’s happening out there, but it makes the world a better place.

“An example that I like to give is that of James Clerk Maxwell. He was a 19th-century Scottish physicist, the father of electro-magnetic theory...We’re talking on the telephone today, we have satellite communication, we have television. Much of what we do is based on Maxwell’s equations. He discovered that out of curiosity about how the world works.”

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Reader's comments (2)

Professor Brownstone, I, for one, can guarantee you that UK is not the country to escape to for a better funding prospect. Canada is probably the only country out there that still fund curiosity driven research for most academics who are research active. Perhaps Mr Stehpen Harper is trying to destroy this, but it is still way better than the UK. Yes, Maxwell was a great scientist from Scotland, but that was two centuries ago and he had nothing to do with EPSRC. Now you are better doing research about how to manufacturing cakes to get funded: Sorry for speaking the truth.
Moreover, in the UK, we don't "worry" about research funding cuts any more; we cope with it. For the picture shown above, I bet UK only has the smaller half of coins left...