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 science...it’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.”