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Concordia appoints Habib Benali as interim scientific director of the PERFORM Centre

Outgoing director Louis Bherer accepts a new position at Université de Montreal
August 31, 2016
By Renée Dunk

Louis Bherer, the PERFORM Centre’s scientific director, is taking a leave of absence from Concordia effective September 1. He has accepted a professorship in Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine, where he will be conducting research on exercise and brain health at the Montréal Heart Institute.

Bherer will continue his association with Concordia as associate scientific director.

Habib Benali | Photo by David Ward Habib Benali | Photo by David Ward

Stepping in as interim scientific director of the preventive health centre is Habib Benali, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and PERFORM's associate scientific director of biomedical engineering.

Graham Carr, Vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies, says Bherer has made truly exceptional contributions to Concordia.

“He has really put his imprint on PERFORM as a centre for innovation and collaboration in the field of prevention and healthy lifestyle, which is one the most dynamic areas of health research and training.  The new opportunity he is pursuing speaks to the world-class quality of his personal research program — and to the respect that Concordia is earning as an important and unique contributor to the field of medical research in Montreal,

“As the inaugural PERFORM chair and scientific director, Louis’s vision, energy, appetite for collaboration and ambition for success have put the centre on the map. His tireless work has enabled us to recruit outstanding faculty of international quality, attract top-quality students and postdocs and emerge as an important new partner in the Quebec and Canadian landscape of health research.

“I am proud of and grateful for everything that Louis has given to Concordia. He is a true leader. I know I am not alone in being sad at his decision to move over the mountain, but I am very eager to pursue new collaborations as he embarks on the next phase of his astonishing career.”

For his part, Bherer is proud of what the PERFORM research team has been able to accomplish over the last four years. “We’ve laid the foundation for our mission of advancing research, education and community engagement while offering unique opportunities for new discoveries in preventive health research,” he says.

“With the support and guidance of the exceptional team of researchers, students and staff we have established, PERFORM will continue to blossom in the years to come.”

Looking forward, Carr is extremely pleased that PERFORM will be in safe hands under the leadership of Habib Benali, given the scope of his international research and administrative portfolio, his extraordinary connections with the health research community in Montréal and his commitment to the institutional vision for PERFORM.

“We are unbelievably fortunate that a person of Habib’s calibre and experience is poised to accept the interim scientific director position,” says Carr. “As an engineer who also has deep connections in the Faculty of Arts and Science, he will continue to advance PERFORM’s role in fostering interdisciplinary research and training collaborations between numerous departments and faculties, as well as with our many inter-institutional research networks.”

Benali’s research examines how multimodal imaging and computational modelling can be used to better understand which factors promote a healthy lifestyle. The internationally renowned scientist from Paris, who has received multiple distinctions and research awards, brings a wealth of leadership experience to the position.

Prior to joining Concordia earlier this year, he served as co-director of the International Laboratory of Neuroimaging and Modelling (LlNeM), a collaboration of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (lNSERM), Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC, part of the Sorbonne Universities) and Université de Montréal.

Benali was the head of the Laboratory of Functional Imaging (INSERM U678 unit, France) until 2013, and served as the deputy director of the 110-member Biomedical Imaging Laboratory U1146, INSERM — part of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and UPMC University — until 2015.

He looks forward to his new leadership role at Concordia. "My goal is to develop strong relationships with other research teams generating and fostering preventive health research, and research engineering teams, in particular, on the regional, national and international scene,” he says. “I hope to provide the scientific direction to make the PERFORM Centre a world leader in research, education and community involvement for better health.”

Carr says that the leadership team at the centre, which also includes Jean-Paul Soucy, PERFORM associate director of bio-imaging and a professor at McGill University, an outstanding professional staff, and a strong team of department chairs and research scientists who help to execute the vision for PERFORM, will continue to have Concordia’s full support as they work to increase the visibility and impact of preventive and healthy lifestyle research.

Find out more about the PERFORM Centre’s prevention and healthy lifestyle programs.


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