Our History

In 1986, Dr. Gordon Francis developed the first clinical trials at the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Clinic at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital). This research was groundbreaking, helping to find the first clinically approved medicines for MS, greatly improving the lives of patients. It also helped set the stage for the CRU’s continued leadership in clinical research.

The second phase of the CRU began in 1998, when Dr. Douglas Arnold took over the reins of the unit, eventually adding trials for stroke, spine and brain tumour and an early trial for ALS during his tenure. He also created an in-house lab team to process and ship all biological samples for trial participants according to exacting standards.

Beginning in 2004, the CRU was led by Dr. Angela Genge,  also the director of the ALS Centre for Excellence at The Neuro. The unit moved from a single PI framework to a multi-PI model and continued to expand disease areas, as well as support functions (nursing, contracts, ethics, It, communications) to ensure the most efficient and cost effective management.

Under Dr. Genge’s leadership, the CRU  expanded to become the largest neurological clinical trials unit in Canada, conducting over 115 industry- and investigator-sponsored Phase I-IV clinical trials across 11 areas of neurology, with new disease indications added annually.

In 2023, two new co-directors came to the helm of the CRU: Dr. Ziv Gan-Or and Dr. Massimo Pandolfo. They each have extensive expertise in personalized medicine and drug target development, making them ideal to lead the CRU in this new chapter.

Treatments for rare disease have made huge strides in the past decade. There are exciting advances being made as precision medicine and targeted gene therapies enter the research arena for neurological conditions. As a leading centre for clinical research in neurology, the CRU will continue to test cutting-edge therapies and offer patients access to the most promising potential treatments.


The CRU is known for its expertise in rare diseases and is home to a first-of-its-kind Phase 1 Unit dedicated to neurological disorders. Related initiatives, such as the ALS Global Centre of Excellence, fuel the drug discovery pipeline and accelerate the development of new therapies for rare and terminal neurological diseases.

Today, the CRU team conducts over 100 industry- and investigator-sponsored Phase I-IV clinical trials across all areas of neurology including but not limited to the following domains:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and related
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain Tumour
  • Movement Disorders
  • Stroke and Spine Disorders
  • Neurological Pain Syndromes
  • Rare Genetic Diseases

This research is focused on finding new and better medicines for people living with neurological diseases.

The CRU is a proud partner of the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute (TOSI), actively participating in The Neuro’s Open Biobank (C-BIG) project to help build and expand the repository of biological specimens and clinical information from patients with neurological diseases. This platform allows patients to contribute to advancing our understanding of the diseases affecting them. 

The Unit also encourages partnerships with small biotechs to develop their therapeutic programs.

If you or your loved one are suffering from a neurological disease and would like more information on opportunities for involvement in research, please contact us at: (514) 398-5500 or info-CRU.neuro@mcgill.ca.

Our Vision:

To make all neurological and rare diseases treatable.

Our Mission:

To provide hope to individuals with neurological conditions, to lead the development of cutting-edge treatments, and to drive global standards in clinical research.

The CRU delivers efficient translational solutions to bring treatments from pre-clinical stage to approval. Self-financed, the CRU provides a focused and streamlined interdisciplinary environment driving global standards in clinical research.