The CHU Sainte-Justine has one of the highest concentrations of neurodevelopmental researchers in Quebec, with over 40 renowned scientists working in cutting-edge genomics and neurobiology facilities.

A world of infinite possibilities to explore

They collaborate closely with clinicians and professionals, and their current challenge is to gain a better understanding of the causes —genetic or environmental— and evolution of brain disease and neurodevelopmental disorders, especially rare genetic disorders, autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities, with a view to earlier screening and diagnosis and better chances of treatment.

  • 17% of Quebec children and adolescents have neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • 20% of children suffer from brain disease or neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • One in every 12 Quebecers—most of them children—has a genetic disorder that has a major developmental impact.

Integrated Centre for Child Neurodevelopment (CIRENE)

Language delays, learning difficulties, attention deficits, autism, epilepsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders are complex and take many forms. They affect a significant number of preschoolers, making them even more difficult to diagnose. 

CIRENE was established out of a desire to combine mass screening, early diagnosis and personalized treatment, largely thanks to Sainte-Justine’s integrated clinics (genetics, neurology, psychology, speech/language pathology, etc.), and with the support of donors to the Foundation. 

By leveraging collaboration, this system enables earlier screening, so that we can steer children and their families to the best resources more quickly.

At CIRENE, the only centre of its kind in North America, children can see several specialists on the same visit and have samples taken for testing at a centralized biobank.

The results are very promising: over the past two years, waiting times have gone from 15 months to two weeks, and children have been referred to the right experts in 100% of cases.

When he woke up after the operation, he started pointing at everything he saw. He’d never done that before!

Jules' mom

Jules’ new life

[In French only]

From the time he was four months old until his operation at 15 months, little Jules was stricken by some 30 violent epileptic seizures a day. 

With such frequent, violent seizures, his neurological development was at risk. He couldn’t talk, stopped walking and stopped growing.

Jules was seen by the CIRENE team. Various brain imaging tests revealed the precise area of the brain that was causing the epileptic seizures so it could be “disconnected,” without affecting the rest of his brain. 

Despite living with a quarter of his brain gone, Jules has caught up with his motor development and almost a year after the surgery, he has still not had another seizure!