Oct 18: The Interplay between Genes and Environment.

Previous ideas about the origins of our individual differences were based around the nature-nurture dichotomy. Current research shows that not only are we born with genetic predispositions but our genes also listen to our experience as we develop. This gene-environment interplay moulds our bodies and minds making us who we are.

Marla B. Sokolowski PhD, FRSC is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Toronto. She codirects the Child and Brain Development Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Her research on how genes interact with the environment to impact behaviour has achieved worldwide acclaim.

Oct 25: Bacteria and Behaviour: Curious Travels in Another World

This discussion will reveal the amazing bacterial world in which we live (we are their guests). We learn how science supports the possibility and even likelihood that our gut bacteria influence our behaviour in health and disease.

 Dr. John Bienenstock, CM, FRCPC, MD (Hon), FRSC is an active researcher, currently Director of the Brain-Body Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. He is a Member of the Order of Canada, inductee into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and former Dean & Vice-President of Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University.

Nov 1: Your Amazing Plastic Brain

The brain has an incredible power for self-healing through its natural plasticity.  What is the power of neuroplasticity? If this power exists why do people with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke and concussion continue to be compromised years after their neurological events? Dr. Brown will lead us through his studies that focus on encouraging neuroplasticity to effect greater repair and regeneration after injury. 

Dr. Arthur Brown is a Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Western University and a Scientist at the Robarts Research Institute. He obtained his PhD in Medical and Molecular Genetics from the University of Toronto and then studied nerve growth in embryos at the Salk Institute in San Diego. His laboratory is focused on developing strategies to improve regeneration in the injured nervous system.

Nov. 8: Sleep and the Rhythm of Life

 The human brain is the most complex known machine in the universe, yet it shuts itself off from the outside world each and every day, for hours on end. Why? Here we identify why rest and sleep evolved in humans and other living things, and how sleep rewires our brains daily to make us who we are.

Richard Horner, PhD, FCAHS is Canada Research Chair in sleep science, Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Toronto, and elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He has authored over a hundred research papers on sleep science and the book The Universal Pastime: Sleep and Rest Explained.

Nov 15: The Evolving Landscape of Cannabis in Canada

Dramatic changes in the regulation of cannabis have taken place recently most notably its legalization for non-medical purposes on October 17th, 2018. This lecture will review this changing landscape, the risks and harms associated with cannabis, and its potential applications as a medical treatment.

James MacKillop, PhD, is an active researcher and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University & St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. He is the inaugural holder of the Peter Boris Chair in Addictions Research, and Co-Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

Nov 22: My pain – it’s personal!

We all feel pain but our individual experiences are our own. The same stimulus (like a needle) can be experienced differently. People with chronic pain cope and endure at different levels. This lecture will discuss new findings emerging from brain imaging studies that reveal the reasons for these differences, and the ways we can use this information to develop a personalized approach to pain management.

Karen Davis, PhD is a neuroscientist studying the mechanisms underlying pain. She is a professor and senior scientist at the University of Toronto and the Krembil Brain Institute.  Her work over the last 30 years has shaped thinking about pain, the brain, and neuroethics. She has been inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and is President-Elect of the Canadian Pain Society.