BrainsCAN Research Impact Day

"A Research Day with Impact at its Core"


9 am - 4 pm

The Great Hall, Somerville House, Western University

(or via Zoom)

BrainsCAN Research Impact Day is an opportunity to recognize the diverse impacts that our research community produces, including social, economic, environmental, cultural, educational, as well as scientific contributions.

We invite researchers at all levels, from undergraduate students to professors, and community members who want to learn about how the advanced neuroscience research at Western University is making a positive impact on society.



9.00 am

Registration & Refreshments

9.30 am

Land acknowledgement - Ravi Menon, Co-Scientific Director, BrainsCAN

9.35 am

Opening remarks
Penny Pexman, Vice-President (Research) at Western University

Penny Pexman is Vice-President (Research) at Western University, effective September 1, 2023. She was previously Associate Vice-President (Research) at the University of Calgary. A Professor of Psychology, her research expertise is in cognitive development, psycholinguistics, and cognitive neuroscience. In broad terms, she is interested in how we derive meaning from language, and how those processes are changed by damage or experience. An award-winning researcher and mentor, Penny has published over 150 journal articles and book chapters on those topics.
Peter Fragiskatos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue - London North Centre

Peter Fragiskatos was first elected as the Member of Parliament for London North Centre in 2015. In this role, he has served as a member of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. As a political scientist, his works have been published by Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, BBC News, and CNN. He has served on the boards of Anago (Non) Residential Resources Inc. and the Heritage London Foundation. He has also run a youth mentorship program with the London Food Bank, the London Cross-Cultural Learner Centre, and Literacy London.

9.45 am

Introduction by BrainsCAN Co-Scientific Directors
Lisa Saksida, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, Western University

Dr. Saksida is a Professor of Physiology & Pharmacology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Translational Cognitive Neuroscience. In 2020, she was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, named a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and honored as one of the Women's Executive Network (WXN) Top 100. In her research, she draws on her diverse expertise in psychology, robotics and artificial intelligence, and computer sciences.
Ravi Menon, Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair Emeritus, Western University

Dr. Menon is a Professor of Medical Biophysics and Medical Imaging. He was one of 20 recipients of the Explorers Medal from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. In 2015, he was elected as a Senior Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In 2019, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s highest award in the arts and sciences.

10.00 am

Keynote Speaker Session: "The Unseen Wounds We Carry"
Jen Kish, Mental health advocate and Olympic medalist

Jen Kish is an exceptional athlete, advocate, and television personality, who has left an indelible mark in the world of sports and beyond. As a former professional rugby player, she captained the Canadian Women's Rugby Sevens Team to victory in the 2015 Pan American Games and led her team to a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Off the field, she has displayed unwavering commitment to mental health and concussion research, including the decision to donate her brain to a study aimed at advancing our understanding of the long-term affects of head injuries in female athletes to raise awareness and advocate for a better understanding and support systems in sports. Kish's passion for promoting mental well-being led her to collaborate with various organizations and share her personal experiences, inspiring countless individuals. Additionally, she has graced the screens as a television personality, using her platform to engage and entertain viewers while also advocating for meaningful causes. Jen Kish embodies the true spirit of a champion, both in her athletic achievements and her dedication to making a positive impact in the world

11.00 am


11.30 am

Importance of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in amplifying Research Impact

Kate Choi, Director, Centre for Research on Social Inequality and Associate Professor at Western University

Dr. Choi is a social demographer, inequality scholar, and quantitative sociologist. Her research examines the nature, determinants, and consequences of social inequality. Her work seeks to identify the social forces and structures that perpetuate racial and socioeconomic inequality.
Olivia Ghosh-Swaby, Vanier Canada Doctoral Scholar in Neuroscience at Western University

Olivia Ghosh-Swaby is a trailblazer, educator, and consultant in EDI, with extensive national and international involvement. Olivia founded the Schulich Council on Reforming Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Trainees, and secured funding for Black scholars through her work at the Heart & Stroke foundation. She also developed an open-access toolkit called Inclusive Science 4 All with a $55,000 grant. As the Executive Director of the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Association, Olivia advocates for collegiate women and racialized individuals in the sport.
Jibran Khokhar, Associate Professor at Western University

Dr. Khokhar’s research aims to understand the mechanisms underlying co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorders, using a variety of behavioural, pharmacological and translational neuroimaging techniques. In addition, his research interests also include assessing the long-term effects of adolescent drug (e.g., cannabis) use, and how these effects might contribute to the risk for serious mental illness and addiction.
Jen Kish, Mental health advocate and Olympic medalist

Jen Kish is a renowned athlete who has made significant contributions to the sport of rugby. In addition to her athletic achievements, she is also a passionate advocate for gender equality and inclusion in sports, working tirelessly to empower women and promote diversity in the sporting world.
Krystle van Hoof, Managing Director & CEO at Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives, McGill University

Krystle van Hoof has dedicated her career to supporting non-profit and public sector organizations. Krystle focuses on enhancing systems to promote justice and equality. From 2013 to 2019, she was the Assistant Director of the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health, where she received a President’s Award of Excellence for her role in developing and implementing the sex-and-gender-based analysis plus strategy across CIHR. Currently, as the MD & CEO of McGill’s Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives initiative, she heads the action plan centered on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Moderated by: Jane Roskams, BrainsCAN Board Member

12.30 pm

Lunch with Impact Focused Poster Session

3.55 pm

Award Announcements & Closing remarks

Invited Talks

1.30 pm

Improving Diagnosis and Prognosis after Severe Brain Injury
Adrian Owen, Leonard & Winifred Rodrigues and Derek Debicki

Advances in life-saving medical technology have dramatically increased survival rates for patients after severe brain injury. In this session, we will showcase some of the novel neuroimaging approaches we have developed within BrainsCAN to improve both diagnosis and prognosis in this extremely challenging patient population. We will also hear from the spouse and caretaker of one patient about their experiences working with the team as they sought to fully understand and document her husband’s brain injury.
Adrian Owen, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging, Western University

Dr. Owen is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at Western University, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Creyos (formerly Cambridge Brain Sciences),and co-Director of the CIFAR Brain, Mind, and Consciousness program. His research combines structural and functional neuroimaging with neuropsychological studies of brain-injured patients. Owen has published over 400 scientific articles and chapters and a best-selling popular science book ‘Into the Gray Zone’. He was awarded an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2019 for services to scientific research and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2022.
Leonard & Winifred Rodrigues

Leonard suffered a cardiac arrest on May 26, 2010, which resulted in a brain injury. He was initially diagnosed as being in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) with no hope for any progress. However, in 2012, Winifred, Leonard's caregiver, took the initiative to reach out and had a doctor's referral sent on his behalf. Leonard's first visit to the medical facility was in early 2013, during which EEG and behavioral testing were conducted at his bedside. He was then brought to London in March 2013 for ERP/EEG and fMRI. Over the years, Leonard returned for more testing between 2013 and 2018.Throughout this challenging journey, Winifred has been an incredible advocate for Leonard, diligently documenting any progress he makes. Her unwavering hope and dedication have been evident as she takes Leonard on trips and regularly sends email and video updates, sharing exciting new responses from him.

Derek Debicki, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Western University

Dr Debicki's research interests are primarily related to the use of continuous EEG monitoring in critically ill patients. Clinical interests include inpatient consultations in the Intensive Care Unit as a member of the Neurocritical Care service and outpatient epilepsy.

2.15 pm


2.25 pm

Alzheimer Society Impact: Translating the attitudes and experiences of care partners and persons living with dementia in Ontario into quantifiable measures
Christina Stergiou-Dayment, Ryan Salewski and Jane Rylett

BrainsCAN and the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, in cooperation with 29 individual regional Alzheimer Societies, entered into a formal partnership to quantify the impact of Alzheimer Society engagement for care partners and the broader healthcare system. This session will describe how this partnership was developed and how it ultimately led to optimizing their programs, priorities, impact areas, and providing quantitative results of success for use when soliciting funding and engaging with policymakers.
Christina Stergiou-Dayment, Senior Director of Provincial Programs & Partnerships, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Christina Stergiou-Dayment is the Senior Director of Provincial Programs & Partnerships with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario and is a Healthcare Professional with experience working across community, hospital, and long-term care sectors. Christina’s key areas of focus include healthcare management, program planning, stakeholder engagement, and evaluation. Most importantly, Christina is dedicated to promoting client-centered approaches to care with improved health outcomes and increased quality of life.
Ryan Salewski, TRIDENT - Research Program Director

Ryan has a background in neuroscience, having completed a Master's (2008) and Ph.D. (2014) from the University of Toronto, where he examined immune modulatory therapies for pediatric stroke and cell-based strategies for neural regeneration following spinal cord injury, respectively. As the Associate Director at BrainsCAN, he identifies unique opportunities, such as collaborating with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario for impact quantification.
Jane Rylett, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Aging

Dr Rylett is a cellular and molecular neurobiologist studying the consequences of age-related changes in brain and neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Rylett is recognized internationally for contributions in studies on cholinergic neurobiology and Alzheimer disease. Research in her laboratory focuses on mechanisms regulating chemical communication in the nervous system in health, normal aging and disease and the impact on cognitive function.

3.10 pm

Partnering with Biotech and Pharma
Marco Prado, Neil Cashman and Dave Muir

The session will provide an overview on pathways for collaboration with Industry. Examples of past, current and future collaborations, as well as pathways to increase productive collaborations will be described, engaging the audience in a question/discussion session.
Marco Prado, Professor of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Western University

Marco A. M. Prado, the Tier 1 CRC in Neurochemistry of Dementia, a Professor in Physiology and Anatomy & Cell Biology at The University of Western Ontario, and Deputy Editor in Chief for the Journal of Neurochemistry. He is interested in accelerating the discovery of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Neil Cashman, Founder / Chief Scientific Officer, ProMIS

Dr. Neil Cashman, is the founder and chief scientific officer of the biotech company ProMIS Neurosciences in Toronto. He is a Canadian leader in neurodegenerative diseases, specializes in protein misfolding diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and prion (infectious protein) diseases such as mad cow disease and similar human illnesses, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Dave Muir, Associate Vice-President (Innovation & Partnerships), Western University

Dave came to Western from the National Research Council, where he had been Director of Research and Development for the Automotive and Surface Transportation portfolio in London. There, he helped revitalize and grow the facility by increasing supports for the automotive and manufacturing sectors, and by driving partnerships with private and public collaborators in Canada and around the world.