Celebrating Science, Vision, Passion


“Don’t be safe, be brilliant” a saying by philosopher George Santayana was a favourite of world-renowned scientist Dr. David Colman, late director of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre.  It captured his ethos, his approach to neuroscience, The Neuro and was his advice for the countless young students he strived to inspire. It is also the theme for The David Colman Symposium, an international scientific symposium and commemorative ceremony to be held May 16 - 17 in tribute to his exceptional contributions as a scientist, advocate, educator and mentor.

The Scientific Symposium brings together prominent international neuroscientists in the fields of neuroengineering, synaptogenesis, glia, myelin and cognition. The Commemorative Ceremony will pay hommage to Dr. Colman’s creative and generous spirit, his interests which were as vast as they were profound and above all his initiatives to inspire youth – our science leaders of tomorrow –including a fascinating 3D movie to spark excitement about the human brain and nervous system. ‘Your Brain’ is currently in development in collaboration with the National Film Board.

Dr. Colman was a leader in the field of myelin biology. His laboratory made major contributions to our understanding of how nerves are protected and nurtured by the myelin sheath in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system. His vision and drive opened up possibilities for a new neuroscience. For Dr. Colman there was major difference in planning for the future and inventing the future, and he was more interested in the latter, especially in regards to the Neuro’s unwavering mission for advancing neuroscience and for solving some of the world’s most pressing neurological problems.

The Neuro’s mission is to conduct cutting-edge neuroscience research and to provide the highest levels of advanced and compassionate care for patients with neurological conditions. As we live longer, half of the Canadians alive today will eventually experience a neurological disease within their own families, making the pioneering work at the Neuro more critical than ever.  In Dr. Colman’s own words “We are the Cirque du Soleil of science – absolutely unique in the world. We are daring, innovative and unafraid of risk or failure.  In a place like this where we rely on innovation, we don’t really know how things are going to turn out. If we knew it wouldn’t be innovative.”