Pathways and Connections Discussion Series

What is Pathways and Connections?

How does one become successful after Graduate Studies in Neuroscience?

This informal round-table series will address this question through a series of conversations with individuals with a background in neuroscience who have gone on to successful careers: either as researchers who are currently affiliated with McGill University's Integrated Program in Neuroscience, or former McGill Neuroscience Alumni who are now successful in the non-academic world. This is your chance to talk to them about the often circuitous pathways and the important, but often serendipitous, connections that led them to where they are now. For more information, or to RSVP for an upcoming event, please contact zografos.caramanos [at] (Zografos Caramanos).

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events are planned.

Past Events

Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 5:30 pm, Neuro 124: The husband and wife team of Dr. Andrea Bernasconi, Associate Professor of Neurology, and Dr. Neda Ladbon-Bernasconi, Assistant Professor of Neurology, are both neurologists and epileptologists at the Montreal Neurological Institute.  Together, they run the Neuroimaging of Epilepsy Lab (NOEL) in the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre.  


Their lab provides a unique environment fostering links between graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in Neuroscience, Computer Science, Engineering, and Neurology. This multidisciplinary environment has put NOEL in a unique position to generate a wide range of research perspectives and to develop novel methods of investigation that can directly impact the management and quality of care of patients with epilepsy.  Their research combines structural and functional MRI with statistical modeling. They use advanced morphometric (anatomical) and functional MRI (including resting-state fMRI) to assess cortical architecture, function, and plasticity in a search for endophenotypes and biomarkers of epileptogenesis. Main topics include automated lesion detection through computational modeling and machine learning, subcortical and cortical brain segmentation, analysis of brain networks based on graph-theoretical methods and independent component analysis. They are interested in tracking disease progression and its consequences on brain plasticity, connectivity and cognition. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 5:30 pm, Neuro 124:  Dr. Thien Thanh Dang-Vu is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Imaging in Concordia's Department of Exercise Science, and currently a CIHR New Investigator and an FRQS Research Scholar.  He is also an attending neurologist and a researcher at the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, affiliated with the University of Montreal.  


Dr. Dang-Vu earned his M.D. at the Université de Liège, in Belgium. He completed his residency in Neurology and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science in the same university. Dr. Dang-Vu did a post-doctoral fellowship in the department of Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He then completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Advanced Research in Sleep Medicine at the Université de Montreal and Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, where he was awarded a Banting postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Dang-Vu won several research awards, notably from the Sleep Research Society, the European Sleep Research Society, the Belgian Association for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, and the Belgian Neurological Society. He joined Concordia and the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology in 2012, as an Assistant Professor, and also holds a position of Associate Researcher at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal.  His research interests are focused on the interface between neuroimaging, sleep, and neurology, in order to investigate the neural correlates of spontaneous brain activity and consciousness, the role of sleep in brain plasticity, the pathophysiology of sleep disorders, and the clinical biomarkers of neurological disease progression.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 5:30 pm, Neuro 124:  Dr. Sylvain BailletAssociate Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, Interim Director of the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre Founding Director of MEG Research and Founding Director of MEG Research at the Neuro, and Director of the Dynamic Neuroimaging Lab (neuroSPEED)


Dr. Baillet is a physicist with research interests in methodological developments for functional and structural brain imaging and their application to clinical and cognitive neuroscience. Although his primary expertise is with MEG imaging, he has also contributed new techniques for MRI image segmentation and inter-subject registration, and, using using diffusion-weighted MR sequences, he initiated new image analysis techniques for the early prediction of infarct growth in stroke patients.  His current research projects with MEG include real-time therapeutic imaging, the evaluation of resting-state brain activity and connectivity in the healthy and diseased brain, and the development of original data mining and visualization techniques for time-resolved brain image series. He has also great interest in disseminating his research through academic software and is a founding developer of the Brainstorm open-source software project for MEG and EEG imaging with MRI integration.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 5:30 pm, Neuro Bell Room:  Dr. Guy Rouleau, the new Director of The Neuro, comes to us from the Université de Montréal, where he was Director of the CHU Ste-Justine Research Centre and founder and Director of the Centre of Excellence in Neuroscience.


There he held the Canada Research Chair in Genetics of the Nervous System as well as the Jeanne-et-J.-Louis-Levesque Chair in Genetics of Brain Diseases. Dr. Rouleau is also Director of the Réseau de Médecine Génétique Appliquée – Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé.  Dr. Rouleau obtained his MD (Magna Cum Laude) in 1980 from the University of Ottawa and his PhD in Genetics at Harvard University in 1989. His post-graduate research in neuroscience was conducted at the Montreal Neurological Institute and at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Rouleau conducted his clinical training in internal medicine at the Montreal General Hospital, neurology residency at the Montreal Neurological Institute, and research fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  Dr. Rouleau’s landmark achievements are his contributions to the identification of over 20 disease-causing genes and his discovery of new mutational mechanisms. Over the last 20 years, Dr. Rouleau and his team have focused on understanding the genetic basis for diseases and identifying genes causing neurological and psychiatric diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, Essential Tremor, familial aneurysms, cavernous angiomas, epilepsy, spinocerebellar ataxia, spastic paraplegia, autism, Tourette syndrome, restless legs syndrome, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 5:30 pm, Neuro 124:  Dr. Bernard Brais is a neurologist, co-director of the neuromuscular group of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, and Director of the CHUM Ataxia Centre.


He completed his multidisciplinary training in neurology, genetics, and history of medicine and has since then devoted his career to the advancement of knowledge with respect to the genesis of Quebec’s genetic heritage and its influence on health. His research program integrates the more general concerns about regional genetic heritages and their influence on the variable frequencies of mutation carriers, with an increasing focus on disorders with ataxic manifestations such as Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS). Dr. Brais has also played important roles in identifying causal genes for Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD), Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia with frequent Leukoencephalopathy (ARSAL), Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy type II (HSANII), Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy with Quadriceps atrophy (LGMD2L), and Pol III-related leukodystrophies. At the CHUM Ataxia Clinic and other clinics, Dr. Brais follows more than 700 ataxic patients.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 5:30 pm, Neuro 124: Dr. Amit Bar-Or, is a neurologist and neuro-immunologist who conducts laboratory research directed at understanding principles of immune regulation including B cell, T cell, and APC interactions, as well as how these might relate to inflammatory neurological diseases (primarily multiple sclerosis). 


A strong interface with neuroscience laboratories provides his group opportunities to investigate principles of immune-neural interactions and their relevance to CNS injury, repair and regeneration. Dr Bar-Or coordinates several multi-center research studies in multiple sclerosis including a CIHR new emerging team (NET) in autoimmunity that studies similarities and differences in pathophysiology of different human autoimmune diseases in children and adults.  Another focus of Dr. Bar-Or's research relates to the investigation of novel therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and to the development and application of biological assays to monitor the disease process and to evaluate response to treatment. He is Coordinator of the MNI’s Clinical Research Unit, and established and directs the Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP). The ETP’s mission is to enhance translational activities by helping to bridge basic research in neurobiology and immunology with human studies of neurological and neuro-immune diseases. The ETP emphasizes development and application of novel biological assays with respect to clinical trials of experimental therapeutics. This approach provides a unique opportunity to gain insights into disease mechanisms and to develop biomarkers of response to therapy, while also evaluating the safety and efficacy of novel therapies.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Dr. Edward Fon is a neurologist and scientist at the Neuro who serves as the Director of the McGill Parkinson Program, a National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence.  


His research focuses on the molecular events leading to the degeneration of dopamine neurons in Parkinson's disease. In the past decade, several genes have been identified that cause some forms of the disease. He is particularly interested in how these genes come together and interact to cause Parkinson's disease. His work focuses on one of these genes, Parkin, which functions as a key enzyme in the main protein degradation pathway in the cell. This pathway utilizes ubiquitin, a protein that can mark target proteins for degradation. The Fon Lab works on understanding the various functions of ubiquitin in the nervous system and on how defects in parkin could lead to Parkinson’s disease. This work could provide important clues about the mechanisms of dopamine neuron death in Parkinson’s disease and potentially lead to innovative new therapeutic strategies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Dr. Petra Schweinhardt received her MD from Ruprecht-Karls-University in 2000 and her PhD from the Pain Imaging Neuroscience Group at Oxford University in 2006. She is currently an Assistant Professor at McGill University's Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain. Her research is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the cerebral mechanisms of pain and pain modulation in health and disease, using neuropsychopharmacological and brain imaging techniques. She is particularly interested in the alterations that occur in the central nervous system of chronic pain patients; how these alterations interact with endogenous pain facilitatory or inhibitory circuitry and consequently contribute to the generation and maintenance of chronic pain. Her ongoing projects include: (i) The role of dopamine for pain processing in health and disease; (ii) the impact of brain alterations on pain inhibitory capacity and cognitive function in fibromyalgia; and (iii) the importance of emotional memory processes for the generation and maintenance of chronic pain.


Thursday, November 8th, 2012: Dr. Laura S. Stone received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota in 1999. As a post-doctoral trainee at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, she was the first recipient of the John J. Bonica Post-Doctoral Training Fellowship from the International Association for the Study of Pain. Following a brief interlude in biotechnology (2001-2002) she returned to the University of Minnesota as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience in 2002 and joined the Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, as an Assistant Professor in 2007. Dr. Stone is an inventor on 7 patents, has been funded by both NIH and CIHR (Canadian Institutes for Health Research), co-authored over 30 manuscripts, and was awarded the 2006 Early Career Award from the American Pain Society. The Stone Pain Lab aims to improve diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain by expanding our understanding of its neurochemistry and neuropathology.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012: Dr. Jean-Francois Cloutier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery and an Associate Member in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology (both at McGill University), and he is a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurobiology. The Cloutier Lab aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that control axonal pathfinding during development of the nervous systems. They use a combination of in vivo mouse genetic models and molecular biological approaches to identify cues involved in guiding axons of primary sensory neurons to their targets and to characterize intracellular signals that function downstream of these axon guidance cues. Gaining insight into the basic mode of action of guidance molecules will be important in the future development of therapies for neurological disorders and injuries requiring regeneration of specific axonal connections.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012: Dr. Phil Barker is a molecular biologist and biochemist at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) as well as a Professor in the Departments of Neurology & Neurosurgery and Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University. He is also currently the Interim Director of the MNI. Dr. Barker was raised in British Columbia and obtained his BSc from Simon Fraser University. The Barker Lab studies cellular decisions that regulate life and death decisions in the normal and damaged nervous system and in cancer. They combine genetics with cell and molecular biology to study and decipher conserved intracellular pathways in model systems ranging from flies to rodents.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012: Dr. Maria Natasha Rajah is a Researcher in the Geriatric Psychiatry Program and Director of the Brain Imaging Centre (both at the Douglas Institute); she is also an Associate Professor in McGill's Department of Psychiatry. The Rajah Lab uses brain imaging to examine the neural substrates of learning and memory in healthy young adults. It also aims to understand how normal ageing and various forms of dementia affect these substrates and mnemonic abilities.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012: Dr. Alyson Fournier is a biologist who conducts research into the mechanisms that inhibit neuron regeneration following disease or injury. She is currently an Associate Professor in McGill University's Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery and currently holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Regenerative Neuroscience. The Fournier Lab is aimed at identifying and targeting signalling pathways taken by inhibitors as they converge and form blockages to neuron re-growth. Dr. Fournier is also studying the effects of myelin inhibitors on gene expression as a means of identifying the genes involved in neuronal pathways. The aim of Dr. Fournier's research program is to develop a better understanding of the molecular components participating in neurite outgrowth and growth cone collapse. She is particularly interested in studying rho family GTPases and their downstream effectors due to their effects on the actin cytoskeleton. A fuller understanding of the mechanism of outgrowth inhibition will be used to develop strategies to promote regenerative growth.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012: Dr. Lesley Fellows is an Associate Professor in, and the Interim Chair of, the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University and a neurologist at The Neuro. She is a recognized expert in the field of cognitive neuroscience, with investigations that focus on the brain basis of decision making and is also interested in the role of the frontal lobes in the regulation of emotion, the expression of personality traits, and the representation of past and future information. She is also an Associate Member in the Departments of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Psychology, and she is Co-Director of the MD-PhD program for McGill's Faculty of Medicine.


Thursday, December 15, 2011: Dr. Daniel Auld is currently the Deputy Director of the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre. After completing a BA in Psychology from York University in Toronto, he recieved his PhD from McGill's Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery in 2001 before completing two postdoctoral fellowships: the first with Dr. Richard Robitaille in the Department of Physiology at University of Montreal, and the second with Dr. Phil Barker at the MNI studying p75, lingo and other protein interactions. In 2004, he joined Painceptor Pharma Corp. as an NGF biochemist/pharmacologist and quickly assumed the role of Group Leader for their NGF drug discovery program. Wanting to explore the business side of research, in 2007 he joined Allied Research International (later Cetero Research, a US based contract research organization) as Associate Director of Business Development. In 2009,he assumed leadership of the Phase 2-4 business development team as Senior Director responsible for approximately $30M worth of research contracts per year; he was also Senior Scientific Liaison, helping Pharma, Biotech and Device clients design clinical studies. After realizing that clinical research was more about organization than creativity, and that he no longer enjoyed the pure business side of things, he is now very happy to be back at McGill.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011: Dr. Nicolas Cermakian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and a Researcher at the Douglas Institute. He is also the Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Chronobiology, which uses a combination of molecular, behavioural and immunological techniques to study the molecular mechanisms involved in mammalian circadian clocks as well as the circadian control of physiological processes by the circadian system, in rodents and humans. 

Poster: November 9th, 2011  Pathways_and_Connections_Poster_-_Nicolas_Cermakian.pdf


Wednesday, October 12, 2011: Dr. David Ragsdale is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute. He is also Chair of Basis of Medicine (Unit 1), Associate Director of the McGill Integrated Program in Neuroscience, and a member of the Faculty Development Team. Dr. Ragsdale's research investigates ion channels, the proteins responsible for the electrical properties of nerve and muscle cells as well as the relationship between basic cellular processes in the nervous system and complex phenomena like consciousness and volition. He is also strongly interested in the development of educational programs in neurology. 

Poster: October 12th, 2011 Pathways_and_Cconnections_Poster_-_David_Ragsdale.pdf


Wednesday, April 20, 2011: Dr. Alain Dagher is a neurologist specializing in movement disorders and functional brain imaging, his research aims at understanding the function of the basal ganglia, with a particular emphasis on appetitive behaviours. This involves studying how we learn about rewards and punishments, and become motivated to engage in reward-seeking behaviour. 

Poster: April 20th, 2011 Pathways_and_Connections_poster_- Alain_Dagher.pdf


Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Dr. Ed Ruthazer is an Assistant Professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute for the last 6 years, where he is a Killam Fellow and holds the Canada Research Chair in Neuronal Circuit Development. The Ruthazer Lab uses in vivo imaging and electrophysiology to study how sensory experience controls circuit refinement in the visual system. 

Poster: March 23rd, 2011 Pathways and Connections - Ed Ruthazer [.pdf]


Monday, February 7, 2011: Dr. David Colman. Until he passed away in June 2011, Dr. Colman was the Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute; he held the Penfield Chair in Neuroscience at McGill University and a Tier I Canada Research Chair; he also directed a successful laboratory that studied the interactions between cell-adhesion molecules and examined how synapses are formed in the central nervous system.

Poster: February 7th, 2011 Pathways and Connections - David Colman [.pdf]