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McGill Mini-Science 2012

OUCH! — The science of pain from onset to relief.

Here are short biographies for this year's Mini-Science lecturers:

Joe Schwarcz (Director, Office for Science and Society)

Joe Schwarcz

The chemical conquest of pain (March 28, 2012)

Joe Schwarcz is Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of love to the science of aging. Professor Schwarcz has received numerous awards for teaching chemistry and for interpreting science for the public, and is the only non-American ever to win the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Grady-Stack Award for demystifying chemistry. He hosts "The Dr. Joe Show" on Montreal's CJAD and has appeared hundreds of times on The Discovery Channel, CTV, CBC, TV Ontario and Global Television. Dr. Schwarcz also writes a newspaper column entitled “The Right Chemistry” and has authored a number of books, “Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful Pigs,” “The Genie in the Bottle,” "That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles," “Dr. Joe And What You Didn’t Know,” “The Fly In The Ointment” “Let Them Eat Flax” “An Apple A Day,” “Brain Fuel,” “Science, Sense and Nonsense,” “Dr. Joe’s Brain Sparks” and “Dr. Joe’s Health Lab,” all of which have made it on to the best seller list. He is also an amateur conjurer and often spices up his presentations with a little magic. Dr. Schwarcz has been awarded the 2010 Montreal Medal, which is the Canadian Chemical Institute’s premier prize recognizing lifetime contributions to chemistry in Canada. In the spring of 2011 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cape Breton University. He also holds a previous honorary degree from Athabasca University. In November of 2011 the McGill Office for Science and Society received the largest gift ever in Canadian history ($5.5 million) from philanthropist Lorne Trottier to further its work in promoting scientific education and critical thinking.

For more information about Joe Schwarcz, please visit: http://www.mcgill.ca/oss/who-we-are/joeschwarcz (This link opens in a new window.)


Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D. (Harold Griffith Professor of Anesthesia, McGill University)

Catherine Bushnell

How the mind can alter pain (April 4, 2012)

Catherine Bushnell is the Harold Griffith Professor of Anesthesia and Professor in Dentistry and Neurology at McGill University. She is President-Elect of the Canadian Pain Society and Editor-in-Chief of IASP Press. Dr. Bushnell received a PhD. in Experimental Psychology from the American University in Washington, D.C. in 1977 and postdoctoral training in neurophysiology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Her research interests include forebrain mechanisms of pain processing, psychological modulation of pain, and neural alternations in chronic pain patients. Current research projects utilize brain imaging and psychophysical testing to study the neural basis of pain processing in humans, as well as rodent behavioral testing and rodent brain imaging.

Dr. Bushnell won the Frederick Kerr Award for Basic Research in Pain from the American Pain Society in 2003 and the Distinguished Career Award from the Canadian Pain Society in 2002. In 2009, she was awarded a senior Canadian Research Chair in Clinical Pain.

Jeff Mogil, Ph.D. (Canada Research Chair in Genetics of Pain, E. P. Taylor Chair in Pain Studies, Department of Psychology, McGill University)

Jeff Mogil

Pain, friends, sex and your mother: complexity and opportunity in pain science and treatment (April 11, 2012)

Jeffrey Mogil joined McGill University in 2001. He is currently the E.P. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies and the Canada Research Chair in the Genetics of Pain. Dr. Mogil heads the Pain Genetics Lab at McGill and is working towards explaining individual differences in the sensitivity to pain, pain inhibition by analgesic drugs, and susceptibility to cronic pain pathologies. Experiments are designed to identify and characterize both genetic and environmental contributions to such individual differences, and their interaction.

Dr. Mogil has made significant contributions to the field of pain genetics. He is also a recognized authority in the fields of sex differences in pain and analgesia, and algesiometric testing in the laboratory mouse.

For more information about Jeff Mogil, please visit: www.psych.mcgill.ca/faculty/mogil.htm (This link opens in a new window.)

Jennifer Bartz, Ph.D. (Department of Psychology, McGill University)

Jennifer Bartz

Why a broken heart really does hurt (April 18, 2012)

Jennifer Bartz is interested in the factors—both individual difference and situational—that either facilitate or hinder prosocial, communal behaviours; behaviours that are vital to developing and maintaining close relationships. Her research is grounded in empirical social psychology, but she draws upon methods from neuroscience and psychopharmacology to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying prosocial behavior. Dr Bartz’s research is grounded in personality and social psychology but also draws upon clinical and neuroscience traditions. Conducting research in both healthy and clinical (autism, borderline personality disorder) populations, Dr. Bartz uses a multi-method approach involving experiential, behavioral, and biological levels of analysis.

For more information about Jennifer Bartz, please visit: www.psych.mcgill.ca/faculty/bartz.html (This link opens in a new window.)

Michael Sullivan, Ph.D. (Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Health, Department of Psychology, McGill University)

Michael Sullivan

Helping people with pain resume occupational involvement (April 25, 2012)

Michael Sullivan is currently Professor of Psychology, Medicine and Neurology at McGill University. He also holds cross-appointment with the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and is Scientific Director of the University Centre for Research on Pain and Disability. He has lectured nationally and internationally on the social and behavioral determinants of pain-related disability. He is known primarily for his research on the relation between catastrophic thinking and pain experience, and for the development of community-based approaches to the management of pain-related disability.

Dr. Sullivan developed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) in 1995. The PCS has been used in more than 600 scientific studies, has been translated into 12 languages, and is currently the most widely used measure of catastrophic thinking related to pain. Dr. Sullivan also developed the Progressive Goal Attainment Program (PGAP): the first community-based intervention program designed specifically to target psychosocial risk factors for pain-related disability.

A CD release in 1999 led to a nomination for best Country Artist at the East Coast Music Awards.

For more information about Michael Sullivan, please visit: www.psych.mcgill.ca/faculty/sullivan.html (This link opens in a new window.)

Mark A. Ware, M.D. (FRSQ Senior Clinical Research Scholar, Director of Clinical Research, Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit)

Mark Ware

Just say know: what marijuana has taught us about pain control (May 2, 2012)

Mark Ware is a family physician and is Associate Professor in Family Medicine and Anesthesia at McGill University, where he practices pain medicine at the Montreal General Hospital and the Montreal Neurological Institute. He is the Director of Clinical Research of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the McGill University Health Centre. He practices pain medicine and his primary research interests are in the therapeutic use of cannabinoids, the epidemiology of chronic pain and evaluating the use of complementary therapies in pain and symptom management. He has received the only two CIHR/Health Canada grants to study the safety and efficacy of smoked cannabis for chronic pain. Dr. Ware has published on the clinical epidemiology of cannabis use for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS, and has presented his work as invited speaker and at workshops and symposia at major international conferences.

For more information about Mark Ware, please visit: www.mcgill.ca/centreformeded/aboutus/whoweare/members/warem (This link opens in a new window.)

Petra Schweinhardt, Ph.D. (Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, and Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University)

Petra Schweinhardt

The pain-reward connection (May 9, 2012)

Petra Schweinhardt is an Assistant Professor at the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain at McGill University.

Dr. Schweinhardt's primary research is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the cerebral mechanisms of pain and pain modulation in health and disease, using neuro-psycho-pharmacological and brain imaging techniques, with a particular interest in the alterations that occur in the central nervous system of chronic pain patients; how these alterations interact with endogenous pain mechanisms and how they contribute to the generation and maintenance of chronic pain.

Some ongoing projects include the role of dopamine for pain processing in health and disease, the impact of brain alterations on pain inhibition and cognitive function in fibromyalgia, and the importance of emotional memory processes for the generation and maintenance of chronic pain.

For more information about Petra Schweinhardt, please visit: www.mcgill.ca/dentistry/research/our-researchers/schweinhardt (This link opens in a new window.)