Neuroscience Research Program

In the News

Stroke survivors more likely to make driving mistakes

Drivers who have had recent strokes are more likely to make errors during complex driving tasks than drivers who have not had strokes, according to two studies that St. Michael’s Hospitalresearchers presented Feb 11 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2015. Check out the full story at the St. Michael's News Room 

Posted on February 11, 2015
Neuroscience Research Rounds: Feb 27th @ 9AM (LKS 216) - Dr. Benoit Mulsant - Can a combination of brain stimulation and cognitive remediation prevent Alzheimer's disease?

You are invited to the Neuroscience Research RoundsFeb 27th 2015 in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute – RM 216 at 9:00AM-10:00AM.

Presenter: Dr. Benoit Mulsant  (CAMH)

Title: "Can a combination of brain stimulation and cognitive remediation prevent Alzheimer's disease?"  

Date: Friday, Feb 27, 2015

Time:  9:00-10:00 am

Where: 209 Victoria St., 2nd floor, RM 216 

Please share this notice with researchers, clinicians, students and hospital staff who might be interested in learning about neuroscience research. 

  *coffee and snacks will be provided



Posted on January 26, 2015
Neuroscience Research Rounds: Nov. 4 @ 9AM (LKS 241/240) - Dr. Jeffrey Saver & Dr. Nerses Sanossian

Neuroscience Research Rounds, held in conjunction with the University of Toronto Stroke Program, on Tue. Nov.4 in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute – RM 240/241 at 9:00AM-10:30AM.

Presenters: Dr. Jeffrey Saver & Dr. Nerses Sanossian

Title: The Future of Acute Stroke Treatment: Fast and Furious

When: Tuesday, Nov 4, 2014; 9:00am-10:30 AM

Where: 209 Victoria St., 2nd floor, LKS240/241

Posted on October 29, 2014
“Watson, Brain-CODE, and links in the cloud: Are we ready to build a health data resource for humankind?”

Title: Watson, Brain-CODE, and links in the cloud: Are we ready to build a health data resource for humankind?

Who: Dr. Kenneth R Evans

Where: Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Room 241

When: Oct 27th@ 12PM


Posted on October 21, 2014
Inside the St. Michael's operating room as an Ontario woman undergoes brain surgery while awake

Dr. Sunit Das and the team at St. Michael's Hospital have developed a new protocol to make longer awake brain surgery possible.  Full aricle at The Globe and Mail.

Posted on October 6, 2014
2015 Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Research Competition

The Alzheimer Society of Canada is committed to  furthering the awareness and the use of research results, by policy makers, health care administrators, clinicians, and the public. 

Key dates:
Launch of competition Friday, September 26, 2014, 9 am ET
Application deadline Friday, November 28, 2014, 11:59 pm ET
Announcement of results April 2015

How to apply:

Posted on September 29, 2014
Heads Up Conference 2014

In 2011, Dr. Michael Cusimano and the Injury Prevention Research Office (IPRO) at St. Michael’s Hospital started a conference aimed at getting the general public to understand the latest research in the field of brain injuries and concussions.  

This 2014 conference will examine the issues surrounding concussion and brain injuries with a wider lens. From the medical, social, and psychiatric management of patients to the perspectives of referees, schools, and the government, we will aim to better understand how to improve prevention, diagnoses, and treatment of head injuries

Join @SportsWkndScott@StMikesHospital@headsup_con on Sept. 27 for a #concussion conference!! More info & to RSVP:

Posted on September 19, 2014
Researcher probes driving and dementia using brain scans

Dr. Tom Schweizer wants you to imagine for a moment that your are elderly, live in rural Ontario, and that your driver's license has been taken away due to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Schweizer believes people with Alzheimer's who are unfit to drive should lose their license. But he also believes some people with early stage Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment can drive safely. 

Check out the interview below:

Full Story at the Alzheimer Society website.

Posted on September 2, 2014
Poker and marketing strategies might help doctors think better

Stroke doctors might be wise to think about poker players and marketers before making medical decisions, according to an article published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

“Sadly, more research has gone into how decisions are made when people gamble or buy a car than it has to discovering how doctors make complex decisions,” said Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, lead author and director of the Stroke Research Unit of St. Michael's Hospital. “I think if doctors better understand a poker player’s betting strategy or the psychology behind a salesman’s tactics, it might change their decision-making process. Doctors might be more encouraged to use tools that would help them make quick, accurate, unbiased decisions when facing difficult clinical scenarios.”

Check out the full story at the St. Michael's Newsroom

Posted on June 3, 2014
Aggressive pituitary adenomas-diagnosis and emerging treatments

Pituitary tumors are frequently occurring in approximately 20% of the population and representing 15% of intracranial tumors. They are generally benign and can be asymptomatic or cause endocrinologic and/or neurologic dysfunction. Although considered benign, some pituitary adenomas invade neighboring structures including the brain. Some pituitary adenomas grow rapidly, recur frequently and are resistant to medical treatment as well as radiotherapy. At present, there are no clear criteria to define aggressiveness in pituitary tumors. To find a definitive diagnosis of aggressiveness is important because patients with aggressive pituitary tumors should undergo strict follow-up and receive adequate therapy. The authors highlighted the importance to develop new markers for the early detection of aggressive pituitary tumors and have focused on the importance of the interdisciplinary collaboration between neurosurgeons, pathologists, endocrinologists and radiation oncologists in determining the most appropriate treatment options available for these patients.

Read the full article.

Posted on May 14, 2014
Study finds almost half of homeless men had traumatic brain injury in their lifetime, vast majority before they lost their homes

Almost half of all homeless men who took part in a study by St. Michael’s Hospital had suffered at least one traumatic brain injury in their life and 87 per cent of those injuries occurred before the men lost their homes.

While assaults were a major cause of those traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, (60 per cent) many were caused by potentially non-violent mechanisms such as sports and recreation (44 per cent) and motor vehicle collisions and falls (42 per cent).

The study, led by Dr. Jane Topolovec-Vranic, a clinical researcher in the hospital’s Neuroscience Research Program, was published today in the journal CMAJ Open.

Check out the full story at the St. Michael's Newsroom

Posted on April 25, 2014
Breakfast of Our Champions Event (Submission deadline May 15, 2014).

Posted on April 22, 2014
Ontario Brain Institute Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative Integrated Discovery Program

The Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative (ONDRI) Integrated Discovery Program is a research-based innovative initiative designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of all neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration and Vascular Cognitive Impairment). The program's mandate is to ensure that discoveries are transformed into new diagnostics, treatments and improved clinical practice. The emphasis is on translational science and a province-wide collaboration between Ontario's world-class neurodegenerative disease researchers and clinicians, patient advocacy groups and the industrial sector. This collaborative initiative is bridging the translational gap and standardizing patient assessments and treatments across neurodegenerative diseases.

Check out YouTube to learn more about the ONDRI Program.  

Posted on April 16, 2014
Popular Science Lecture: Acute Brain Injury
Date: April 17, noon to 1 p.m.
Where:  216 LKSKI
Speaker:  Dr. Airton Leonardo de Oliveira Manoel
Posted on April 16, 2014
Teenagers who have had a concussion also have higher rates of suicide attempts, being bullied and high-risk behavior, study finds

Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion are at “significantly greater odds” of attempting suicide, being bullied and engaging in a variety of high risk behaviours, a new study has found.

Check out the full story at the St. Michael's Newsroom

Posted on April 16, 2014
Brainstorming in Dr. Andrew Bakers lab

What do angioplasty patients from the 1990s, some elite Canadian swimmers and rats in Dr. Andrew Baker’s lab have in common?

They’ve all been exposed to something called pre-conditioning.

The general idea of pre-conditioning is that exposing a patient to a minor injury, such as ischemia, make them better able to tolerate the real injury they receive later.

Check out the full story at the St. Michael's Newsroom.

Dr. Baker has also just received a $100,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to develop a blood-based test to determine whether a person exposed to a blast has suffered mild traumatic brain injury.

Posted on March 10, 2014
More study needed on the effects of heading in soccer

Soccer is the most-popular and fastest-growing sport in the world and, like many contact sports, players are at risk of suffering concussions from collisions on the field.

Dr. Tom Schweizer and researchers warned in a paper published today that not enough attention has been given to the unique aspect of soccer – the purposeful use of the head to control the ball – and the long-term consequences of repetitive heading.  

Check out the full article at the St. Michael's Newsroom.

Posted on February 10, 2014
NHL teams pay more than $650 million to injured players over three years: Concussions the most expensive

Most successful businesses would not accept spending $218 million on lost time, but that's the amount NHL owners pay out every year to players who miss games due to injury, according to new research.

Dr. Cusimano’s research team, looked at the types of injuries and the location they're sustained to determine the most costly hockey injuries. Time lost to concussions alone accounted for $42.8 million each year.  

Check out the full article at the St. Michael's Newsroom.

Posted on January 29, 2014
Brain Rest After Concussion

Dr. Michael Cusimano says that children need to rest their brain after a concussion and should not go back to normal activities right away.  Check out the full CTV News interview.

Posted on January 7, 2014
Recently Released Neuroscinece Funding Opportunities

Department of Defense - Vision Research Program Hypothesis Development Award

  • The Hypothesis Development Award (HDA) mechanism supports conceptually innovative, high-risk/high-reward research that could ultimately lead to critical discoveries or major advancements that will drive the field of vision research forward.
  • Research projects should include a testable hypothesis based on a strong scientific rationale.
  • HDA is designed to support innovative ideas with the potential to yield impactful data and new avenues of investigation in the areas of:

-       Mitigation and treatment of traumatic injuries, war-related injuries, and diseases to ocular structures and the visual system

-       Mitigation and treatment of visual dysfunction associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI)

-       Vision restoration following traumatic injury

Pre-Application Deadline: 5:00 p.m. Eastern time (ET), November 25, 2013

Application Submission Deadline: 11:59 p.m. ET, February 6, 2014

For more information:


Department of Defense - Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program 

TBI Endpoints Development Award:  Supports the establishment of a collaborative, multidisciplinary research team to advance endpoints for use in trials involving diagnosis and treatment of mild to moderate TBI (mTBI to modTBI).  

Pre-Application Deadline: Dec. 6, 2013.

For more information:


Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute - Knowledge to Action

  • This grant program is designed to support primary knowledge translation (KT) research projects  in behavioural and psychosocial sciences that build on existing cancer research findings and aim to improve outcomes and experiences through KT for people and populations at risk, patients, their families and communities across the cancer trajectory.
  • Budgets awarded to a maximum of $100,000 to be spent over one or two years. 

Abstract Deadline: Dec. 15, 2013

Application Deadline: Feb. 1, 2014 

For more information:


Brain Canada - Multi-Investigator Research Initiative (MIRI) Sponsored Opportunity

  • Supported by the Canada Brain Research Fund, the purpose of MIRI grants is to accelerate novel and transformative research that will fundamentally change our understanding of nervous system function and dysfunction and their impact on health.
  • The ultimate goal is to reduce the social and economic burden of neurological and mental health problems by prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Total Funding: Brain Canada’s MIRI grants are for three years and usually provide up to $500,000 a year for a total of $1.5 M, however 50% of the requested project budget must be provided by a sponsor identified by the research team.

LOI Deadline: Feb. 10 2014

Application Deadline: Jun. 30 2014

For more information:

Posted on November 15, 2013
The nature of severe trauma is changing...

Check out Dr. Andrew Baker's interview in the Toronto Star as he talks about the changes in neurocritical care.  

Posted on October 29, 2013
Study finds social, economic status impact mortality rates for certain stroke in U.S., but not Canada, suggesting universal health insurance plays role

Americans in the highest socio-economic groups have a 13 per cent greater chance of surviving a kind of stroke known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage than those in the lowest socio-economic groups, a new study has found.  However, social and economic status have no bearing on mortality rates for subarachnoid hemorrhages, or SAH, in Canada, according to the study led by Dr. Loch Macdonald, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.  

Check out the St. Michael's Newsroom for more information

Posted on September 27, 2013
Research on Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Dr. Macdonald talks about the innovative research exploring SAH at St. Michael's Hospital.

Dr. Loch Macdonald is the head of neurosurgery at St. Michael's Hospital and Stroke Lead in the Neuroscience Research Program

Posted on September 27, 2013
Concussion guidelines to help adults manage persistent symptoms, resume life

A new set of guidelines, published by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, will help primary health care providers treat and manage post-concussion symptoms that hang on months after an injury.  The guidelines were developed by a committee that included Dr. Donna Ouchterlony, head of the Head Injury Clinic at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Guidelines for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Persistent Symptoms (2nd Edition) uses significantly updated evidence to support health-care providers who are helping their adult patients return to normal daily life. 

Check out the St. Michael's Newsroom for more information.

Posted on September 24, 2013
Study finds racial and ethnic differences in outcomes following a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH)

A recent  paper by Dr. R. Loch Macdonald, world leader in subarachnoid hemorrhage research, found that race and ethnicity in the USA can be a significant factor in the outcomes after a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Check out the St. Michael's Newsroom for more information.

Posted on September 10, 2013
Art opens the mind and preserves artistic skills despite the onset of vascular dementia in the remarkable case of a Canadian sculptor

The ability to draw spontaneously as well as from memory may be preserved in the brains of artists long after the deleterious effects of vascular dementia have diminished their capacity to complete simple, everyday tasks, according to a new study by physicians at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The finding, released in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, looked at the last few years of the late Mary Hecht, an internationally renowned sculptor, who was able to draw spur-of-the moment and detailed sketches of faces and figures, including from memory, despite an advanced case of vascular dementia.

Check out the St. Michael's Newsroom for more information.

Posted on August 23, 2013
Heads Up Conference 2013

St. Michael's Hospital is hosting the third annual concussion conference now entitled, Heads Up Conference: Talks focused on Concussions and Mental Health. The mandate of Heads Up is to raise awareness about the mechanisms and outcomes surrounding concussions to all sports and to generate discussion around the ways in which head injuries can be prevented.  

DATE: September 14, 2013

TIME: 8:30AM – 12:30PM

LOCATION: Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, 209 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario

Register and view conference agenda 

Posted on August 21, 2013
St. Michaels reports only second known case of patient developing synesthesia as a result of a brain injury

The Toronto patient is only the second known person to have acquired synesthesia as a result of a brain injury, in this case a stroke. His case was described in the August issue of the journal Neurology by Dr. Tom Schweizer, a neuroscientist and director of the Neuroscience Research Program at St. Michael’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

Dr. Schweizer examined the patient’s brain activity in a functional MRI and compared it to six men of similar age (45) and education (18 years) as each listened to the James Bond Theme and a euphonium solo.

When the James Bond Theme was played, large areas of the patient’s brain lit up including the thalamus (the brain’s information switchboard), the hippocampus (which deals with memory and spatial navigation) and the auditory cortex (which processes sound).

Check out the St. Michaels Newsroom for interviews and Synesthesia FAQ.

Posted on July 30, 2013
Study finds NHL headshot rule not working

Research led by Dr. Michael Cusimano shows concussions have actually risen since new rules went into effect three years ago.  For more information visit the Toronto Star article or download the paper here.

Posted on July 18, 2013
Congratulations to Dr. David Munoz for receiving an award from the Society of Neurology in Spain

Neurodegenerative/MS Co - Lead, Dr. David Munoz,  has won an award from the Society of Neurology for his research on Alzheimer's.

Posted on July 17, 2013
What happens when dementia and delusions combine?

Dr. Corinne Fischer and her team are investigating if Alzheimer's disease and delusions combined to make it harder to perform daily tasks most of us take for granted.  Read more about Dr. Corinne Fischer's research on the Alzheimer Society of Canada website.

Dr. Fischer is a  geriatric psychiatrist, Director of the St. Michael's Memory Clinic, and Co-Lead for the Neurodegenerative / MS Research Program

Posted on July 11, 2013
What is a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH)?

Check out Dr. Loch Macdonald talking about the devastating effects of SAH and what clinical / treatment options are available at St. Michael's Hospital. 

Dr. Loch Macdonald is the head of neurosurgery at St. Michael's Hospital and Stroke Lead in the Neuroscience Research Program

Posted on July 8, 2013
One in five students in Grades 7-12 say they have had a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime

One in five adolescents surveyed in Ontario said they have suffered a traumatic brain injury that left them unconscious for five minutes or required them to be hospitalized overnight, a statistic researchers in Toronto say is much higher than previously thought.  For more info on this study click here.

Posted on June 27, 2013
June is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Some facts:
Brain injuries cost Canadians $3 billion annually
• 53 per cent of Toronto’s homeless population has suffered a traumatic brain injury
• Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of child death and disability
• 27,000 Ontario schoolchildren have suffered a brain injury
• 44 per cent of prisoners have a history of traumatic brain injuries
Posted on June 14, 2013
Study Finds Newspapers Have Changed Coverage of Ice Hockey Concussions Over Last Quarter-Century

Newspapers are paying more attention to the severity and long-term impact of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries in ice hockey than they did 25 years ago, a new study has found.  READ MORE.

Posted on April 25, 2013
Research Finds Brain Can Not Cope With Making a Left-Hand Turn and Talking on Hands-Free Cell Phone at the Same Time

Most serious traffic accidents occur when drivers are making a left-hand turn at a busy intersection. When those drivers are also talking on a hands-free cell phone, “that could be the most dangerous thing they ever do on the road,” said Dr. Tom Schweizer, a researcher at St. Michael’s. READ MORE.

Posted on March 5, 2013
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