Public Lectures

The Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute hosts several public lectures each year featuring a variety of neuroscience and/or mental health related topics.


Nerves, Neuropathies and Resilience: An Evening of Inspiration

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a truly inspirational evening. We will have a recording of the public lecture available next week. 

‘Nerves’ are the essential connections between the brain and the body. They allow you to feel and to move. What is not appreciated is how often nerves are damaged by injuries, disease or inflammation. Neuropathies, or disorders of nerves, are disabling problems you may not have heard about. For example, Guillain-Barré (Ghee-YAN Bah-RAY) Syndrome (GBS), a severe nerve inflammation, can cause complete and prolonged paralysis. GBS can also complicate COVID19 infections. New research and understanding of nerves may change how neuropathies are understood and how nerves may be encouraged to regenerate.

We heard from an inspiring doctor who went from being a quadriplegic to walking without aids and a brave mom who fought back against postpartum GBS. And – met the University of Alberta researchers and physicians working on new advances like electrical stimulation and new molecular treatments to promote nerve regeneration, nerve regrowth and recovery.



Moderator: Dr. Doug Zochodne

Director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, Dr. Zochodne will host the evening and talk about advances in regenerating nerves. He joined the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry in July 2014 as a professor of neurology and the director of the Division of Neurology in the Department of Medicine. His research laboratory studies new molecular approaches to regeneration and diabetic neuropathy.


Dr. Robert Agostinis

As a physician, and a patient, afflicted with a rare neuromuscular disorder, Dr. Robert Agostinis brings insight with his amazing story. He spent six months and five days in the hospital and went from being a quadriplegic to walking without aids. His sensation was the last to recover fully but he now has all of his motor function back. His rare neuromuscular disorder is called Seropositive CIDP Nodopathy (Anti-Neurofascin Syndrome).


Dr. Cecile L. Phan

Dr. Cecile Phan is a neuromuscular specialist with interests in muscle disorders, neurogenetics and inflammatory neuromuscular disorders. She is an Associate Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Medicine Department, as well as Neurology Residency Associate Program Director and Neuromuscular Fellowship Director at the U of A.


Dr. Ming Chan

Dr. Ming Chan, Professor in the Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, U of A, will talk about new methods of nerve repair - how can we get nerves to grow faster and better?  There have been new advances in nerve repair in recent years that can enhance nerve regrowth and improve function. These, along with other novel methods to boost muscle and bone health, offer hope that patients with peripheral nerve injury will have substantially better outcomes than what was previously possible.


Holly Frances

Holly Frances is an author and a GBS survivor and advocate.  As a twenty-six year old who had just given birth to her first child, Holly was diagnosed with with a severe and prolonged form of GBS. Within 72 hours of her first symptom, she was in the ICU on life support. Holly spent almost three months paralyzed from the neck down, breathing on a ventilator. But after months of hard work and rehabilitation, Holly made an almost complete recovery. She shares her very inspiring story. 


Dr. Christine Webber

Dr. Christine WebberAssociate Professor in the Division of Anatomy, U of A, will speak about how conditioning electrical stimulation accelerates nerve regeneration. Her laboratory shows that a brief, electrical stimulation to a peripheral nerve one week prior to a nerve repair surgery promotes nerve regeneration. Dr. Webber’s team and their colleagues, show that electrical stimulation is safe and does not cause inflammation, indicating it may be safe for clinical applications.



Past Public Lectures

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Past, Present, and Future
Presented by the NGSA, this online public lecture will feature three Canadian professors who will dive into the past, present, and future of the use of psychedelics in medicine, followed by an interactive panel discussion.



COVID and the Brain: Exploring the Impacts of COVID-19 on the Brain and Mental Health - December 17, 2020
NMHI researchers explore the impacts and implications of COVID-19 on the brain and mental health. From how the virus acts on the brain, to resiliency and coping mechanisms, learn the latest.

Watch the recording


Maintain Your Brain: Keys to Brain Health - October 22, 2020
Hosted by the Neuroscience Graduate Student Association. In this lecture researchers explore tools you can use to help maintain a healthy brain. From sleep, to exercise, to social engagement, learn about the latest research.

Watch the Recording