Health Innovation Series

Window to the Brain

Window to the Brain Logo

Health Innovation Series – Toronto Edition

Window to the Brain

It’s one of the most critical organs in the human body — and when it fails, it can leave us lost in our daily lives. Join us for Window to the Brain, an in-depth look at the complex biological force that guides each of us through the world.

Experts from the Faculties of Science, Arts and Applied Health Sciences will share their insights into the human brain, the consequences of disease and injury, and the hope that lies in both treatment and the brain’s ability to adapt.

Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 6-9 p.m.

Manulife | 200 Bloor St. E.  M4W 1E6

$15 per person (includes hors d’oeuvres and refreshments).
Guests welcome.

Thank you to our affinity partner and venue sponsor, Manulife, for generously supporting this event.



Refund policy: If you require a refund please contact us at: or 519-888-4973. Refunds will be given up to 5 days prior to the event start date.

What is the dress code for the event? Alumni networking events are business casual.

Moderator and panelists


Ben Thompson (Moderator), Professor & Associate Director

School of Optometry & Vision Science

Ben is a Professor and the Associate Director of Research within the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Waterloo. Ben holds a BSc and DPhil in experimental psychology from the University of Sussex. He completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Psychology, UCLA, and the Department of Ophthalmology, McGill University. Ben became a faculty member within the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Auckland in 2008, where he retains a research position. He moved to the University of Waterloo in 2014. Ben’s research involves the use of psychophysics, non-invasive brain stimulation and magnetic resonance imaging to investigate development and plasticity of the human visual system.



Melanie Campbell (MSc ’77), Professor

Physics and Astronomy and School of Optometry and Vision Science

Melanie Campbell earned a BSc in Chemical Physics, Victoria College, University of Toronto; an MSc in Physics, University of Waterloo; and, from the Australian National University, a PhD in Applied Mathematics and Physiology. Following a CSIRO Fellowship at the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics in Canberra, Campbell returned to Canada with an NSERC University Research Fellowship.

Prof. Campbell collaborated in the first real-time images of cone photoreceptors, using adaptive optics, and she uses polarization imaging to make invisible structures visible. Imaging applications include a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease, using the retina as a window on the brain. She undertakes research on the optical quality of the eye and improved imaging of its structures. She studies eye development, eye disease and linear and nonlinear optics of the eye. Campbell is known for her work on the gradient index optics of the crystalline lens, its changes with ageing and effects of visual experience on its refractive index distribution. Recently she has discovered putative optical signals to guide eye growth which follow a circadian rhythm.

Campbell is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a former member of OSA’s Board of Directors, and is a former President of the Canadian Association of Physicists. Campbell was a co-founder of Biomedical Photometrics Inc, now Huron Technologies, and co-founded LumeNeuro. Campbell shared the 2004 Rank Prize in Optoelectronics for her work cited as "an initial idea (that) has been carried through to practical applications that have, or will, demonstrably benefit mankind." In 2014, she was awarded the CAP INO Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Photonics in recognition of her contributions to the field of visual optics and improved imaging of structures within the eye. In 2015, she was awarded the OCUFA Status of Women Award of Distinction for her work to improve the position of academic women through organizational, policy and educational leadership.



James Danckert, Professor, Cognitive Neuroscience Research Area Head

Faculty of Arts, Psychology

James Danckert trained as a Clinical Neuropsychologist at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia, before completing his PhD there in 2000. He came to Canada to do a Postdoctoral Fellowship under Professor Mel Goodale at Western before taking up a Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo in 2002. James has studied a broad swathe of questions from how the brain controls attention to the neural correlates of consciousness. His work has included patients with Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and a variety of neurological syndromes including the neglect syndrome in which patients behave as though one half of the world has simply ceased to exist. He makes use of behavioural studies and a range of neuroimaging techniques including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

More recently, James has turned his research focus to the study of boredom! What are the behavioural consequences of being bored, how does brain injury influence boredom and what are the healthy brain states - visualized through the use of fMRI - associated with this ubiquitous human experience? Boredom is elevated after traumatic brain injury and is higher in people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Understanding boredom then, has consequences for how we successfully engage with the world.



W. Richard Staines, Professor, Associate Dean, Research

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Kinesiology

Professor Staines’ research interests focus on understanding: 1) how the brain interprets, adapts to and integrates sensory inputs to guide motor behaviour, and 2) how these processes are affected by and can contribute to recovery from brain injury. The long-term objective is to use this knowledge to formulate strategies targeted at enhancing neural adaptations to improve motor behaviour and lessen disability following stroke.

Professor Staines’ research program focuses on understanding how the central nervous system integrates sensory information from multiple input sources and transforms this sensory information to appropriate motor commands.

Understanding of recovery processes following brain injury from stroke is still relatively underdeveloped and there is a pressing need for new innovative approaches to improve rehabilitation in order to promote recovery and lessen disability. This research integrates state-of-the-art neuroimaging and neurophysiological techniques in healthy and brain-injured populations to understand the physiological substrates of recovery from brain injury due to stroke.

Specifically, studies in the lab investigate mechanisms in the human central nervous system that are responsible for controlling movement and for adaptations due to learning and injury.


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