Brain Health Research Day

The Brain Health Research Day brings together the broad research community of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI). The day features a keynote address from a world-renowned leader in brain health, speakers from our various partners, trainee posters presentations, as well as highlights and updates from the uOBMRI. Brain Health Research Day is one step in bringing together researchers, clinicians and students with a shared goal to create one of the world's top centres for neuroscience and the treatment of brain disorders.

About the Day

Since 2009 we have hosted an annual Brain Health Research Day to bring together our research community.  

The day includes dynamic speakers including an external world-renowned keynote speaker, as well as short presentations by our clinicians and researchers to describe the broad research in brain health being done at University of Ottawa and our partner institutions.  

Trainees are highlighted during the day through giving them an opportunity to give an oral presentation, display their research at the poster session, be a poster judge, and have their scientific images displayed at our event.    

We are pleased to announce that the next BHRD will take place at the uOttawa faculty of Social Sciences on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

Registration opening soon!

Contact Us

For all questions, comments and suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Brain Health Research Day.

Keynote speakers



The 2017 Antoine Hakim Lecture will be given by:
Larry J. Young, PhD
William P. Timmie Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Emory University – Atlanta GA
Keynote address: Oxytocin and the neural mechanisms of social attachment, social loss and empathy related behaviors: Implications for autism.

Link to bio

Abstract for lecture: 

The socially monogamous prairie vole provides an opportunity to examine the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms underlying complex social behaviors, including social bonding and empathy-related behaviors.  Oxytocin receptor (OXTR) signaling in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) is critical for pair bond formation between mates.  Diversity in expression patterns within the brain contribute to diversity in social behaviors across and within species.  In prairie voles, oxytocin links the neural encoding of the social signature of the partner with the rewarding aspects of mating through interactions with dopamine and by coordinating communication across a neural network linking social information with reward. Genetic polymorphisms robustly predict natural variation in OXTR expression in the striatum, which predict pair bonding behavior and resilience to neonatal social neglect.  We have also explored the capacity of prairie vole to display empathy-like behavior, specifically consoling. Prairie voles increase their partner-directed grooming toward mates that have experienced an unobserved stressor. This consoling response is abolished blocking oxytocin receptor antagonist into the anterior cingulate cortex, a region involved in human empathy.  Finally, loss of a bonded partner results in the development of depressive-like “grieving” behavior. Infusion of oxytocin into the NAcc prevents social loss-induced depression. Studies using intranasal oxytocin and behavioral genetics suggest that the role of oxytocin on social attachment and social cognition is conserved from rodent to man.  In humans, intranasal oxytocin enhances eye gaze into the eyes of others, the ability to infer the emotions of others from facial cues, empathy, and socially reinforced learning. Thus the oxytocin system may be a viable target for drugs to improve social functioning in autism. Melanocortin agonists, in particular, evoke endogenous oxytocin release, facilitate social bonding, and activate oxytocin-dependent neural networks via enhancing oxytocin receptor signally, and thus represent a novel therapeutic strategy for improving social function in autism spectrum disorders.


Brain Health Research Day Schedule 


Brain Health Research Day | June 1, 2017 | Program


REGISTRATION | Lobby of Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) Amphitheater 2005


SESSION I | FSS Amphitheater 2005

WELCOME Dr. David Park, Director of uOBMRI; Dr. Marcel Mérette, Dean of FSS; Dr. Tim Aubry, Director of School of Psychology

9:10 Dr. Elisa Romano – Full Professor, School of Psychology, uOttawa | The Implementation and Evaluation of an Evidence-Based Child Neglect Program

9:30 Dr. Hongyu Sun – Assistant Professor, Dept of Neuroscience, Carleton University | Understanding the effects of early experiences on critical period plasticity and brain development

9:50 Trainee Award Winner 1

10:00 Dr. Simon Chen – Assistant Professor, Dept of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, uOttawa| Imaging Neural Ensembles During Learning in Awake Mice




SESSION II | FSS Amphitheater 2005

11:20 Dr. Mark Freedman – Director, MS Research Unit, TOH; Senior Scientist, Neuroscience Program, OHRI; Professor, Neurology, uOttawa | The potential use of mesenchymal stem cells in MS

11:40 Dr. Heidi Sveistrup - CEO & Chief Scientific Officer and VP Research and Academic Affairs, Bruyère Research Institute; Full Professor, School of Rehabilitation, uOttawa | It’s all about balance

12:00 Trainee Award Winner 2

12:10 Dr. Cristina Atance – Professor, School of Psychology, uOttawa | Future-oriented thinking in young children


LUNCH and POSTER SESSION | Lobby of FSS and Room 4007


SESSION III | FSS Amphitheater 2005

2:00 Dr. Matthew Pamenter – Assistant Professor, Dept of Biology, uOttawa | CNS control of physiological responses to acute hypoxia in naked mole rats

2:20 Dr. Kathleen Pajer - Chief of Psychiatry, CHEO; Professor, Dept of Psychiatry, uOttawa | Girls and Women with Antisocial Behavior Disorder: Characterization of HPA Axis Function and Clinical Implications



3:00 – 4:00


Dr. Larry Young, William P. Timmie Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry Emory University – Atlanta GA

Oxytocin and the neural mechanisms of social attachment, social loss and empathy related behaviors: Implications for autism




We are pleased to announce that Registration and Abstract Submission for Brain Health Research Day 2017 is NOW OPEN!

Please click here to register:

Student Workshops

We are pleased to offer workshops on May 31, 2017 as part of Brain Health Research Day.  These free workshops are organized by the student committee for the annual Brain Health Research Day. The workshops will specialize in a specific technique called optogenetics that is commonly used in neuroscience research and professional development.

We are also hosting our annual Social Event following the workshops on May 31, join us to kick- off Brain Health Research Day, meet our key note speaker Dr. Larry Young and enjoy a fun filled evening with your peers. 

Register for the student workshops below:





Thank you to all poster submissions for BHRD 2017. 

To view a list of all posters and their abstract, please follow this link to open up a PDF file:


Award winners

Congratulations to the 2015 Brain Health Research Day Award Winners!

Poster Awards

Masters Poster Awards:
  • Karah Lee
  • Megan Fitzpatrick
PhD Poster Awards:
  • Bensun Fong
  • Samantha Kornfeld
  • Kevin Lee
Postdoctoral Fellow Poster Award:
  • Mireille Khacho
Undergraduate Student Poster Award:
  • Mateo Farfan

Oral Trainee Presentation Awards

  • Oral Trainee Presentation – Postdoctoral Fellow: En Huang
  • Oral Trainee Presentation – PhD: Sarah Wassmer
  • Oral Trainee – Honorable Mention: Paul Marcogliese

Image Contest Winner

  • Jonathon Keow

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