12 episodes

Explore the myths, mysteries, and medical breakthroughs of the most complex and powerful organ in your body – your brain. Weaving together expert interviews with heartfelt, inspiring snapshots of the patients and family members in the middle of it all, Heather Sherman dives into the latest science on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, stroke, concussion, spinal cord injury, brain cancer, chronic pain and other brain diseases and disorders. Along the way she uncovers surprising insights, sheds light on the latest research, and shares heroic, real life stories from the people on the front lines. Brought to you by Krembil Brain Institute at UHN, one of the largest and most comprehensive neurological centres in North America. Learn more about our mission at: http://www.uhn.ca/krembil

Your Complex Brain Krembil Brain Institute

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

Explore the myths, mysteries, and medical breakthroughs of the most complex and powerful organ in your body – your brain. Weaving together expert interviews with heartfelt, inspiring snapshots of the patients and family members in the middle of it all, Heather Sherman dives into the latest science on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, stroke, concussion, spinal cord injury, brain cancer, chronic pain and other brain diseases and disorders. Along the way she uncovers surprising insights, sheds light on the latest research, and shares heroic, real life stories from the people on the front lines. Brought to you by Krembil Brain Institute at UHN, one of the largest and most comprehensive neurological centres in North America. Learn more about our mission at: http://www.uhn.ca/krembil

    Check out UHN’s Behind the Breakthrough podcast

    Check out UHN’s Behind the Breakthrough podcast

    We’ll be launching Season 2 of the Your Complex Brain podcast next spring and we are so excited to bring you even more fascinating topics and inspiring stories about the most complex and fascinating organ in your body – your brain.

    Until then, please check out our friends at Behind the Breakthrough, a podcast hosted by Christian Cote, showcasing the ground breaking research and the people behind it, at University Health Network, in Toronto. 

    Behind the Breakthrough is on all major streaming platforms and Season 4 is not to be missed!

    • 47 sec
    What scientists are learning about COVID-19 and the brain

    What scientists are learning about COVID-19 and the brain

    It’s been more than two years since Susie Goulding contracted COVID-19. But, like many others experiencing long COVID, her ordeal is far from over.

    On today’s episode of Your Complex Brain, Heather explores what the medical and science communities are learning about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 – and all the mysteries that remain.

    After hearing a first-hand account from Susie, Heather meets with three researchers and clinicians at UHN, all of whom are investigating COVID’s enduring brain-related symptoms, such as headaches, brain fog and memory issues. They discuss what is currently being studied, the latest insights into what may be causing these symptoms, and how to provide effective treatments.

    Featuring:
    Dr. Carmela Tartaglia, a Cognitive Neurologist and Clinician Investigator with Krembil Brain Institute. Dr. Tartaglia is also co-Director of UHN’s Memory Clinic. She is currently involved in a number of studies looking at the cognitive and neuropsychiatric impact of long COVID on patients, as well as sex and gender differences in long COVID.

    Dr. Angela Cheung is an Internal Medicine Specialist and Senior Scientist at UHN. Dr. Cheung is the co-Lead Investigator of the Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study, also known as CANCOV, which is designed to better understand the short and long-term outcomes for patients with long COVID and their caregivers.

    Dr. Abdu Sharkawy is an Internal Medicine & Infectious Diseases Specialist at UHN. Under the mentorship and support of Dr. Cheung, he has become an active and dedicated consultant to UHN’s Long Covid Clinic. Dr. Sharkawy is also a trusted public figure who is regularly called upon by media, to comment on the latest COVID-19-related news and information.

    Special thanks to Susie Goulding for sharing her story.

    Additional Resources:
    The Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study (at UHN)
    Toronto Rehab Long Covid Clinic
    COVID Long Haulers Facebook Support Group Canada
    COVID Long Haulers Canada
    Listen to Dr. Angela Cheung on UHN’s Behind the Breakthrough podcast
    Listen to Susie Goulding on The Big Story podcast

    • 45 min
    The most painful brain disease you’ve never heard of

    The most painful brain disease you’ve never heard of

    Imagine not being able to brush your teeth, eat a sandwich or cuddle your children because of the intense pain. That’s the reality for many people living with trigeminal neuralgia, an unrelenting form of chronic facial pain. For many of these patients, a smile, a kiss, or even a gust of wind can unleash a throbbing so severe, some describe it as a ‘lightning bolt to the face.’

    Because trigeminal neuralgia is so rare and so misunderstood, some physicians have never even heard of it. Luckily, many patients here in Canada and from around the world find their way to Dr Mojgan Hodaie, a Neurosurgeon and Senior Scientist with Krembil Brain Institute. Dr. Hodaie is an internationally renowned expert in trigeminal neuralgia.

    In this episode, Dr. Hodaie talks about her quest to better understand where the pain originates from in trigeminal neuralgia, and where it travels within the brain, so that she can develop new and more personalized treatment options for patients.  She also discusses her groundbreaking research and advanced imaging techniques that may also help those suffering with other types of chronic pain disorders.

    Featuring:
    Dr. Mojgan Hodaie is a Neurosurgeon and Senior Scientist with Krembil Brain Institute, as well as the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Chair in International Surgery at UHN, Surgical co-Director of the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Family Gamma Knife Centre, and the Education Lead at Krembil Brain Institute, traveling the world to teach and mentor the next generation of neurosurgeons. Dr. Hodaie is also a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto.
    Dr. Hodaie’s clinical treatment is focused primarily on the management of facial pain. Her research team has a particular interest in advanced MR technology approaches for the study of facial neuropathic pain.

    Special thanks to Josh Johnston and Asma Naheed for sharing their stories.

    Additional Resources:
    Dr. Mojgan Hodaie’s Lab at Krembil Brain Institute
    UHN’s Comprehensive Integrated Pain Program
    KBI Magazine story featuring Josh Johnston “I genuinely believed I was about to die”
    Trigeminal Neuralgia Association of Canada
    The Facial Pain Association
    CBC Story – “Toronto Neurosurgeon Marks 1000th Operation Treating Excruciating Facial Pain Syndrome”

    Videos:
    Dr. Hodaie recounts her journey from immigrant to neurosurgeon
    Dr. Hodaie presenting at Krembil’s ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’ event (@7:45)
    CBC Story on Dr. Hodaie’s work with patients living with Trigeminal Neuralgia

    • 48 min
    How patient advocacy is redefining Parkinson’s research

    How patient advocacy is redefining Parkinson’s research

    More than 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson's, a progressive brain disease that can impact mobility, cognitive function and speech. In this episode, Heather explores what it means to not just live with Parkinson’s, but to ‘live well,’ with meaning and purpose.

    She meets with two patients currently living with Parkinson’s, who are on a mission to help others on the same journey, and a neurologist and scientist, who sees Parkinson’s patients and researches new approaches to treatment.

    The guests are all members of the Patient Advisory Board (PAB) at Krembil Brain Institute's world-renowned Movement Disorders Clinic. The PAB’s mandate is to help improve the quality of research, communication, and the overall patient experience within the clinic, and to redefine how healthcare professionals and patients communicate with each other, in the hopes that this novel approach to patient partnership could help move the Parkinson's field forward and improve patient outcomes.

    Featuring:
    Hugh Johnston is a retired professional accountant who spent many years as a strategic advisor to several of Canada’s top foodservice companies, helping to streamline operations and boost efficiency. Hugh’s business expertise came in very handy as the founding Chair of the Patient Advisory Board at Krembil Brain Institute’s Movement Disorders Clinic.

    Dr. Soania Mathur is Chair of the Research Committee of the PAB, as well as Co-Chair of the Patient Council and a member of the Executive Science Advisory Board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. She is also one of the founders of PD Avengers, a global alliance of people with Parkinson's who are advocating for change, and the Founder of UnshakeableMD, a virtual platform helping to educate and engage those with Parkinson's to live full and productive lives.

    Dr. Alfonso Fasano is a neurologist and a Clinician Investigator at Krembil Brain Institute (KBI), working primarily with patients living with Parkinson’s. He also holds the Chair in Neuromodulation and is co-Director of the Surgical Program for Movement Disorders at KBI, as well as Medical Advisor to the PAB.

    Additional Resources:
    Krembil Brain Institute Movement Disorders Clinic
    Movement Disorders Clinic Speaker Series (featuring Hugh & Soania)
    Parkinson Canada
    UnshakeableMD
    PDAvengers
    The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research 
    Videos:
    Dr. Lorraine Kalia on why she studies Parkinson’s disease
    Smart technology for your brain
    Krembil Minute – Parkinson’s disease

    • 46 min
    Psychedelics and the Mental Health Revolution

    Psychedelics and the Mental Health Revolution

    More than 50 years after emerging as a potential treatment for anxiety and depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other chronic illnesses, psychedelics appear to be making a comeback. But where does the research stand currently on psychedelics and what do we really know about how these compounds may affect the brain?

    With the number of people living with mental health conditions on the rise and the re-emergence of psychedelics as a possible therapy, this topic is very timely. Some may call it a “perfect storm” – one the medical and scientific communities will need to carefully navigate, in order to tap the potential of psychedelics, safely and cautiously.

    Featuring:
    Dr. Susan Abbey is Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the University Health Network (UHN), and a Clinician Investigator with the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute.  She is also a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Toronto and the inaugural Director of the Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre at UHN.

    Dr. Lakshmi Kotra is a Medicinal Chemist and Senior Scientist with Krembil Brain Institute and a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at The University of Toronto. He is also an academic entrepreneur with three decades of expertise in drug discovery, development, and pharmaceuticals, and the co-founder and CEO of Lucid Psycheceuticals.

    Additional Resources:
    Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre at UHN
    First-of-its-kind research centre will bring psychedelic psychotherapy to UHN
    The Revival of Psychedelic Research – ORT Times article
    Lucid Psycheceuticals

    • 28 min
    Revolutionary advances in spinal cord injury

    Revolutionary advances in spinal cord injury

    That mysterious back or neck pain you’ve been experiencing might just be Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM) – a progressive condition that is the most common cause of spinal cord injury. Left untreated, DCM can lead to permanent nerve damage, resulting in paralysis and a drastic increase in the chance of a more serious spinal cord injury, later in life.

    To explore, Heather meets with Dr. Michael G. Fehlings, a neurosurgeon and senior scientist with Krembil Brain Institute at UHN. He’s on a mission to spread awareness about DCM and improve the quality of life for those living with spinal cord injuries. Dr. Fehlings is a pioneer in the treatment of spinal conditions, and one of the first clinician-researchers to identify the benefits of early spinal decompression surgery, for DCM and other spine-related conditions.

    We also hear from Analynne Salas, a patient of Dr. Fehlings, who underwent spinal decompression surgery for DCM, after a fall. After months of in-patient rehab, Analynne is greatly improved and back at home with her family. Later, we also meet Rosalie Magtoto, an Advanced Practice Nurse who has been with the Spine team at Krembil Brain Institute for the past 18 years.

    Featuring:
    Dr. Michael Fehlings, a neurosurgeon and a senior scientist with Krembil Brain Institute at UHN.
    Special thanks to Analynne Salas and Rosalie Magtoto for sharing their stories.

    To hear more from Analynne, listen to her full story here: https://www.uhn.ca/Krembil/Complex-Brain-Podcast

    Additional Resources:
    UHN Spinal Cord Clinic
    Krembil Brain Institute Spine Program
    The Fehlings Laboratory for Neural Repair and Regeneration
    Spinal Cord Injury Canada
    Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
    UHN Research – Dr. Michael G. Fehlings
    UHN News – A Radical Method for Treating Spinal Cord Injuries
    The Globe and Mail – How to Recognize the Early Signs of Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy
    The Globe and Mail – A Truck Nearly Killed Him but Venture Capitalist John Ruffolo Has Kept Moving Forward

    • 37 min

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