About Us

Information on The CAN Story, our Advisory Committee, The CANdex, and our Staff

The CAN Story

The brain holds the great mysteries of our time.
Neuroscientists devote their lives to improving brain health because nothing is more destructive and frightening than brain disease. The emotional and financial costs of brain disease affect every Albertan.

Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN) was established by the Alberta neuroscience community in 2012 with support from the Government of Alberta to accelerate understanding of the brain, improve brain health through collaboration, develop the province as a centre of neuroscience excellence, and improve quality of life in Alberta and beyond.

Alberta has three strong university centres for neuroscience that work in partnership to form Campus Alberta Neuroscience (CAN):

· Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI)
· Edmonton’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute (NMHI)
· Lethbridge’s Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience (CCBN)

Campus Alberta Neuroscience currently works in the areas of Computational Neuroscience, Depression, Healthy Brain Aging and Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Nervous System Injury, Neuroimaging, as well as the intersections of Pain, Opioids, and Cannabis.

Our network helps accelerate new research advances, both of pure discovery and those with the potential for translation into new products and protocols. Together, our organization and partners push towards creating new ways for students, researchers, and industry to work, learn, and innovate collaboratively to help make Alberta the epicentre for brain scientists.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee is made up of:

Chair: Dr. David Park


Dr. Park is an internationally recognized expert in molecular biology and he is Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. He completed his PhD in biochemistry at Rutgers University followed by post-doctoral training in neurobiology at Columbia University. His focus is on understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s disease and stroke-related neurodegeneration. Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed and invited articles.

Dr. Katherine Aitchison



Dr. Aitchison is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics and the Associate Director, Mental Health, for the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta.  She is a Consulting Psychiatrist with the Edmonton Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EEPIC) and the Edmonton Mood and Anxiety Disorder Program. Dr. Aitchison has published more than 290 papers, many in prestigious journals. She has also coauthored a book entitled “First Episode Psychosis” that has been used worldwide and translated into Korean.

Dr. Trevor Barss



Dr. Barss is currently a post-doctoral fellow working under the supervision of Dr. Dave Collins (University of Alberta) and Dr. Chester Ho (University of Calgary) funded by a fellowship from Campus Alberta Neuroscience. The focus of his post-doctoral research is a multi-institution collaboration which aims to reduce fatigue of electrically-evoked muscle contractions during cycling in individuals with a spinal cord injury. Trevor aims to improve functional recovery after neurotrauma by using both voluntary and electrically-evoked exercise based rehabilitation strategies.

Olle Lagerquist


Olle Lagerquist is the Executive Director of Spinal Cord Injury Alberta, formerly the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

Dr. Aaron Gruber



Dr. Gruber received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, and joined the faculty in the department of neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge in 2009. Dr. Gruber’s laboratory utilizes a wide array of computational and experimental techniques to study how the brain uses past experience to make good choices. The lab’s current focus is to use modern technologies for recording and manipulating large-scale neural activity to study how molecular actions of dopamine receptors affect brain dynamics to influence behaviour.

Michele Mulder



Ms. Mulder joined the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in August 2015 as their Chief Executive Officer. During her time with the organization, Michele has built new, and strengthened existing partnerships in the health and research fields, and has implemented strategic initiatives focused on the organization’s mission and vision to better serve people with dementia and their care partners, stakeholders, funders and donors. A strong supporter of research to find a cause and cure for dementia, Michele has been working to introduce a more strategic approach to supporting both bio-medical and pyscho-social research efforts in Alberta.

Petra O'Connell


Ms. O'Connell is the Senior Provincial Director of the Neurosciences, Rehabilitation & Vision - Strategic Clinical Network™ (NRV SCN) and the Diabetes, Obesity & Nutrition - Strategic Clinical Network™ (DON SCN) at Alberta Health Services. Petra has extensive experience in strategic and operational planning and evaluation across health care settings and clinical service areas. She has degrees in BSc. Medical Laboratory Sciences and Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of Alberta and has published in the areas of health technology assessment, clinical practice guidelines, and innovations in health care organization.

Dr. Quentin Pittman



Dr. Pittman is a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed and invited articles on his work that extends from cellular studies on peptide and other transmitters in brain slices to whole animal studies on the effects of inflammation on the brain. At the University of Calgary, Dr. Pittman has been Chair of the Neuroscience Research Group, Assistant Dean (Medical Science) and Education Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He has also been President of the Canadian Physiological Society, Councilor of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, International Neuroendocrine Federation and International Union of Physiological Sciences and Treasurer of the International Brain Research Organization.

Dr. Simonetta Sipione



Dr. Sipione is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta. She also holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Huntington's disease. Dr. Sipione received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Catania (Italy) and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Milano (Italy) and at University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying Huntington's disease and on the role of brain lipids in neurodegeneration.

Dr. Rob Sutherland



Dr. Sutherland is Professor & Chair of the Department of Neuroscience in the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, where he is also an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Scientist. His current research investigates the neurobiology of learning, memory and amnesia in rodents and humans.

Dr. Ian Winship


Dr. Winship is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta. He is Director of the Neurochemical Research Unit in the Department of Psychiatry, a member of the Steering Committee for the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta, and Chair of the Campus Alberta Neuroscience Education Committee. He has served on scientific review committees with national agencies including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. His research uses advanced imaging and behavioural assays in models of brain disease to identify novel pathophysiology and innovative therapies for these disorders.

Dr. Doug Zochodne



Dr. Zochodne joined the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta as Divisional Director in Neurology in July 2014. He is also Co-Director of the Neurosciences and Mental Health Institute. Along with his administrative responsibilities, Dr. Zochodne has an extensive research program that has been transplanted to the U of A. He has held independent, peer-reviewed funding for over 20 years, which includes funding from CIHR, NIH, AHFMR, among others. He has published over 230 peer reviewed papers and was the recipient of the 2011 Wolfe Prize from the American Neurological Association for his neuropathy research. Dr. Zochodne and his research team have made significant contributions in experimental diabetic neuropathy and peripheral nerve regeneration.


Campus Alberta Neuroscience is a province-wide team working across three Alberta campuses – the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge – to support and facilitate collaborative research, education, translation, and innovation in neuroscience and mental health.  By developing new and additional ways for students and researchers to work, learn, and discover together, we aim to establish Alberta as the world’s leading destination for brain scientists.
For information and all inquiries: [email protected]403-220-2422

Grant McIntyre, PhD


Based at the University of Alberta

Dr. McIntyre received a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Alberta in 2000. Before becoming the Executive Director of Campus Alberta Neuroscience he spent 12 years with the Government of Alberta in the ministries of Enterprise and Advanced Education, and of Health. Much of his work involved the development and funding of provincial research strategies.

Jennifer Dotchin


Based at the University of Calgary

As Project Manager at the University of Calgary, Jennifer manages and oversees the programs and projects at CAN while supporting partnership and network development. She is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and holds a MA in Political Studies, as well as has training in process improvement and change management. Jennifer has experience in healthcare for over a decade at the local, regulatory, provincial, and national levels. Jennifer can be found in the mountains most weekends and lives in Calgary.

Shannon Wowk


Based at the University of Alberta

Shannon is the Research Strategy Coordinator currently working with the Spinal Cord Injury Partner Committee to develop a provincial Spinal Cord Injury strategy that ties together research, clinical, community and government stakeholders. She has also worked with depression researchers and people with lived experience to develop a province wide research and intervention strategy. She is currently completing her PhD with Dr. Fred Colbourne at the University of Alberta, studying treatments for stroke.

Renee Dumas


Based at the University of Lethbridge

Renée provides administrative and program coordination to Campus Alberta Neuroscience from her base at the University of Lethbridge. Her role supports CAN’s mandate to increase the scope, scale, success, and impact of neuroscience and mental health education and research in Alberta. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Counselling from the University of Lethbridge. Her academic interests include the neurodevelopmental pathways to atypical behaviour, the neuropsychological effects of brain injury, and the processes of healing and change in the brain.

Hilary Heninger


Based at the University of Calgary

As the Communications and Events Coordinator, Hilary oversees conference, workshop, and sponsorship organization, stakeholder relations, and social media. Hilary has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Calgary as well as a degree from FIT in New York City.

Lucy Escott


Based at the University of Calgary

As Administrative Coordinator, Lucy supports Campus Alberta Neuroscience’s core administrative duties, assists with event coordination, communications and plays a critical role in facilitating network activity. Lucy oversees the Entrepreneurship Program. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing from the University of Central England.


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