A new podcast from Krembil Brain Institute

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 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.

The Your Complex Brain production team: Carley McPherson, Heather Sherman, Dr. Amy Ma, Twayne Pereira, Suzanne Wice, Sara Yuan, Jessica Schmidt and Tobin Dalrymple.

Release Date: March 14, 2022 |  Run Time: 02:00 |  Download the transcript

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Current Episode

Episode 8 – How Patient Advocacy is Redefining Parkinson's Research

Release Date: June 28, 2022 |  Run Time: 46:07 |  Download the transcript

More than 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinson's disease (PD), a progressive brain disease that can impact mobility, cognitive function and speech, just to name a few of the early symptoms.

In the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, host Heather Sherman meets two people living with Parkinson's who have becomes advocates for the PD community, learning not just to live with the disease, but to live well - with more meaning and purpose. Now, they want to help others on the same journey.

"Patients want answers to very practical questions like, 'Why am I constipated? Can you do something about my pain? Can I move better? Can I stop falling?' These are the main questions that they have," says Dr. Alfonso Fasano. "It's not about tremor. This is what people think but it's not, and unless you talk to patients and see what they want to achieve, you don't necessarily know that and you focus on something that is not relevant."

The podcast features Dr. Fasano and the two patients, who are all members of the Patient Advisory Board (PAB) at Krembil Brain's world-renowned Movement Disorders Clinic, the largest clinic of its kind in Canada. The PAB's efforts are helping to redefine how healthcare professionals and patients communicate with each other – and that's making a huge difference, they say.

"This group of clinicians and staff is different. They actually want to know what the patients and care partners think and feel. And not only that, they actually want to do something with it," says Hugh Johnston, Founding Chair and PAB member. "They often don't ask a question unless they plan to do something with the answer."

The PAB hopes this innovative approach to patient partnership could help move the Parkinson's field forward and improve patient outcomes in the long term.

"I think it's important for collaboration to occur because only patients know what their life experience is," says Dr. Soania Mathur. "Studies have also shown that patient retention and patient recruitment are definitely improved when you have a patient involved in the research process or helping to develop the research study. So these are really tangible and positive outcomes of collaboration between patients and the medical & research communities."

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts.

Hugh Johnston

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

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

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.

Bonus Content: To hear more from Hugh and Soania, listen to their full stories:

Hugh Johnston | Run Time: 15:09 |  Download the transcript

Soania Mathur | Run Time: 06:49 |  Download the transcript

Past Episodes

Episode 1: What is it going
to take to cure Alzheimer's?
Patty and her mom

With the controversial approval of Alzheimer's drug, Aducanumab, in the United States, we speak with neurologist and medicinal chemist, Dr. Donald Weaver, to break down the science, sift through the hype, and help us understand why it's so difficult to diagnose and treat a disease that affects more than 55 million people worldwide.

Episode 2: The rise of
stroke in young adults
Dr. Aleksandra Pikula

On the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, host Heather Sherman meets with Dr. Aleksandra Pikula, a pioneer in the field of stroke in young adults. They discuss the latest research, including a new study led by Dr. Pikula, looking at how lifestyle interventions post-stroke may help to improve long-term outcomes.

Episode 3 – Can listening to Mozart help stop seizures in epilepsy patients?
Scott Dainty

On this episode of Your Complex Brain, Heather speaks with Dr. Marjan Rafiee and Dr. Taufik Valiante to discuss the latest research around the therapeutic role that music may play in neurological disorders such as epilepsy, a mystery which is still not fully understood. These leading researchers were surprised by the results they uncovered


Episode 4 – The quest to solve the concussion problem

On the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, Dr. Carmela Tartaglia discusses the latest research on the link between multiple concussions and neurodegeneration, or progressive loss of brain function – a symptom that's consistent with diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Episode 5 – Meet the woman who wants to cure brain cancer
Rick and Ally Arkell

On the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, Dr. Zadeh, Krembil Brain Institute's Medical Director, explains how the science has evolved in the 20+ years she has treated patients with brain cancer. She also discusses her pioneering research, which includes leading a team that is developing a blood test (and other diagnostic methods) to diagnose brain cancer earlier and with more accuracy.

Episode 6 – Revolutionary advances in spinal cord injury
Analynne Salas

On the latest episode of Your Complex Brain, host Heather Sherman 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 Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM) and improve the quality of life for those living with spinal cord injuries.


Episode 7 – Psychedelics and the mental health revolution

On the this episode of Your Complex Brain, host Heather Sherman explores the fascinating world of psychedelics in medicine and research. She meets with Dr. Susan Abbey, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the University Health Network and a Clinician Investigator with the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, as well as Dr. Lakshmi Kotra, a Medicinal Chemist and Senior Scientist with Krembil Brain Institute and Co-Founder and CEO of Lucid Psycheceuticals.