May 25 , 2010


Seeking Canada’s next top brain researcher

Annual contest spawns new generation of scientists


Hamilton, Ont. May 25, 2010High school students from across Canada will converge on

McMaster University next week to compete for the right to be called the best brain in Canada. 


The students, all winners of their regional competitions, will be tested on their knowledge of

neuroscience and their skills at patient diagnosis and neuroanatomy.  Topics cover memory, sleep,

intelligence, emotion, perception, stress, aging, brain-imaging, neurology, neurotransmitters, genetics, and brain disease.


The competition begins May 29. Participants are winners of their regional Brain Bee competitions in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, London, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and St. John’s.


Judith Shedden, associate professor in McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience &

Behaviour, started the McMaster Brain Bee eight years ago. Now chair of the CIHR Canadian

National Brain Bee Committee, she says the purpose of the competition is to encourage a career in one of the great frontiers of scientific research.


It appears to be paying off. Many Brain Bee competitors and winners have gone on to careers in

medicine and neuroscience, including Ayan Dey (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour), Sanket Ullal (Biology), and Sean Amodeo (Health Sciences), all of whom are completing undergraduate degrees at McMaster.


“The Brain Bee laid the foundation,” says Ullal, who is starting his fourth year in Biology.  “And it’s definitely given me an edge in research and school projects.” 


Dey is starting his fourth year in the Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program. “The Brain Bee was my first real exposure to the field of neuroscience and I’ve been hooked ever since.”


Amodeo, last year’s Brain Bee champion, is in his first year in Health Sciences. “I wanted to learn about one of the most rapidly growing areas of science. The Brain Bee got me interested in neuroscience and inspired me to pursue a career in brain research.”


The CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee is supported nationally by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


“This championship allows the brightest students in Canada to gather and measure their knowledge about the brain, the most complex structure in the known universe,” says Anthony Phillips, scientific director at the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. “These talented students represent the future in this field.”


Winners receive trophies and scholarship awards of $1,500, $1,000, and $500.  The first-place winner will represent Canada at the International Brain Bee on August 12-15, 2010, in San Diego.


More information can be found at 


McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its

translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a

strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. 





For more information, please contact:


Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988


Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869


Judith Shedden

Associate Professor

Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

McMaster University



David Coulombe

CIHR Media Relations