Many eminent scientists and physicians have been associated with the Montreal Neurological Institute. Here are short biographies of some who have earned international recognition for their research in neuroscience, for their expert and compassionate care of patients with neurological diseases, and for their leadership in establishing outstanding training programs in neurology and neurosurgery.
Wilder Graves PENFIELD, MD
(1891 - 1976)
Director 1934 - 1960
A nationwide poll voted the founder and first director of the Montreal Neurological Institute as one of Canada’s greatest citizens. Penfield was born in Spokane, Washington in 1891. He graduated from Princeton University and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, studying with the eminent medical pioneers, Sir William Osler and Charles Sherrington. Penfield’s medical degree was earned at Johns Hopkins University. After practicing surgery in New York City, Penfield continued his training in Spain and Germany where he learned revolutionary research and surgical techniques. He introduced these methods at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal when he arrived there in 1928.
With an award of $1.2 million from the Rockefeller Foundation and the support of private donors, foundations, and government and university officials, Penfield founded the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University in 1934. Then, as now, the MNI was a unique and much emulated centre for the close integration of neuroscience research and clinical practice. Over the next 26 years, Penfield and his colleagues established the world's premier clinical, research and training centre by developing surgical treatment for epilepsy, recording from the brain during surgery, establishing sophisticated behavioral tests for pre- and post-surgical evaluation, and making many other important advances.
David R. COLMAN, PhD
(1949 - 2011)
Director 2002 - 2011
Dr. David R. Colman was the Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) and the Wilder Penfield Professor of Neuroscience at McGill University.
Dr. Colman received his Bachelor of Science (Biology) with minors in English and Geology from New York University (1970) and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the State University of New York (1977).
Prior to becoming the Director in 2002, he was the Annenberg Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, the Vice-Chairman for Research in the Department of Neurology, and the Scientific Director of The Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis of The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Dr. Colman’s research focuses on problems related to myelination, spinal cord injury, and nerve cell development and regeneration. His laboratory has made major contributions to our understanding of how nerves are protected and nurtured by the myelin sheath in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system and how nerve cells communicate with each other across the synapse.
Under Dr. Colman’s leadership, The MNI was re-integrated with the MNH as The Neuro. We launched a $40 million capital campaign and were named one of the first Canadian national Centres of Excellence in Research and Commercialization. He has worked with colleagues to develop McGill’s Neuroengineering Program and the Integrated Program in Neuroscience, and is working with the National Film Board of Canada on an IMAX film about neuroscience, "Neuropolis."
EMINENT MNI NEUROSCIENTISTS
Recognized as a world authority on epilepsy, Andermann was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Canada in 1950. He has practiced medicine at McGill University teaching hospitals for more than 40 years, training experts in the care and treatment of epilepsy around the world. Andermann, with his wife, neurologist Eva Andermann, has characterized several epileptic syndromes. Andermann served as President of the Canadian Neurological Society and received the Distinguished Investigator Award from the American Epilepsy Society. He received the Quebec government’s highest medical distinction, the Prix Wilder-Penfield, and in 2006 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
A distinguished figure in neuroscience, Herbert Jasper arrived at the MNI from the United States in the 1930s. He was a pioneer in the use of electroencephalography (EEG) a technique that he largely introduced to Canada and helped to develop into an essential neuroscience tool. In collaboration with MNI founder, Wilder Penfield, Jasper employed EEG to find the source of seizures in epilepsy and in other brain disorders. Together they wrote scientific papers about the brain’s functional anatomy that had widespread influence. Jasper died in 1999.
One of Canada’s most distinguished neurologists, Karpati was until his death in February, 2009, a world-renowned expert on neuromuscular diseases. He was an expert in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a form of the disease that affects boys. In 2001, in recognition of his “seminal contributions in the area of muscular dystrophy,” he was admitted as an Officer of the Order of Canada. Among his other distinctions, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. Dr. Karpati was the Izaak Walton Killam Professor of Neurology at the MNI.
An illustrious member of the Montreal Neurological Institute for more than half a century, Brenda Milner is among the most famous neuroscientists in the world as a result of her groundbreaking work in neuropsychology. Born in England and a graduate of Cambridge University, Milner joined the MNI in 1950. Early in her career, she published a work on HM, a famous patient whose surgically induced memory deficit led to Milner’s classic studies in memory function. Milner continues to publish her research on the function of the hippocampus and the function of the temporal, frontal and parietal lobes as they relate to memory, speech and language. She has been awarded more than a score of honorary degrees and received some of the most prestigious distinctions, including the Gairdner Prize, Order of Canada, Foreign Associate of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and others. Dr. Milner is the Dorothy J. Killam Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the MNI.