Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

VIVA Awards

2023-05-02 @ 13:30 - 15:30 EDT

Please join us on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, from 13:30-15:30, for VIVA Awards.


This competition allows students and postdocs of the Douglas Research Centre to gain experience in communicating their research topic to a wider audience. The winners of this year’s competition will move on to the provincial finals of the Science POP competition.

The competition includes three challenges held in parallel, with different objectives and formats.


1. “Popularization” challenge

In a 5-minute maximum presentation (in English or in French) candidates will use their creativity to explain a central element of their research project, using accessible language.

2. “Valorization” challenge

In 2-minute maximum presentations (in English or in French), and in an accompanying press-release, candidates will highlight the novel aspects of their research project and its short- and long-term benefits.

3. Mobilization challenge

The candidates will present a 10-minute TEDx-style talk. They are permitted to use an unlimited number of slides, as well as one prop.



Popularization Challenge

Claudia Belliveau 

PhD Candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University 

A (bitter) sweet protector


1 in 3 Canadians has experienced maltreatment before the age of 15. Early life is marked by a period of heightened plasticity, during which the environment can have a big influence on the way the brain develops. Severe child abuse often leads to depression and suicidal tendencies. The reasons for this are still largely unknown, but, we do know that child abuse is associated with functional changes in brain areas involved in the processing of fear and emotions. I study the brains of people who died by suicide with or without a history of child abuse compared to psychiatrically healthy controls. Structures made of sugars and proteins called perineuronal nets usually protect neurons in the brain. My research aims to better understand how child abuse highjacks perineuronal nets leaving lasting marks on the human brain. I hope shedding light on a new target for treatments of depression and suicide. 

Pascal Ibrahim  

PhD candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University

How do brain cells talk to each other when depressed?


Depression is an urgent global burden with no current treatment effective enough. To develop new treatments, we must first better understand what is going on in ones head when they are depressed. One theory is that the cells within our brain are not communicating properly, and this might not only apply to the typical electric signals sent between cells, but also a recently discovered means of communication: extracellular vesicles. These vesicles are a hot topic of research at the moment, as their relevance to various biological processes, which had no clear explanation previously, is becoming more evident. Unveiling the molecular underpinnings of depression could save lives. In this talk, I invite you to learn more about extracellular vesicles, and how studying them might be key to developing novel treatments for depression. 


Sophie Simard 

PhD candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University

Can the adult human brain generate new neurons?


Neurogenesis is a phenomenon where new neurons are generated in the brain. The existence of neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus, a brain region crucial for memory and the regulation of mood, was first demonstrated approximately twenty-five years ago. However, in recent years, the occurrence of adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) in the human brain has been widely debated within the scientific community due to the publication of several conflicting reports. The controversy surrounding this topic highlights the need to examine the full extent of AHN in the human brain in order to understand its involvement in hippocampal functions and related pathologies, which include mental health disorders. In this talk, I will give an overview of the phenomenon, its current state of research, and why its existence in the human brain remains a controversial area of research.   


Libby Lassman 

 MSc candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University

How Self-Stigma in Psychosis Fuels a Fear of Others


Despite the rise in advocacy for mental health, there remains a lingering social stigma surrounding mental illness, especially for more severe conditions. Specifically, people with a psychotic disorder are among the most stigmatized groups and tend to be perceived as violent, dangerous, “crazy” and many other negative labels. Those who suffer from psychosis may start endorsing and identifying with these negative stereotypes and prejudices – a process called internalized stigma. This process is common in younger patients who have recently experienced a first episode of psychosis and often leads to a range of negative thoughts and feelings, including shame or fear of discrimination which can result in fearing social interactions. Understanding the development and social consequences of internalized stigma can ultimately shed light on how psychotherapy can be used to target this in order to help alleviate symptoms of social anxiety in first-episode psychosis patients. 

Ahmed Abderaouf Bouteldja 

MSc candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University

Circadian rhythms and early brain circuit deficits: implications in schizophrenia


Like everything else in nature, our body undergoes numerous cycles that control important biological phenomena, including sleep and appetite. These cycles are referred to as circadian rhythms, which follow a 24-hour pattern and are essential for our body to function. Their disruption, such as through night shift work, can have dire health consequences including the increased risk of mental health disorders. This includes schizophrenia, where 8 in 10 people exhibit sleep and circadian rhythm perturbations, which make circadian rhythms a primary target for uncovering therapeutic options. In this talk, I will explore circadian rhythms in schizophrenia and how we utilize an animal model of the disorder to investigate them. 



Lyne Baaj 

MSc candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University

Cannabis: Could I get Addicted?


Despite its reputation as a “low risk” substance, cannabis use can lead to addiction and ~33% of cannabis users develop a cannabis use problem. In addition to the risk of cannabis addiction, chronic cannabis use has also been linked to poorer mental health outcomes, like depression and anxiety. From decades of research, we know that long-term and heavy cannabis use can be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. But what does cannabis addiction look like? Who is most vulnerable to the negative consequences of cannabis use? How does cannabis affect the brain and how can I protect myself from its negative outcomes? The goal of my talk is to answer these questions and arm you with scientific knowledge about cannabis so that you can make informed decisions about your health. 



Valorisation Challenge

Marina Tedeschi Dauar  

PhD candidate, McGill University 

Understanding our genes to treat Alzheimer’s disease


In my PhD project I study genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We have identified two new genetic variants associated with increased risk for AD, and I performed further studies to characterize their role in the pathophysiology of the disease. To this day, there are no effective treatments for AD, the pathophysiology of the disease is not completely understood, and most genetic risk factors have not been identified. Identifying the genetic variants involved in the disease is crucial to better understand its pathophysiology and to develop better diagnostic tools and treatments. In my presentation, I intend to present these newly identified genetic variants, explain their role in AD and explain the importance of knowing genetic variants to better understand and treat the disease.

Tyler Agyekum 

MSc candidate in Neuroscience, McGill University 

How we can protect our minds from cognitive decline that may lead to Alzheimer’s Disease


The older population continues to increase and so does neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. However, we still don’t have a cure and many scientists believe prevention may be the best therapeutic approach. In my research, I plan on taking this approach by focusing on the hippocampus which plays a huge role in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. By using MRI metrics that capture the tissue-level of the hippocampus I will look at the microstructure of the hippocampus to see how it varies across a cohort of middle-aged to older adults. Furthermore, by associating these hippocampal variations with a battery of behavioural metrics I hope to be able to pinpoint certain behaviours that could be potential risk factors towards hippocampal atrophy as well as behaviours that could potentially be neuroprotective. 

Marjolaine Rivest-Beauregard 

PhD candidate, McGill University 


Mieux comprendre la détresse en pandémie pour mieux prévenir les futures crises 

Les réactions psychologiques à la pandémie se sont faites nombreuses : de hauts niveaux de détresse qui se sont estompés avec le temps, des niveaux de détresse qui sont demeurés relativement bas, et des niveaux de détresse qui sont restés ou devenus chroniques. Cette détresse chronique génère beaucoup de souffrance pour ceux qui en font l’expérience, mais aussi de leur proche. Cependant, en identifiant des caractéristiques particulières à ceux qui développent de la détresse chronique, nous pourrons mieux intervenir dans l’immédiat et mieux prévenir dans les prochaines crises. C’est donc ce à quoi mes résultats de recherche doctorale serviront. Les retombées anticipées sont les suivantes : au court terme, nous serons en mesure de mieux comprendre comment les gens souffrent encore de la pandémie, nous permettant donc d’intervenir de manière plus ciblée. Au moyen terme, ces résultats nous permettront de faire de la psychoéducation sur les réactions psychologique et la détresse en contexte de crise sanitaire et de mettre en place des mécanismes de prévention en santé mentale en contexte de crise sanitaires et global. Finalement, au long terme, ces résultats nous permettront de mettre en place les mécanismes de prévention en santé mentale et, au besoin, les adapter au nouveau contexte de crise.  

Kristelle Alunni-Menichini 

Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University

Un blogue informé sur la consommation de substances, ça existe ?

Mes recherches visent à améliorer les pratiques et les politiques en dépendance afin de réduire les stigmas auxquels les personnes qui consomment font face et d’améliorer leur bien-être, voire de leur sauver la vie. Pour moi, il était important de démocratiser les savoirs en rendant accessibles nos recherches, mais aussi les différentes expériences, à l’ensemble de la population. J’ai donc cofondé un blogue collaboratif qui aborde des thématiques entourant la consommation de substances dans le but de croiser les différents regards et d’échanger sans tabou sur le sujet, tout en favorisant la mise en place de recherches inclusives. Ultimement, ceci a pour but d’ouvrir les esprits, d’améliorer l’acceptabilité des modes de vie, des pratiques et des politiques considérées hors-normes, et de créer une communauté soutenante. 





Mobilisation Challenge

Katie Lavigne  

Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University



Promoting sustainable cognitive health through open science


Poor cognitive health (including difficulties with memory, attention, and planning) is an often-overlooked aspect of mental health. Cognitive health problems are experienced by many people diagnosed with mental illness, 

contribute to symptoms, and severely impact everyday life. Digital tests of cognition, such as smartphone or online apps, are key tools in identifying cognitive health difficulties as well as monitoring treatment progress. 

However, there are many shortcomings with current tools that limit their use, such as cost and poor flexibility across different contexts. Open science has the potential to transform current practices in cognitive health through transparency, accountability, and inclusion. Our initiative in open digital cognitive health invites diverse perspectives from researchers, clinicians, and people with lived experience to promote knowledge exchange and sustainable cognitive health. 

Justine  Fortin 

PhD candidate,  Université de Montréal 




ART-SCI  De la base de données à vos écrans


Les mots « trauma », « détresse », et « stress » ont été largement popularisé au cours des dernières années, mais personne de l’utilise de la même façon. Lorsque ces mots sont interchangés sans prendre conscience de leur signification, cela peut mener à l’invalidation de l’expérience des autres. C’est pour cette raison qu’il est important de bien identifier les différentes réactions psychologiques qu’un événement marquant peut avoir dans la vie de quelqu’un. La définition de ces trois concepts, soit le trauma, la détresse, et le stress, ainsi que les réactions psychologiques qui y sont associées, ont été identifié par la recherche il y a déjà bien longtemps. Cependant, la communauté scientifique est encore à la recherche de moyens optimaux pour atteindre les jeunes adultes, soit la population âgée entre 18-35 ans. Pour offrir une manière innovatrice et originale de partager ces connaissances auprès des jeunes adultes, nous proposons ART-SCI : une collaboration entre la communauté scientifique, artistique et les jeunes adultes eux-mêmes. Ce projet de mobilisation sera mis en place en trois étapes : 1) nous créerons un comité organisateur qui sera composé différentes parties prenantes, 2) nous soutiendrons la création de courts métrages étant le fruit de collaborations entre des membres de la communauté scientifique du domaine du trauma et cinématographique, 3) nous diffuserons les 3 courts métrages (un par concept) lors d’un événement unique en son genre organisé par le comité, en collaboration avec sors de ma tête, un organisme faisant la promotion de la santé mentale auprès de jeunes adultes. 



Live, in the Douglas Hall, Douglas Institute


13:30 - 15:30 EDT
Event Tags:


Douglas Hall, Douglas Institute
6875 Lasalle Blvd
Montreal, Quebec H4H 1R3 Canada
+ Google Map
View Venue Website