SickKids researcher Dr. Sheena Josselyn elected to National Academy of Medicine
Dr. Sheena Josselyn, Senior Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health research program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. This non-profit institution is made up of more than 2,400 members who provide independent advice to the United States government on matters of health and the future of health care. Each year new members are elected in recognition of their professional achievement and commitment to service.
Josselyn, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Memory Function and Dysfunction, is interested in exploring how the brain encodes, stores and uses information. Research on these normal brain functions is critical for understanding several disorders, ranging from autism spectrum disorder to Alzheimer’s disease. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
On the announcement of her election to the National Academy of Medicine, we spotlight Josselyn’s research and what this election means to her.
What does it mean for you to be elected to National Academy of Medicine?
To be elected by my peers to this prestigious organization with a wonderful mission is an honour for me and a real tribute to the past and present members of my research team here at SickKids. Election to the National Academy of Medicine will also energize our research efforts at SickKids (even more than our usual high energy)! With the academy’s global scope, this appointment can also help highlight my lab's research discoveries and the amazing research going on at SickKids more broadly with the international community.
Can you tell us a little about your latest research?
My research examines how information is encoded, stored and used in the brain. We believe this basic and fundamental process is important to understand how we learn and remember things. Moreover, we believe a disruption in this fundamental process may lie at the heart of a number of disorders, ranging from memory disorders to human conditions in which information processing is disrupted, such as depression. Understanding more about how the brain works naturally will inform us how to treat conditions in which brain function is not optimal.
What is the one question in your area of research that continues to keep you up at night?
The brain is certainly the most complex organ in the body, and some argue, the most complex entity in the universe. We believe that one of the essential functions of the brain is to optimize our current and future decisions based on past information and experience — this is the essence of memory. The overall questions of how the brain stores information, how the brain uses this information to guide current and future decisions, and how we can correct this process when things go wrong in the brain continues to keep me up at night.
Once we understand the basics of this central process, I believe we will have the key to developing future treatments for a variety of human brain conditions. Without this fundamental knowledge it is hard to imagine how we as a community of scientists and clinicians can hope to develop more targeted and effective therapies.
Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Learn more about the new members on the National Academy of Medicine website.