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SickKids

Sheena Josselyn

Title: Senior Scientist, Neurosciences & Mental Health
Designations: PhD
Phone: 416-813-7654
Email: Sheena.josselyn@sickkids.ca
Alternate Contact Name: Diana Arthurs
Alternate Phone: 416 813-7654
Alternate Email: Diana.arthurs@sickkids.ca
U of T Positions: Professor, Departments of Psychology and Physiology
Chair Positions: CRC (Tier 1) in Circuit Basis of Memory

Biography

Sheena Josselyn is a Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and a Professor in the departments of Psychology and Physiology at the University of Toronto in Canada. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Brain Mechanisms underlying Memory, is a Senior Fellow in the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. 

Her undergraduate degrees and a master's degree in Clinical Psychology were granted by Queen’s University in Kingston (Canada). Sheena received a PhD in Neuroscience/Psychology from the University of Toronto with Dr. Franco Vaccarino as her supervisor. She conducted post-doctoral work with Dr. Mike Davis (Yale University) and Dr. Alcino Silva (UCLA). 

Dr. Josselyn received several awards, including the Innovations in Psychopharmacology Award from the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CCNP) and the Effron Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). 

Dr. Josselyn is interested in understanding how the brain encodes, stores and uses information. Several human disorders (ranging from autism spectrum disorder to Alzheimer’s disease) may stem from disrupted information processing. Therefore, this basic knowledge is not only critical for understanding normal brain function, but also vital for the development of new treatment strategies for these disorders.  

Research

Understanding how the brain uses information is a fundamental goal of neuroscience. Several human disorders (ranging from autism spectrum disorder to Alzheimer’s disease) may stem from disrupted information processing. Therefore, this basic knowledge is not only critical for understanding normal brain function, but also vital for the development of new treatment strategies for these disorders.  

Memory may be defined as the retention over time of internal representations gained through experience, and the capacity to reconstruct these representations at later times. Long-lasting physical brain changes (‘engrams’) are thought to encode these internal representations. The concept of a physical memory trace likely originated in ancient Greece, although it wasn’t until 1904 that Richard Semon first coined the term ‘engram’. Despite its long history, finding a specific engram has been challenging, likely because an engram is encoded at multiple levels (epigenetic, synaptic, cell assembly). Dr. Josselyn’s lab is interested in understanding how specific neurons are recruited or allocated to an engram, and how neuronal membership in an engram may change over time or with new experience. 

Education and experience

  • 2003–Present: Senior Scientist, Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Research Institute, Toronto, ON 
  • 2003–Present: Professor, Departments of Psychology, Physiology, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • 19982003: Research Associate, Department of Neurobiology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. Advisor: Dr. Alcino J. Silva 
  • 19971998: Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Advisor: Dr. Michael Davis 
  • 19961997: Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (now CAMH), Advisor: Dr. Howard Barbaree 
  • 19911996: PhD (Psychology, Neuroscience), Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. Advisor: Dr. Franco J. Vaccarino 
  • 19891991: MA (Clinical Psychology), Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. Advisor: Dr. Richard J. Beninger
  • 19871989: BA (Hons) (Psychology), Department of Psychology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON 
  • 19831987: B.Sc. (Hons) (Life Sciences), Queen’s University, Kingston, ON 

Achievements

  • 2019: UCLA Distinguished Lecture Award 
  • 2018: Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (Life Sciences Division) 
  • 2018: Pavlovian Society Research Award 
  • 2017: Senior Fellow, Massey College (University of Toronto) 
  • 2016: Senior Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) 
  • 2016: Brenda Milner Lecturer (University of Lethbridge) 
  • 2016: Bryan Kolb Lecture in Behavioural Neuroscience (University of Calgary) 
  • 2016–2023: Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Brain and Cognition Tier I 
  • 2014: Daniel H. Efron Research Award, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) 
  • 2012: Travel award from American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) 
  • 2009–2014: Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Molecular and Cellular Cognition Tier II (renewal) 
  • 2009: Innovations in Psychopharmacology Award, Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CCNP) 
  • 2008–2011: EJLB Scholar 
  • 2007: Molecular and Cellular Cognition Young Investigator Award 
  • 2007–2009: Alzheimer’s Society of Canada Young Investigators Award 
  • 2004: Daniel X. Freedman prize Honorable mention for outstanding basic research in mental health from NARSAD 
  • 2004–2009: Canada Research Chair in Molecular and Cellular Cognition Tier II

Journal Editor

  • Editorial board member: Cell, Neuron, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Genes to Behavior
  • Associate Editor: Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Co-editor (with Cristina Alberini, NYU and Li-Huei Tsai, MIT) of special issue of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (2014)
  • Co-editor (with Alcino Silva) of special issue of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (2018) Dedicated to Howard Eichenbaum
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Neuroscience (2016-2020)

Scientific Committee Membership

  • 2019–2020: Chair, Program Committee, Society for Neuroscience
  • 2016–Present: Chair, Brain Canada Science Advisory Council 
  • 2014–Present: Member, Brain Canada Science Advisory Council 
  • 2017–Present: Membership Committee (ACNP) 
  • 2014–2016: Member, CIHR Institute Advisory Board (IAB) for Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction 
  • Member of Program Committee ACNP, Society of Biological Psychiatry (SOBP)
  • 2010–2013: Society for Neuroscience Program Committee 
  • Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society (MCCS) Council
  • May 2013: Co-scientific organizer Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) conference
  • May 2014: Chief scientific organizer CAN conference 
  • July 2013: Co-Chair for Gordon Research Conference (GRC) – Amygdala in Health and Disease 
  • July 2015: Chair for Gordon Research Conference (GRC) – Amygdala in Health and Disease 

Publications

  1. Josselyn SA & Tonegawa S (2020). Memory engrams: Recalling the past and imagining the future. Science, 367, 6473-6480. PMID: 31896692 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw4325.
  2. Frankland PW, Josselyn SA, Kohler S (2019). The neurobiological foundation of memory retrieval. Nature Neuroscience, 37, 1576-1585. PMID: 31551594  
  3. Josselyn SA, Köhler S & Frankland PW. (2017). Heroes of the engram. Journal of Neuroscience, 37, 4647-4657. PMID: 28469009 
  4. Rashid AS, Yan C, Mercaldo V, Hsiang HW, Park S, Cole CJ, De Cristofaro A, Yu J, Ramakrishnan C, Lee SY, Deisseroth K, Frankland PW*, Josselyn SA* (2016). Competition between engrams influences fear memory formation and recall. Science, 353, 383-7. PMID: 27463673 
  5. Hsiang HL, Epp JR, Van den Oever MC, Yan C, Rashid AJ, Insel N, Ye L, Niibori Y, Deisseroth K, Frankland PW & Josselyn SA (2014). Manipulating a “cocaine engram” in mice. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 14115-14127. (PMID: 25319707).
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