Neurology professor Dr. Judy Illes, CM, has been appointed the first UBC Distinguished Scholar in Neuroethics in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of neuroethics.
A pioneer in her field, Dr. Illes — who is also a Distinguished University Scholar and director of Neuroethics Canada — has made ground-breaking contributions to the ethical, legal, social and policy challenges at the intersection of the brain sciences and biomedical ethics.
In this position, Dr. Illes will accelerate applied research, teaching and outreach initiatives in neuroethics aimed at improving the health outcomes of people and populations. The position was created in the UBC Faculty of Medicine thanks to a gift from the North Family Foundation.
“I look forward to scaling up our work that directly aligns ethics with neuroscience discovery, translation and outreach,” says Dr. Illes. “This includes engaging the public in understanding the workings of the central nervous system for brain and mental health, anticipating and providing ethical and culturally meaningful approaches for new methods for detecting disease and treatments in healthcare and the commercial sector, and promoting public trust in science overall. I am grateful to the North Family Foundation — their support for neuroethics mirrors the visionary nature of the field of neuroethics itself.”
As the UBC Distinguished Scholar in Neuroethics, Dr. Illes will work with her colleagues at Neuroethics Canada to advance research into some of most pressing neuroethical challenges facing society, from patents and intellectual property, to the application of neurotechnology for epilepsy and opioid use disorders, spinal cord injury and more.
Neuroethics Canada currently has sites at UBC’s Vancouver campus, BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital led by Dr. Julie Robillard and the University of Manitoba led by Dr. Patrick J. McDonald.
“I look forward to scaling up our work that directly aligns ethics with neuroscience discovery, translation and outreach.”
Dr. Judy Illes
Dr. Illes has a strong focus on justice and diversity in her work through research in Indigenous population health. This follows the successful completion in 2015 of a multidisciplinary initiative with a remote First Nations community surrounding a genetic mutation causing early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Most recently, with one of her graduate students, she has been working on exploring Indigenous methods for studying brain and mind. Most recently during the pandemic, she has further exemplified this commitment through her research pertaining to the brain health outcomes of vulnerable and marginalized populations affected by COVID-19.
Dr. Illes is a faculty member in the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, and associate faculty in the School of Population Health and School of Journalism at UBC. Among her many leadership roles, she is vice chair of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Advisory Board of the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, member of the American Academy of Neurology Ethics, Law and Humanities Committee, director-at-large of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and co-lead of the Canadian Brain Research Strategy.