Eskes Lab

Gail Eskes, Ph.D.


Originally an Army brat from the US, but now a Canadian citizen, my formative educational years were spent on Telegraph Avenue while attending graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, having fun playing Frisbee, browsing in the bookstores (Cody’s was a favorite), and eating in Chinese restaurants.  My early years of research for my undergraduate honour’s thesis and Ph.D. degree focused on neural control of behavioural rhythms in animal models in Irv Zucker’s lab and I extended my work to the neuroendocrine system during an NIH postdoctoral fellowship (PDF) at Dalhousie University, working with Will Moger and Mike Wilkinson in Physiology & Biophysics and Ben Rusak in Psychology. 

The arrival of my two sons during my PDF years coincided with a change in interests to clinical questions in autism and dementia, which eventually led to my clinical training at the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax and another PDF at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto with Don Stuss.  While the food was different on Bathurst Street and I had little time for play (spending all my free time on the QEW commuting between Hamilton and Toronto), I nevertheless had a great time learning about the frontal lobes from Don and about memory systems from Endel Tulving, Gus Craik and Morris Moscovitch.  I was also fortunate to work with Gord Winocur, stimulating my interest in using animal models to understand cognition.

The pull of the Maritimes brought us back to Halifax and I worked as a clinical neuropsychologist for 10 years at the Victoria General Hospital (which has now morphed into one large hospital complex called Capital Health).  My interest in stroke and its effects on cognition began with my clinical work with the acute and rehabilitation stroke teams and I've had the good fortune to be able to develop this and other research interests via a Clinical Research Scholar Award from the Faculty of Medicine. This award has allowed me to take up a faculty position in the Department of Psychiatry and to develop my research in cognitive rehabilitation and cognitive deficits/plasticity after brain injury using a variety of techniques from behavioural testing, cognitive training to functional imaging (see my page on research interests for more information on what we are doing now). I also love to teach and mentor students and have been involved in developing new classes or organizing workshops in a variety of areas, including attention disorders, neuroplasticity and rehabilitation, and brain imaging

Finally, I’m now or have been involved in a number of community activities or groups, including the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, Board of Governors of Armbrae Academy, and the Canadian Stroke Network.  I am particularly excited about bringing the science about Brain Fitness and Neuroplasticity to community groups, including public lectures for Brain Awareness Week, the Athenæum Society, Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Aphasia Association. My ultimate research goal is not only to help the ‘baby boomers’ age gracefully, but also to improve the lives of the individuals and their families who are affected by brain diseases or injury.  Come work with me and join us in trying to make a difference.