Dr. Richard Wennberg reads brain waves like books. That’s exactly how he aims to understand and treat epilepsy as Professor of Medicine (Neurology) at the University of Toronto and Director of the University Health Network Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory.
Wennberg discovered an interest in neurology while pursuing his third degree at UBC. Working and studying alongside some of his mentors, he remembers recording Dr. Bernie Bressler’s neuroanatomy lectures and listening to them over and over again. He also proudly admits to still having photocopied versions of Dr. Sydney Friedman’s anatomy textbooks. He notes that this strong foundation in anatomy and neuroanatomy gave him an edge while pursuing his residency in neurology at McGill.
Wennberg knew he wanted to go to McGill as it was a world leader in neurology and neurosurgery and a centre that had been involved in the earliest developments of electroencephalography (EEG) – which became his passion. McGill was a great move for more than EEG – he met his wife there. She practices internal medicine.
Now, more than two decades later, Wennberg still considers detailed brain wave analyses the most promising way for the future of epilepsy treatment. Exciting progress in radiosurgery (precise radiation used to operate on specific areas of the brain) and magnetoencephalography (MEG, a more precise form of EEG that uses magnetic sensors to pick up brain activity) technologies are reinvigorating his field. He has just completed a PhD in the area of biophysics, specifically looking at new ways to use EEG and MEG to more accurately localize activity in the brain non-invasively.
It may just be a matter of time until this detective of the brain helps further advance treatments for epilepsy and improve countless lives.