Exit off canvas

Karen Davis

IMS Graduate Coordinator, 2002–2009 & IMS Associate Director, 2009 – 2012
Professor, Department of Surgery and Institute of Medical Science,
University of Toronto
Head, Division of Brain, Imaging and Behaviour-Systems Neuroscience
Krembil Research Institute
Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network


Years Active in the IMS: 1995 - Present

I am a neuroscientist striving to understand brain mechanisms underlying pain through electrophysiology, brain imaging, and psychophysics.  I accepted my first IMS graduate student in 1996 and since have had the pleasure to supervise 20+ students in their successful journeys through the IMS program.

My first service role in the IMS was on the student admissions committee in 2000. This led to serving as a Graduate Coordinator (2002–2009), Associate Director (2009–2012), and on numerous committees; experiences that are amongst the highlights of my career.

The IMS gave me much more than I could ever have imagined and I have many wonderful memories.  As a Graduate Coordinator and Associate Director, I mentored a broad spectrum of students and gained insight through their life stories, struggles, and accomplishments.  I was also afforded the opportunity to shape graduate programs after identifying the needs, knowledge and skill gaps of our students in the changing landscape of medical science.  I am proud of the popular module I developed to provide clinical insights for basic science students.  I am also especially proud of the research ethics programing for students and faculty, and the IMS Graduate Student Oath that I created with Mary Seeman that was published in Science (2008).

I received the IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship Award (2014) in recognition of my mentorship of my students. These successes and my scientific accomplishments, combined with my IMS teaching and administrative activities contributed to me being inducted in the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2009), and becoming a Mayday Pain and Society Fellow (2013).

My IMS experience helped me to appreciate that the most effective way to advance your ideas and make a difference, is to be involved at the decision-making table, especially in a leadership role. I would like to thank the countless IMS faculty, students, and staff for their contributions to the success of the IMS and to my own personal development.  I am a product of the guidance, mentoring, support, inspiration, and opportunities afforded to me, especially from Catharine Whiteside, Ori Rotstein, Mingyao Liu, Mary Seeman, and Howard Mount, Josie Chapman, Hazel Pollard, and Kamila Lear. We accomplished a great deal and had a lot of fun along the way!