News

Virtual SPiN workshop a resounding success

CPSR’s annual SPiN (Stroke Program in Neurorecovery) went virtual again this year, involving more than 70 trainees from Canada, the US, Northern Ireland, Mexico and Australia. Over four days, trainees heard from people living with stroke (see story below), were updated on the latest research developments, tools and techniques and visited labs from across Canada and around the world.

“One advantage of a virtual SPiN workshop is that it allowed us to take the trainees into the labs of geographically distant research institutions within a short timespan, something that could not have been easily done in person,” said Farrell Leibovitch, CPSR Director of Research and Training Programs. For example, trainees were able to visit Dr. Numa Dancause’s lab at the Universite de Montreal to learn about neural signalling, Drs Julie Bernhardt and Kate Hayward at the University of Melbourne in Australia to learn about clinical trials, and Dr. Gail Eskes’s lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax to learn about post-stroke cognitive rehabilitation, all within a 24-hour period.

Trainees also visited Dr. Lara Boyd’s Brain & Behaviour Lab at UBC to learn about microlesion analysis and Dr. Craig Brown at the University of Victoria to learn about 2-photon calcium imaging techniques. In addition to other talks by scientists such as Drs Amine Choukou (University of Manitoba), Avril Mansfield (KITE, Toronto Rehab-UHN), Kara Patterson (KITE, Toronto Rehab-UHN) and Bojana Stefanovic (Sunnybrook), there was also dedicated time for networking and opportunities for trainees to present their own research.

Results of the post-workshop survey revealed:

  • 100 per cent of attendees would recommend the workshop to other trainees
  • 100 per cent said they would attend again next year
  • 95 per cent said the educational value was excellent

Congratulations go to the National Trainee Association executive, co-chairs Jasmine Aziz, Lydia Kuhl, Michelle Legasto and Zanna Vanterpool, and to Farrell Leibovitch, CPSR’s Director of Training and Research Programs, and Karen Truong of Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Here are some of the comments received on the evaluations:

“SPiN was phenomenal. I truly expected it to be a little boring considering the circumstances of the pandemic and having to complete the workshop virtually, but it was amazing. The staff were great, super welcoming, and the networking options were such a good idea.”

“I really enjoyed seeing more of the methods/techniques that different labs are using. This is content you don’t get from meetings/seminars/papers.”

“Loved the lab demonstrations, very interesting. It was also great to have an international perspective from the Australian lab.”


“I really enjoyed the last set of lab rotations (from UBC). The fact that the gamified assessments were online meant that we could try them for ourselves instead of just watching – a surprise bonus for an online lab demo!”

“I look forward to SPiN each year! Thank you for another great experience 🙂

Zoom conference participants