Let me be your neuro-guide.
Too often neuroscience research is hidden behind the pay-wall of academic journals, presented at scientific meetings for other scientists, or presented in a way that is irrelevant to our daily lives.
This is ok, if you're a scientist.
Sometimes, the opposite is true — people with no training in brain science and little understanding of the complexities of research are jumping on the neuroscience bandwagon as ‘brain gurus’ and marketing the latest product or magic-bullet solution based on inaccurate, outdated, or even mythical neuroscience.
This is not ok, and makes scientists such as me very cranky.
Knowledge shapes expectations about our health. I created Your Brain Health and my accompanying online program The Neuroscience Academy so you can discover, understand and implement evidence-based neuroscience strategies into your life and work.
Yes, I err on the side of science, but with a good dose of warmth and humility.
About Dr Sarah McKay
I’m a neuroscientist, director of The Neuroscience Academy, and author of The Women's Brain Book.
I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, and here is the rather long-winded story of how I ended up doing what I do …
In my first year at university, I was inspired to study neuroscience after reading Oliver Sacks’ seminal work ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.’ After completing a degree in Neuroscience at Otago University in New Zealand (one of the first cohorts anywhere to graduate with a neuroscience degree), I won a Wellcome Trust scholarship to complete my MSc and PhD at Oxford University (and got to follow in Sacks’ footsteps!).
I spent my time at Oxford learning the fine art of electrophysiology and figuring out how to sum up my thesis in just a few words — I finally came up with ‘Nature, Nurture or Neuroplasticity?’.
In 2002, my Irish husband (who I met at an Oxford college where we were partying
like because it was 1999) and I headed to Sydney, Australia in search of sunshine, surf and a sailboat. We found them all!
Career-wise what followed was a short stint helping rewrite breast cancer clinical practice guidelines at the National Breast Cancer Centre (now Cancer Australia) and then five years of neuroscience research and teaching. I worked on the immune system response to spinal cord injury at the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute (now NeuRA), and later explored neuroplasticity in deafness at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
PASSIONATE as I was about neuroscience, I found myself getting frustrated with failed experiments, the grant application merry-go-round, and the unbearable slowness of the academic publication process (I spent much time wondering how was the world going to learn about science via academic journals). I preferred chatting about my research with public tour groups, teaching medical students, and writing for online science Q&A forums (back in the olden days before social media!).
After much soul-searching, I decided to put down the pipette, hang up my lab coat, and follow my passion of writing and talking about science and medicine.
Since 2008, I’ve combined running my health education and science communications business with raising my two boys on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. And, yes, our lifestyle IS as good as that sentence makes it sound. We go to the beach as often as we can, it’s sunny, and we even go surfing in the middle of winter!
I miss the lab, the intellectual challenge of research, and the many dedicated, inspiring and creative scientists I used to spend my days with. But I believe I've found the best of both worlds in sharing neuroscience with the public via my book, speaking and online professional development programs.
A recent newspaper piece about my business can be read here.
The ‘Official’ Bio
Dr Sarah McKay is an increasingly influential brain health commentator, neuroscientist and presenter who specialises in translating brain science research into simple, actionable strategies for peak performance, creativity, mental health and wellbeing.
Sarah is a host of the ABC TV science who Catalyst, author of The Women's Brain Book (Hachette 2018), and director of The Neuroscience Academy, which offers professional development programs that focus on applied neuroscience,
Dr McKay completed a MSc and PhD in neuroscience at Oxford University in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. She sums her PhD thesis up in four words, ‘Nature, Nurture or Neuroplasticity?’ After five years at the lab bench conducting neuroplasticity research, Sarah worked up the courage to hang up her lab coach and pursue a career teaching others about the mind and brain. She lives on the Northern Beaches in Sydney, Australia with her husband and together they are raising two little surfer dudes.
Sarah combines a wry sense of humour with an uncompromising mind and a natural ability at making the complex simple and practical. Whether she is writing, speaking or teaching, she tells impeccably researched evidence-based stories in a simple, fun and compelling way.
Sarah writes for numerous publications and has been published extensively for consumers and professional audiences. She’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Australian Women’s Health, Daily Life, Sydney Morning Herald, Body & Soul, and has been heard and seen on SBS Insight, ABC Radio National, Balance by Deborah Hutton, Channel 7, The Exchange TV and others. Sarah is currently a host of the ABC science TV show Catalyst.
Sarah has won numerous awards for her blog, in particular for supporting wellness and mental health. Sarah’s blog can be read by visiting, www.yourbrainhealth.com.au and The Neuroscience Academy can be found at theneuroacademy.com
P.S. I'm not a medical doctor. I'm PhD trained scientist. Please read my DISCLAIMER about consulting a professional medical doctor for any advice or concerns you may have about your own or someone else’s health and wellbeing.
And click here if want to double check my academic credentials and rather short list of academic publications!