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neuroscience bandwagon as ‘brain gurus’ and marketing the latest product or magic-bullet solution based on inaccurate, outdated, or even mythical neuroscience.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 a neuroscientist and science communicator who specialises in translating brain science research into simple, actionable strategies for peak performance, creativity, health and wellbeing.
Sarah grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, and she completed BSc(Hons) at Otago University before heading to Oxford University for her Masters and PhD training. She sums up her thesis with the words, ‘Nature, Nurture or Neuroplasticity’. After moving to Sydney, Australia, she completed five years postdoctoral research in brain plasticity and injury research. She then hung up her lab coach to pursue a career in science communications.
Sarah is the author of The Women's Brain Book—The neuroscience of health, hormones and happiness which explores the female lifespan through the lens of neurobiology. In 2019, Sarah hosted an episode of ABC's Catalyst exploring brain health, bio-hacking and longevity. Sarah is the director of The Neuroscience Academy, which offers professional development program in applied neuroscience and brain health. In 2020, Sarah will In 2020, Sarah will take part in Homeward Bound, a women-in-STEMM leadership expedition to Antarctica.
Sarah has been published extensively for consumers and professional audiences. She’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Grazia, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and Body & Soul, and can be seen and heard on SBS Insight, ABC Radio National, Radio National, ABC Catalyst, and Channel 7.
Sarah lives on the Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her Irish husband and together they are raising two surfer dudes and can be found surfing, sailing, ocean swimming and occasionally back in NZ mountain biking or skiing.
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!