Judy Illes

Dr. Illes is Professor of Neurology and Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics at UBC. She is Director of Neuroethics Canada, and faculty in the Centre for Brain Health and at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. She received her PhD in Hearing and Speech Sciences, and in Neuropsychology at Stanford University, and became one of the pioneers of the field of neuroethics formally established in early 2000.

Dr. Illes’ research, teaching and outreach initiatives are devoted to ethical, legal, social and policy challenges at the intersection of the brain sciences and biomedical ethics. She has made groundbreaking contributions to neuroethical thinking for neuroscience discovery and clinical translation specifically in the areas of neuromodulation, neuropsychiatry, neurodevelopment, and neurodegeneration, and more broadly to entrepreneurship and the commercialization of health care.

In addition to her primary appointment in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC, Dr. Illes also holds associate appointments in Population and Public Health and in Journalism at UBC, and in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, USA. She is Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Vice Chair of the CIHR’s Internal Advisory Board of the Institute on Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction.  

Dr. Illes received the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian award, in December 2017. She was elected to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2011, Royal Society of Canada in 2012, and to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Division of Neuroscience) in 2013. She is immediate past President of the International Neuroethics Society, founded in 2006. She is also an elected member of the International Women’s Forum. Her latest books, a series on Developments in Neuroethics and Bioethics, feature pain, global mental health, and do-it-yourself brain devices.


Dr. Illes writes frequently for the Vancouver Sun and Canada’s The Conversation Canada, and hosts community outreach about challenging ethical problems involving biomedicine and the brain throughout BC and across the country.