Born in Brazil, Margaret completed her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of São Paulo and was an associate professor at the University of Rio de Janeiro. In 2008 she was invited to work with Dr. David Colman, the former director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), where she joined the McGill Neuroengineering Program. Although, never having lived in Canada before, Margaret accepted his offer. She moved to Montreal and worked as a visiting scientist before becoming a research associate at the MNI and at the McGill Physics Department.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Margaret last week and listening to her story. What interested me most about her is how somebody with such a pinpoint focus in science could end up being the CEO of a company. How did she make the switch? While working for MNI, Margaret’s main task was to figure out how neurons recover after injury and to find a way to improve that recovery process. Essentially, she was trying to reconnect the nervous system for people who have had a traumatic injury. While conducting this research, Margaret found that it was very difficult to study the neurons outside of the body. When you take neurons out of the body they lose their form, become entangled and resemble a “spaghetti bowl”.
Once Margaret noticed this problem, she decided to take action. Margaret developed a device that, in simple terms, helps organize the neurons making them easier to study. Margaret started making these devices for colleagues and didn’t recognize it as a business opportunity until a company ordered 10,000 of them. At this point, she took action and decided to enter the McGill Dobson Cup. With three days until the application deadline, Margaret created a business plan and entered. She successfully made it through every round and ended up winning the 2014 McGill Dobson Cup. She then went on to participate in the McGill X-1 Accelerator program in 2015.
Margaret’s story is impressive. She made the transition from science to business in a matter of months. She combined her passion and idea into a company. Now, instead of helping one cause, her device is used to help many. But what makes her story really special is that she is a mother. With two children, Margaret decided to put complete faith in her idea and her abilities.
Margaret is extraordinary.