Brain Power: How Calvin Howard’s passion for science is advancing dementia research
Calvin Howard has a lot of impressive designations under his belt: neurologist, doctor, and most recently, he’s the founder of a new biomedical startup aiming to expedite diagnosing dementia in its early stages. It’s a striking resume by any standard, but his success didn’t come about overnight. Every journey has a beginning, and for Howard, that beginning was in a science class at Fort Saskatchewan High.
Throughout senior high, Howard was a well-rounded student, taking a range of classes, from calculus to drama. But he always felt drawn toward the sciences. “It was so interesting learning about how the world works,” he says. “Science always seemed to offer a way to apply your knowledge, to show your mastery of it. For example, the things we learn in physics class are directly related to concepts used in advanced neural imaging and the treatment of neurological diseases. Science gives you a way to change the world around you.”
Knowing the different sciences is crucial in Howard’s career. There was one class, particularly inspiring. “I still remember Mr. Grainger’s biology class when we learned about the brain for the first time,” he says. “I was struck by it. Studying the brain can provide an explanation to a lot of existential questions: What makes a person a person? What does it mean to be conscious? After that class, I started thinking about pursuing a future in neurology. I knew it was where I wanted to be.”
It wasn’t just the content that inspired Howard. It was also how it was presented, and how his teachers made him feel. Through that, it instilled a genuine curiosity and inspired Howard to think more about the world around him. Overall, Howard says senior high provided a solid foundation that allowed him to build his own success. “I don’t know if anyone can be truly prepared for life after high school,” he says. “But the public-school system gave me a robust foundation to take the next steps into university. It inspired me to follow my passion, and it helped me develop a work ethic. I owe a lot of my success in university to the teachers who got me to sit down and apply myself to my work.”