Division of Medical Sciences

Swayne in a lab

Growing new neurons to heal injured brains

Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne's neuroscience research reveals that injuries to the brain trigger the creation of new cells, which migrate to the site of the injury. Find out more in this knowlEDGE publication.

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Students at the Christie Lab

Research resources, laboratories and facilities

The Christie Lab employs a sophisticated array of electrophysiological, immunohistochemical, molecular and behavioral research methods to study mechanisms of learning and memory and how they are affected by age, brain injury, alcohol exposure and genetic disorders.

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Dr. Craig Brown

Medical research to help communities

The Division of Medical Sciences is involved in leading-edge neuroscience research that will assist communities in addressing their health needs.

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Student looking through microscope

Graduate studies

We are involved in interdisciplinary research and teaching related to medical education. Our main focus is on graduate studies (MSc and PhD).

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Dr. Patrick Nahirney

Award winning faculty

Learn about our neuroscience faculty members—their publications, research, grants—and find contact information for an individual.

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Stephanie Willerth using a microscope

Cells of hope

Stem cells hold tremendous promise for treating disease. But first we need to understand how they work. Find out more about our research.

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Medical Sciences

The Division of Medical Sciences was established to promote scholarship and innovation in medical education at the University of Victoria and to support the university's ongoing commitment to an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to health research.

Our academic and research structure underpins the Island Medical Program, part of the UBC MD Undergraduate Program.

Partnering with other UVic departments and research centres, we're contributing to breakthroughs in medical sciences that will impact the prevention and treatment of cancer, neurological disorders and diseases, genetic disorders and other medical conditions.

Study neuroscience at UVic

Learn about the university's first interdisciplinary graduate program in neuroscience.

Download our latest newsletter or check out our latest news items below:

Vanier scholar Christine Fontaine sets her sights on a career in academia

Christine Fontaine, PhD graduate student in the Neuroscience graduate program, has been awarded the NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship for 2013-14 for her research in behavioural neuroscience.

Message from Division Head

On July 1st, 2014 I joined the University of Victoria as the new Head, Division of Medical Sciences at the University of Victoria.

Experimental Biology 2014

Brianne Lindsay (Nahirney Lab) won the Best Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation Award given by the American Association of Anatomists at the 2014 Experimental Biology Annual Meeting held in San Diego, CA on April 29, 2014.

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research 2014 Scholar Award

The UVic Division of Medical Sciences is pleased to announce that Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne was selected as a recipient of a prestigious 2014 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Scholar Award, jointly funded in partnership with the BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation.

UVic Research in the News

Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne attended the Advances in Stroke Recovery meeting in Ottawa earlier this month, organized by the Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery. Dr. Swayne was interviewed by radio 1310 News about her research involving the drug Probenecid which is commonly used to treat gout and how it may boost brain recovery after stroke.

Winter 2014 newsletter

Download our winter 2014 newsletter.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) research study

We are looking for children, aged 10-16 years to participate in an engaging, 12-week exercise program (30 minutes per session, 3 times/week), based around fun computer games and stationary bikes. This is part of a study aimed at examining the impact of an aerobic exercise intervention on learning, memory, mood, behaviour in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Read more.

2013 year in review

I invite you to read the Winter 2014 (PDF) edition of our newsletter to find out more about what our Division faculty, post-docs and students are doing.
  • 2011 NSERC RTI Grant (17K) for stereology equipment
  • 2010 Opportunities Initiative Award (Principal Investigator) Project title: Using cardiovascular exercise to elevate levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor and enhance cognition in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

Read more about Dr. Christie.

  • Heart & Stroke Foundation Centre for Stroke Recovery National Expansion ($98,000, 2013-2015) Preclinical testing of probencid for stroke recovery, PI: Swayne
  • CFI - LOF/BCKDF:($30,000) Live and fixed cell neuro-imaging facility, PI: Swayne - funded confocal microscope (install April 2013)
  • Victoria Heritage Foundation: Fellowships for graduate students in the area of biomedical and neuroscience. Amount awarded:$6K (January 2012-June 2012)
  • NSERC Early Career Supplement (2012-2013, $10,000) Pannexin signalling in neural progenitor cells, PI: Swayne
  • NSERC Engage Grant ($25,000, 2013) in partnership with StressMarq - Generation of novel Pannexin antibodies, PI: Swayne
  • 2011 NSERC Discovery Grant (2011-2016, $180K) Project Title: Pannexin signalling in neural progenitor cells,PI: Swayne

Read more about Dr. Swayne.

Read more about Dr. Brown.


  • NSERC Discovery Grant - $125K for a 5 year study of the effects of prenatal stress on synapse ultrastructur. This project focuses on brain development and function from a structural perspective by utilizing electron microscopic imaging to pinpoint alterations in synapses and neurons.
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and BC Knowledge and Development (BCKDF) - $375K Leaders Opportunity Fund used for the purchase of a new transmission for electron microscope.
  • Victoria Foundation - $6K to support graduate student working on muscle development.
  • Victoria Firefighters - $20K for Skin Grafting Pilot Study

Read more about Dr. Nahirney

Read more about Dr. Willerth.

The purpose of this award is to recognize and reward excellence in teaching and education in the Division of Medical Sciences at UVic.

Nominees are full-time faculty who have completed at least three consecutive years of teaching at the Island Medical Program or the Division of Medical Sciences. The award is adjudicated by the Teaching Award in Medical Sciences Committee, chaired by Dr. Darlene Hammell.

2013-2014 Teaching Award in Medical Sciences Recipient

Kurt McBurney

Congratulations to Kurt McBurney, senior instructor and this year's recipient of the Teaching Award in Medical Sciences 2014.

The purpose of this award is to recognize and reward excellence in teaching and education in the Division of Medical Sciences at UVic. Nominees are full-time faculty who have completed at least three consecutive years of teaching at the Island Medical Program or the Division of Medical Sciences. The award is adjudicated by the Teaching Award in Medical Sciences Committee, chaired by Dr. Darlene Hammell.

Colleagues and students remarked on Kurt's professionalism and described him as a highly effective instructor, who brings energy, grace and fun into the classroom.

Kurt will be recognized for this award, along with other award recipients from faculties across UVic, at the UVic Learning and Teaching Centre's annual recognition event in February 2015.

Please join us in congratulating Kurt on this achievement.