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Our people

Research faculty

Basic scientists

Dr. Craig Brown

Dr. Craig Brown, BA (Man), MSc (Calgary), PhD (Calgary)
Ph: 250-853-3733
Visit Dr. Brown's web page

Research interests: Synaptic plasticity, stroke, diabetes, in vivo imaging

Dr. Brian Christie

Dr. Brian Christie, BSc (Calgary), MSc (Calgary), PhD (Otago)
Ph: 250-472-4244
Visit: Dr. Christie's web page

Department web page

Research interests: Hippocampus, learning and memory, developmental disorders, aging, sex differences, electrophysiology

Dr. Bruce Crawford

Dr. Bruce Crawford, BSc (UVic), PhD (Washington), MD (UBC)
Ph: 250-472-5518
Visit Dr. Crawford's web page

Research interests: Morphogenesis

Dr. Michele Martin

Dr. Michele Martin B.Comm, DVM,PhD.
Ph: 250-853-3694
Visit: Dr. Martin's web page coming soon

Research interests: Adoptive T Cell Therapy of Breast Cancer

Dr. Patrick Nahirney

Dr. Patrick Nahirney, BSc (Wash St), MSc (UBC), PhD (UBC)
Ph: 250-853-3659
Visit Dr. Nahirney's web page

Research interests: Synapse ultrastructure, myogenesis & muscle cell fusion, live-cell imaging & electron microscopy

Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne

Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne BSc (Guelph), PhD (Calgary)
Ph: 250-853-3723
Visit: Dr. Swayne's web page

Research interests: Neurogenesis and the bioelectric control of new neurons in healthy and injured/diseased brain. Evaluation of specific ion channels as therapeutic targets for brain repair

Dr. Stephanie Willerth

Dr. Stephanie Willerth, S.B (MIT), M.S. (Wash U), PhD (Wash U)
Ph: 250-721-7303
Visit Dr. Willerth's web page

Research interests: Tissue engineered scaffolds for promoting stem cell differentiation, novel drug delivery systems, and analysis of stem cell differentiation using next generation sequencing

Paul Zehr

Dr. Paul Zehr, PhD (U of A), MSc (McMaster), B.P.E. (McMaster)
Ph: 250-721-8379
Visit Dr. Zehr's web page

Research interests: neural control of rhythmic human movement; coordination of the arms and legs during locomotion; neuromuscular plasticity and motor recovery after stroke

Clinician researchers

Dr. Laura Arbour

Dr. Laura Arbour
Visit Dr. Arbour's web page

Research interests: medical genetics, genetic disorders and conditions specific to Indigenous populations, Long QT Syndrome, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) and birth defects

Dr. Nicole Fairbrother

Dr. Nichole Fairbrother
Visit Dr. Fairbrother's web page

Research interests: psychiatric epidemiology, perinatal and post-partum mental health

Dr. Morgan Price
Visit Dr.Price's web page

Research interests: informatics research, particularly Electronic Medical Records, Consumer Informatics and Personal Health Records, Continuity of Care Research and Improved Medication Use through Clinical Decision Support

Dr. Anthony Tang

Dr. Anthony Tang
Visit Dr. Tang's web page

Research interests: device therapy specific to cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure, efficacy of pacing therapy in patients with advanced heart failure


Dr. Stan Bardal

Dr. Stan Bardal, BA, BSP, PhD, Senior Instructor
Ph: 250-472-5542
Visit Dr. Bardal's web page

Research interests: pharmacology, angiogenesis, pharmacogenomics

Dr. Jane Gair

Dr. Jane Gair, BSc (McMaster), BSc (UBC), PhD (UBC), Senior Instructor
Ph: 250-472-5543
Visit Dr. Gair's web page

Research interests: medical genetics

Kurt McBurney

Kurt McBurney, B Ed, MA, Senior Instructor
Ph: 250-472-5536
Visit Kurt McBurney's web page


Lianne Peterson
Administrative Director


Evelyn Wiebe
Research Operations Coordinator


Karen Myers
Graduate Secretary

250-853-3129 or

Jennifer Graham
Animal Research Technician


Post Docs and Students

Patricia Brocardo

Patricia Brocardo – post doctoral fellow (Christie Lab)
Research area: alterations in behaviour (depression and anxiety) and biochemical pathways that are associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and how voluntary physical exercise can be used to reverse some of these alterations.

Joana Gil-Mohapel

Joana Gil-Mohapel – Research Associate (Christie Lab)
Research area: how adult neurogenesis is affected by neurodegenerative conditions as well as developmental disorders such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and how non-invasive therapeutic strategies such as environmental enrichment and voluntary exercise can be used to reverse deficits associated with these diseases.

Mariana Vetrici

Mariana Vetrici – post doctoral fellow (Christie Lab)

Research area: molecular characterization of behaviour and context discrimination, synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis in autism and Fragile-X Syndrome(FXS), a heritable form of mental impairment. Protemic profiling to correlate molecular differences to reduced neuroplasticity, atypical behaviours and clincial manifestations. Specifically, the effect of Fragile-X Mental Retardation Protein expression in the dentate Gyrus of knock-out mouse models of FXS.


Sonata Yau - post doctoral fellow (Christie Lab)

Research Area: The functional role of fragile X mental retardation protein on regulating synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus.

Kelly Tennant

Kelly Tennant - post doctoral fellow (Brown Lab)

Research Area: how diabetes negatively affects recovery of function following stroke. Kelly uses in-vivo two-photon imaging combined with behavioural measures of forelimb function to determine how changes in neurons and vasculture contribute to poor post-stroke recovery in diabetic mice. She is a recipient of a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research postdoctoral fellowship.

Kimberly Gerrow

Kimberly Gerrow - post doctoral fellow (Brown Lab)

Research Area: Nictoinic receptors in the brain have a very widespread distribution and their activity controls important aspects of neuronal communication and are involved in nicotine dependence, mood disorders, neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. Despite their importance, many aspects of  nicotinic receptor trafficking are unknown. I am interested in understanding the mechanisms that control nicotinic receptor trafficking in the cerebral cortex in vivo.

Anna Patten

Anna Patten - post doctoral fellow (Christie Lab)

Research Area: effect of Omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplementation, alone or in combination with exercise, on brain health, particularly when the brain has been previously damaged by diseases such as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Specific areas of interest are hippocampal neurogenesis, oxidative stress, molecular protein analysis and behaviour.

Mohamed Ghilan

Mohamed Ghilan - PhD

Research area: cellular mechanisms and altered receptor contributions to the differential effect of stress on learning and memory in a mouse model of autism and fragile X syndrome. Specific areas of interest are synaptic plasiticity, molecular analysis, and behaviour.

Please check out my website at:

This website is not affliated with the University of Victoria and in no way reflects the views of the University of Victoria.

Patrick Reeson - Ph.D.

Research Area: Diabetics are more likely to suffer a stroke, and when they do their prognosis for recovery is significantly worse. Previous work in the lab has established that the surviving cortical tissue in the diabetic brain is impaired in its ability to adapt to facilitate recovery. Given the importance of the cerebrovasculature to euronal function and the widespread vascular pathologies associated with diabetes, Patrick's work aims to understand how vascular dysfunction in the diabetic brain after stroke impairs plasticity and recovery. Patrick utilizes confocal and 2 photon microscopy to image the cerebrovasculature as well as molecula methods to study key angiogenic and vascular permeability factors such as VEGF.

Abdul Shehata - Ph.D.

Research Area: My research focuses on learning and memory under the umbrella of cortical plasticity. We have developed an associative learning paradigm in which mice must learn to distinguish between two stimuli presented simultaneously and each stimulus presented individually. Once the task is learned we will measure changes in cortical responsiveness using VSD imaging and attempt to manipulate the expression of the associative memory using optogenics.

Emily White - MSc

Research Area: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the  leading cause of death and disability in individuals under 45 years of age. My project will characterize the short and long term deficits brain trauma incurs on hippocampal synaptic plasticity, in an attempt to identify a mechanism of cognitive impairments related to learning and memory observed in young individuals who have experienced single or multiple mild TBIs. 

Zoe Sharp - MSc

Research Area: The effect of exercise on neurogenesis in fmr1 KO mice; Neurogenesis ( the production and survival of new neurons) is a process which is most active during development but is limited to only a few areas of the adult brain.

Multiple factors can influence neurogenesis including stress, diet, neurological disorders, and exercise. One such factor is fragile X syndrome (FXS) which is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability and is caused by a mutation of the fmr1 gene on the X chromosome. My research concentrates on a mouse model of FXS and whether voluntary exercise modulates neurogenesis in these animals.

Andrew Boyce - MSc

Research Area: Andrew's will focus his research on the physiological importance of the Pannexin-1C-terminus, particularly the implications of C-terminal caspase cleavage. His project will also include the analysis of Pannexin-1 interactors in the cellular environment with hopes to better understand the role of the C-terminal fragment after cleavage.

Leigh Wicki-Stordeur - Ph.D.

Research Area: Leigh's project is centred around uncovering the role of pannexin 1 (Panx1) in neural stem and progenitor cells (NSC/NPCs). Panx1 is an ion-and metabolite-permeable channel expressed in NSC/NPCs, as well as in other cell types within the body where it has been shown to play a role in various developmental processes. In the adult brain, NSC/NPCs undergo a multi-step process known as neurogenesis to give rise to new, fully functional neurons. Leigh is examining the impact of Panx1 on several steps of this neurogenic process, including NSC/NPC proliferation and differentiation, by controlling the expression/activity of Panx1 channels in NSC/NPC cultures. Furthermore, Leigh is using proteomic techniques to identify protein interaction partners of Panx1 in oreder to more thoroughly understand its role in NSC/NPCs.

Sammy Weiser-Novak - MSc

Research Area: Three Dimensional Ultrastructure of Synapses

Christine Fontaine - MSc

Research Area: Neonate rat pups are born deaf and blind, and must therefore rely on olfaction in order to navigate in their early environment. During this early stage of life, it is possible to create a 24h memory by pairing an odor with tactile stimulation, which is evident in both behaviorally and at the synaptic level in the olfactory bulb and piriform cortex. I am extending our findings from our hippocampal work in order to assess how prenatal ethanol exposure affects learning in olfactory structures. I am complimenting my behavioral work with in vitro electrophysiology and imaging of regions of interest within the olfactory system following ethanol exposure in order to assess damage. Ongoing work aims to rescue these learning deficits using dietary supplementation and/ or drug administration.

Alicia Meconi - MSc

Research Area: My research aims to investigate how oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfuntion in the hippocampus contribute to learning and memory impairment after a concussion. It will also determine whether antioxidant administration can rescue these learning and memory deficits.

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Upcoming Medical Sciences events

Message from Division Head

Links of interest

Find out more about our FASD Research Study here

Neuroscience Graduate Oral Defense

Funding Opportunities

Summer 2013 IMP/DMSC Newsletter

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