Dr. Brian Christie

Dr. Brian Christie
Division of Medical Sciences
Office: Medical Sciences Building, room 218

Neuroplasticity in the Developing and Aging Brain

Dr. Christie is a neuroscientist studying how the brains natural capacity for synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis can be harnessed to help alleviate neuropathologies associated with trauma, substance abuse, genetic disorders and the aging process. 

Dr. Christie’s profile on Google Scholar

Dr. Christie’s laboratory use a number of sophisticated research techniques (electrophysiology, imaging, molecular, behavioural analysis) in a convergent fashion to identify basic mechanisms involved in learning and memory processes, and how they have been altered by different neuropathologies. His team has made several seminal discoveries, and helped to show that exercise can enhance the production of functional new neurons in the hippocampus, a structure known to be critical for learning and memory processes.

Dr. Christie’s research truly spans from the cell to society, involving both pre-clinical basic research studies, as well as clinical investigations.  He believes that by focusing on how a phenomenon (i.e. neurogenesis) can impact a behavior (i.e. learning) that we will be better able to understand normal brain function, and how intrinsic repair processes can be harnessed to ameliorate cognitive deficits associated with a variety of pathological conditions. This may sound grandiose at first, but really we have to look no further than our own skin to see how effective self regenerative mechanisms can be when they respond appropriately.

Dr. Christie’s laboratory has received funding primarily from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and thee National Institutes for Health (NIH), but we have also been recipients of research support from private foundations that include: Fragile-X Research Foundations in Canada and the US (FXRFC, FRAXA), The Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation, Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation, Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, Roche Parmaceuticals, The Brown Family Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, and a number of private donors. Thanks to this funding many of our former lab trainees hold academic positions across Canada, and around the world. In addition, over 30 laboratory trainees are now practicing physicians in Canada, and we are proud to have averaged 2 trainees being accepted into medical schools each year for the past 15 years. This shows the high caliber of the trainees involved in our work.

Because of the quality of our trainees, and our technical capacity, we also have extensive research collaborations across Canada and around the world. Some of our international collaborations include:

Dr. Jennifer Thomas (San Diego State University) – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Catherine Winstanley (University of British Columbia) - Prenatal Cannabinoid Exposure and Adolescent Addictive Behaviours

Dr. Pedro Grandes (Spain) – Role of cannibinoids in traumatic brain injury and prenatal ethanol exposure

Dr. Sandy Shultz (Monash University, Australia) – Biomarkers in Traumatic Brain Injury

Dr. Christiane Wrann (Harvard University) and Dr. Henriette van Praag (Florida Atlantic University) – Exercise, myokines and synaptic plasticity

Dr. Sonata Yau (Hong Kong Polytechnic); Dr. Kwok-Fai So (University of Hong Kong) Adipokines and synaptic plasticity.

Dr.’s Patricia Brocardo, Ana Lucia Rodrigues, Marcelo Farina (Florianopolis, Brazil) – Lipids, anxiety, depression and neuronal plasticity

Dr. Manuella Kastor (Federal University of Santa Catarina) - anxiety, depression and neuronal plasticity

Dr. Leigh Leasure (University of Houston) – exercise, stress and neurogenesis

Dr. Tatiana Rosenstock (Santa Casa de São Paulo School of Medical Sciences)

Dr. Katerina Akassoglou (University of San Francisco) – microglia

Recent Publications

View all of Dr. Christie's publications


1. S Hasanpour, L Karperien, T Walsh, M Jahanshahi, Z Hadisi, KJ Neale, BR Christie, N Djilali, M Akbari. (2022). A hybrid thread-based temperature and humidity sensor for continuous wound monitoring. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical. 370: 132414.

2. EL Grafe, MMM Wade, CE Hodson, JD Thomas, BR Christie. (2022). Postnatal Choline Supplementation Rescues Deficits in Synaptic Plasticity Following Prenatal Ethanol Exposure. Nutrients. 14(10): 2004.


1. MR Islam, S Valaris, MF Young, EB Haley, R Luo, SF Bond, S Mazuera, RR Kitchen, BJ Caldarone, LEB Bettio, BR Christie, AB Schmider, RJ Soberman, A Besnard, MP Jedrychowski, H Kim, H Tu, E Kim, SH Choi, RE Tanzi, BM Spiegelman, CD Wrann. (2021). Exercise hormone irisin is a critical regulator of cognitive function. Nature Metabolism. 3(8): 1058-1070.

2. Jonathan S Thacker, Delaney Andersen, Stanley Liang, Natalia Zieniewicz, Juan S Trivino-Paredes, Patrick C Nahirney, Brian R Christie. (2021). Unlocking the brain: A new method for Western blot protein detection from fixed brain tissue. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 348(1): 1-9.

3. Thomas H Lee, Ahadullah, Brian R Christie, Kangguang Lin, Parco Ming-fai Siu, Li Zhang, Ti-fei Yuan, Pragya Komal, Aimin Xu, Kwok-fai So, Suk-yu Yau. (2021). Chronic AdipoRon Treatment Mimics the Effects of Physical Exercise on Restoring Hippocampal Neuroplasticity in Diabetic Mice. Molecular Neurobiology. 1: 1-16.

4. EL Grafe, CJ Fontaine, JD Thomas, BR Christie. (2021). Effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on cholineinduced long-term depression in the hippocampus. Journal of Neurophysiology. 126(5): 1622-1634.

5. Snowden, T. Reid, H. Kenny, RA. McQuarrie, A. Stuart-Hill, L. Garcia-Barrera, M. Gawryluk, J. Christie, BR. (2021). Heading in the right direction: A critical review of studies examining the effects of heading in soccer players.Journal of Neurotrauma. ePub: 1-10.

6. HMO. Reid,TM. Snowden,I Shkolnikov, KR Breit, C Rodriguez, JD Thomas, BR Christie. (2021). Prenatal alcohol and cannabis exposure can have opposing and region-specific effects on parvalbumin interneuron numbers in the hippocampus. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 45(11): 2246-2255.

7. T.H. Lee, B. R. Christie, H. van Praag, K. Lin, P. M-F. Siu, A. Xu, K-F So, S-y Yau. (2021). AdipoRon Treatment Induces a Dose-Dependent Response in Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22(2068): 1-15.

8. Itziar Bonilla-Del Río, Nagore Puente, Amaia Mimenza, Almudena Ramos, Maitane Serrano, Leire Lekunberri, Inmaculada Gerrikagoitia, Brian R Christie, Patrick C Nahirney, Pedro Grandes. (2021). Acute Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol prompts rapid changes in cannabinoid CB1 receptor immunolabeling and subcellular structure in CA1 hippocampus of young adult male mice. Journal of Comparative Neurology. 1(1): 1-15.

9. H.M.O. Reid, N. Chen-Mack, T. Snowden, B.R. Christie. (2021). Understanding Changes in Hippocampal Interneurons Subtypes in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review. Brain Connectivity. ePub(1): 1-21.

Current Christie Laboratory Trainees Include:

Dr. Crystal Acosta, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Eric Eyolfson, Postdoctoral Fellow

Erin Grafe, PhD Candidate (NRSC)
Hannah Reid, PhD Candidate (NRSC)
Taylor Snowden, PhD Candidate (NRSC)
Rebecca Phillips, PhD Candidate (INTD)
Alanna Kit, PhD Candidate (NRSC)

Erin Grafe, PhD Candidate (NRSC)
Hannah Reid, PhD Candidate (NRSC)
Taylor Snowden, PhD Candidate (NRSC)
Rebecca Phillips, PhD Candidate (INTD)
Alanna Kit, PhD Candidate (NRSC)

Emily Bosdachin, Research Technician

Undergraduate Researchers

Emma Skaug (Honors, EPHE)
Kirsten Suesser (Honors, Biol)
Annika Willoughby (USRA recipient)
Jamie Morrison
Katherine Ball
Peri Donaghy
Charuta Sahasrabudhe (JCURA recipient)
Emily Funnekotter
Adam Gheis
Madison Yanish
Hirsh Bhatti
Victoria Green
John Dash

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant (2022/07-2027/06) Drinking with Mary Jane: Understanding sex differences in the effects of prenatal marijuana and alcohol consumption for learning and memory processes.

FRAXA Research Foundation (2021/07- 2023/07) Contribution of Microglia to the Therapeutic Effects of Metformin and Adiponectin in Fragile X Syndrome.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant 2021/4 - 2026/3
Bringing focus to the invisible injury: Defining a role for microbleeds and microglia in mild traumatic brain injury.

NSERC Discovery Grant 2019/7 - 2024/6
Exercise and hippocampal bidirectional synaptic plasticity

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) RO1 2018/4 - 2023/3
Fetal Alcohol Effects and Choline Intervention
Principal Investigator : Jennifer Thomas

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Bridge Grant 2021/4 - 2023/3
Drinking with Mary Jane: Understanding how consuming alcohol and marijuana during pregnancy impacts the developing brain.

FRAXA Research Foundation Grant 2021/7 - 2022/6
Contribution of Microglia to the Theraputic Effect of Metformin and Adiponectin in Fragile X Syndrome.

New Frontiers in Research Fund Exploration 2019/9 - 2021/9
Building the blood brain barrier on a chip to treat Alzheimer's disease.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) SPOR Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research 2020/9 - 2022/8
SPOR Regional Centre Fellowship (Snowden-Richardson) - Train your Brain: Can Three Dimensional Multiple-Object Tracking Improve Cognition and Daily-Life Functions in Individuals with Moderate to Severe Brain Injury?

Azrieli Foundation Back on track from COVID-19 2020/7 - 2021/6
Back on Track from COVID19: Therapeutic potential for activation of endogenous AMPK activators in Fragile-X Syndrome.

FRAXA Operating grant / Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada 2019/5 - 2021/4
Adiponectin as a potential therapy in Fragile X Syndrome.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Research Tools and Instruments 2020
Vapor Drug Delivery System, Grant, Equipment

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Catalyst 2019/5 - 2022/4
Double Jeopardy: Effects of Prenatal Cannabis and Ethanol Exposure on hippocampus structure and function.

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) (State of São Paulo Research Foundation) SPRINT 2018/7 - 2022/6
Age related mitochondrial metabolism and its relationship with neurogenesis in an animal model of schizophrenia.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant 2018/4 - 2019/3
Bidirectional Structural and Functional Plasticity in the Aging Brain.