James Mackay

James Mackay completed his pharmacist training in 2008 and practiced community pharmacy in southern Alberta. During this time, James became interested in neuroscience, learning and memory. Subsequently, James joined William Colmers’ lab at the University of Alberta, where he studied an important brain area where fear-related memories are formed. James’ PhD research revealed fear circuits are silenced by a specific interneuron-type that releases large quantities of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. This inhibition is altered by neuropeptides and could be targeted for future anti-anxiety drugs. Additional collaborations during his PhD led to epilepsy and diabetes related publications. James joined Lynn Raymond’s lab at the University of British Columbia in 2016 as a postdoc and continues to explore themes of learning, memory and emotion in the context of age-related neurodegenerative disorders. James first examined how disease-related ER dysfunction alters activity-independent neurotransmission in Huntington’s disease (HD) and is currently studying cortical network activity in HD-model mice, as it relates to disease-related anxiety, depression and latter neurodegeneration.