brain

3D bioprinting personalized neural tissues for drug screening

Bioprinting can produce living human tissues on demand, opening up huge possibilities for medical breakthroughs in both drug screening and developing replacement tissues. The Willerth lab was the first group in the world to use the cutting edge RX1 bioprinter from Aspect Biosystems to bioprint neural tissues similar to those found in the brain using stem cells derived from healthy patients. Similar tissues can be printed using stem cells derived from patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, recapitulating the disease phenotype in a dish.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Driving Brain Recovery and Enhanced Community Walking with Dual-Task Training After Stroke

Over 400,000 Canadians live with long-term disability from stroke. Stroke survivors say regaining walking ability is a top priority; but, poor cognition, or thinking abilities, can limit walking in the community. How much walking recovery someone achieves likely stems from the brain's ability to dual-task (DT), like walking while talking. In fact, almost 80% of stroke survivors struggle with some aspect of cognition limiting full walking recovery after stroke.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Investigating the Biomechanical Mechanism of Concussions in Sports

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), commonly known as concussion, is a major public health concern. Around 42 million of the world's population sustain mTBIs annually. In Canada, ice hockey has the highest sports concussion rates in children and youth. In British Columbia, 2.4 million dollars were spent on hospitalization for mTBI in 2010. Furthermore, recent studies have linked multiple mTBIs from sports with heightened risk of long term brain changes.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2019

Knowledge translation for a new understanding of sexual pain in endometriosis

Co-leads:

  • Paul Yong
    University of British Columbia
  • Jessica Sutherland
    BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre

Trainee:

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2018

Cerebrovascular burden and cognitive impairment after spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a complex pathophysiology, characterized not only by paralysis but also severe autonomic cardiovascular dysfunction. After SCI, strokes are 300 - 400% more likely to occur compared to non-disabled individuals.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2018

Effect of exogenous ketone supplementation on brain blood flow, metabolism, and cognitive function in Type II Diabetes

Exogenous ketone body (KB) ingestion is an emerging therapeutic strategy for combating the harmful health conditions associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D), including a heightened risk for neurological disease and cognitive decline.

Evidence from animal models and early studies in humans supports its potential; however, high-quality research trials examining the effect of KB ingestion on brain function in humans with T2D have not been performed.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2018

Imaging repair: Developing and applying unconventional neuroimaging methods for quantitative assessment of tissue health

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful tool for measuring changes in the brain and spinal cord that occur over the course of neurological disease. Unfortunately, conventional MRI is qualitative, so the biological cause of the changes seen on MRI is difficult to determine.

Damage to myelin, the substance that surrounds the nerve fibres (axons) of the brain and spinal cord to speed up signal transmission and protect the axons themselves, is a common feature for many neurological diseases. While myelin can be repaired, axonal damage is irreversible.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2018

Neuromodulation research program for youth addiction and mental health

Each year, approximately 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem. Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and substance use than other age groups.

Depression is one of the most common mental illness, but current treatments are either ineffective or lead to side effects in up to 50% of youth. In youth, medications are often borrowed from adult population not accounting for age-related brain differences. New solutions are needed to address major gaps in treatment of youth mental health.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2018

Cerebral Oximetry to assess CErebral autoregulation in Hypoxemic Ischemic Brain Injury (COnCEpT – HIBI)

There are 40,000 patients who suffer a cardiac arrest in Canada each year. When the heart stops beating from a cardiac arrest, blood flow to the brain stops which can lead to large strokes, called ischemic brain injury. Only a small percentage of people who develop ischemic brain injury survive with normal brain function.  

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

The effects of balance training with or without cognitive training in older adults with MCI and impaired mobility

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between normal cognitive function and dementia. The rate of progression of MCI to dementia in older adults has been found to be between 10-12% per year, whereas those without cognitive impairment acquire dementia at a rate of only 1-2% per year. MCI has been linked to poor dual-tasking, impaired balance and functional mobility, and is a significant risk factor for falls. Individuals with MCI need preventive therapies that target both the cognitive and mobility-related outcomes. Dr.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017

Development of a flow cytometry assay for accurate and selective measurement of lysosomal GBA1 activity in PBMC

Recently, loss-of-function mutations of the GBA1 gene, which encodes glucocerebrosidase (GCase), have been characterized as a major genetic risk for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients carrying these mutations have a much higher incidence of PD, earlier onset, and more severe disease. 

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017

Tissue engineered human cerebral blood vessels: A platform for lipoprotein studies on cerebrovasculature health

With every heartbeat, one quarter of all the blood in the body flows through the brain. This activity is essential for the health of neurons in the brain throughout life.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017
Health Category: 

Precise prescription of rTMS for treatment resistant depression

Dr. Vila-Rodriguez's research will work towards improving diagnostic accuracy and treatment outcomes in persons suffering treatment-resistant depression (TRD). By incorporating neurophysiological-based biomarkers (NPBs) into clinical practice, treatment response can be more easily predicted, preventing relapse in patients with major depressive disorder.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017
Health Category: 

The role of the norepinephrine system in emotionally-biased attention and learning

Individuals vary widely in the aspects of the world they perceive and remember: some filter their environments through rose coloured glasses to perceive sources of pleasure, while others are attuned to signs of threat. Such affective biases in attention influence memory and characterize mood disorders and pathological responses to trauma as well as addictive behaviours. Yet much remains to be learned about neural mechanisms underlying such biases, and the factors that influence their development and potential for change.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017
Health Category: 

Genetic dissection of neuronal pattern formation

Neurological diseases and disorders have been estimated to affect 3.6 million Canadians living in the community and over 170,000 Canadians living in long-term care facilities, including in British Columbia. However, we have limited information about the molecular mechanisms that cause many of those neurological conditions, largely because of the complexity of our nervous system. Therefore, understanding the mechanical processes that impart precise neural circuit formation using a simple model organism is critical to try to find ways to prevent neurological diseases and cure patients.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2017
Health Category: 

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