Research Areas


Cell Communication and Signaling in Health and Disease

Cx30 G59R mutant in REK cells.  

Since the advent of microscopy and molecular biology techniques, we have gained a great deal of insight into the remarkable abilities of a cell.  We have learned that certain cell types, such as those of the immune system, have an innate capacity to migrate throughout the body; and others (namely stem cells) are immortal and can differentiate to repopulate entire tissues.  There are certain hallmarks that define the lifecourse of a cell: These include the ability to divide, to differentiate, to age and to die. 

Gap Junctions and Pannexins in Cancer.

Many human diseases, such as cancer or neurodegenerative diseases, occur because one or more of these key processes become deregulated. Cell biologists study these hallmarks, in order to understand how cells function so that errors can be corrected. Members of the Department study basic cellular processes such as stem cell differentiation and aging as well as pathologies such as Alzheimer disease, Huntington disease, prion diseases, stroke, schizophrenia, spinal cord injury and cancer.

Faculty: Arthur Brown, Dale Laird, Patrick Lajoie, Peeyush Lala, Peter Merrifield, Lynne-Marie Postovit, Marco Prado, Kem Rogers, Walter Rushlow, Paul Walton.


Cell Systems and Behavior


Single neurons within the brain communicate mostly through synapses. Together these neurons form brain circuits and large assemblies for processing and integrating sensory information. Ultimately, the brain needs to generate appropriate behavioral responses. Using a combination of classical methods along with novel techniques such as functional MRI and optogenetics we start to unravel the mystery of brain function. Genetic, developmental or environmental impacts often cause altered neuronal signalling that lead to mental disorders or neurodegenerative diseases. Often in collaboration with cell biologists members of the department study changes in neuronal signaling and behavior associated with tinnitus and hearing loss, schizophrenia, drug addiction, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, stroke, and psychopathic behavior  

Faculty: Brian Allman, David Cechetto, Steven Laviolette, Susanne Schmid, Shawn Whitehead, Derek Mitchell, Raj Rajakumar, Adrian Owen, Vania Prado.


Clinical Anatomy

Student measuring cerebral blood flow during learning tasks.  

The research undertaken in the Clinical Anatomy division is uniquely situated, adding wide research potential to the department.  Our faculty, adjuncts, collaborators, and students make transdisciplinary links and answer questions that span across clinical practice, educational scholarship, and the emerging ideas between the two ends of this research spectrum.  For example, faculty cooperating with clinicians have made important and overlooked anatomical quantification and impacts.  Recent investigations have advanced our knowledge regarding cartilage thickness at the elbow as it pertains to fracture, aortic arch mapping through computed tomography, comparisons of aortic root enlargement

Interactive model of cerebral ventricular filling.  

corrections through different surgical techniques, and helped delineate where nerves reside when a dental drill may come into play. Clinical anatomists often explore interfaces between face to face and online education; exciting projects undertaken through online education at the undergraduate level as it pertains to knowledge translation and the professional levels in the form of skill translation.  As students drill deeper into other areas of the clinical anatomy, the research spectrum widens

Future anatomists experimenting with 3D anatomy.  

further to incorporate digital modeling of anatomical structures like the head, brain structures, or reproductive system.  Incorporating digital learning objects into ever changing science curricula is a challenging and rich environment for inquiry.  This line of research is also undertaken within our division, asking questions pertaining to how undergraduate students digital models in their labs, what happens if the models or even entire courses are online, and what are the models doing to their ability to learn from them.  These examples represent but a slice of the ever growing network of people and projects here in Clinical Anatomy.

Faculty: Brian Allman, Francis Chan, Sandrine deRibaupierre, Khadry Galil, Marjorie Johnson, Kem Rogers, Peter Merrifield, Martin Sandig, Tim Wilson.


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