Jerzy Olszewski Lecture: Neuron-Glia interactions: Critical roles in brain function


Montreal Neurological Institute Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre, 3801 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, CA


Dr. Brian A MacVicar
Co-Director, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health
University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health

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The lecture will be followed by a reception.

Speaker Bio

Dr. MacVicar’s research has focused on the interactions between nerve cells and the surrounding support cells of the brain called glia. In 1984 he was the first to show that glia previously thought to be inert can display neuronal-like active ion currents and responses to transmitters. Since then his work has shown that that glia are not just supporting cells but are active participants in brain activity, both responding to and altering activity of nerve cells. His work has shown that astrocytes, one type of glial cell, can alter cerebral blood flow by directly constricting or dilating blood vessels in the brain.  Dr. MacVicar’s lab has also shown how neuroinflammation acts on another type of glia, called microglia, to disrupt neuronal communication by causing a new form of long term depression possibly leading to memory deficits. These studies on glia published in Nature, Science and Neuron have transformed our concepts of how brain activity is controlled and on how cerebral blood flow is maintained to support a healthy level of brain activity.

Dr. MacVicar’s lab has also made several groundbreaking discoveries on the changes to nerve cells that occur during a stroke by showing that pannexin channels open, disrupting nerve cell integrity and thereby pointing to new targets for preventing neuronal death during stroke. His recent work, published in Cell, describes his discovery of a key but unexpected neuronal chloride channel that is required for brain edema, or swelling, and may be a novel therapeutic target to prevent brain damage arising from traumatic brain injuries. Finally, this year his lab has discovered that brain pericytes proliferate and migrate into regions of stroke damage to help regenerate cerebral blood vessels in a novel form of brain repair after stroke.

Dr. MacVicar obtained his PhD at the University of Toronto, and conducted his Postdoctoral training at the New York University Medical School; Since 1983, he has worked as Assistant, Associate and Full Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Calgary. In 2003 he was also appointed as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, and as a Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience. Since 2015, he has also served as a Co-Director of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH) at the University of British Columbia.

This lecture honors Dr. Jerzy Olszewski (1913-1964) a Polish-trained neuroanatomist and neuropathologist at The Neuro (1948 – 1956) interested in the functional implications of brain structure.

Contact Information

Deborah Rashcovsky
Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
debbie.rashcovsky [at]
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(514) 398-6047
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