Brian Christie (neuroscientist)

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Brian R. Christie (born 1964) is a Professor of Medicine and Neuroscience at The University of Victoria. He is the Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Victoria and a Michael Smith Senior Scholar Award winner. Dr. Christie received his PhD in 1992 from the University of Otago before doing postdoctoral work with Daniel Johnston at Baylor College of Medicine and Terrence Sejnowski at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and then became Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia.[1] Promoted to Associate Professor in 2007. Full Professor in 2013.


Dr. Christie's early research focused on heterosynaptic plasticity in the hippocampal formation.[2] During the course of this work, he discovered that prior synaptic activity could impact the capacity for synapses to subsequently show activity-dependent forms of plasticity, a phenomenon that he originally called "priming"but that has since been termed "metaplasticity". His Ph.D. work generated 9 publications on synaptic plasticity with Dr. Abraham. Following the completion of his Ph.D., he became interested in how calcium entered neurons, and began a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Dan Johnston. In this period he showed for the first time, using calcium imaging, that different types of voltage-gated calcium channels were not distributed homogeneously throughout neuron dendrites and somata. Moreover, he was able to show that certain types of voltage gated channels played a preferential role in long-term forms of synaptic depression, or LTD. Despite lasting only 2.5 years, this post-doctoral fellowship generated 8 publications. In 1996, Christie turned down several job offers at Canadian institutions and moved to the Salk Institute to work with Dr. T. Sejnowski. While his aspirations for becoming more involved in the computational modeling Dr. Sejnowski was known for were not realized, it was during this period that met Dr.'s Henriette van Praag and Fred "Rusty"Gage and became interested in neurogenesis. Together these individuals published four influential publications on adult hippocampal neurogenesis, with Christie performing the majority of the electrophysiological recordings.

Christie's research has shown that exercise promotes adult neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus.[3][4]

This work has since progressed to show that exercise can have beneficial effects for the brains of animals that have been exposed to ethanol while in the womb, an animal model of fetal alcohol syndrome effects. His current work continues to examine how exercise can benefit the brain. He is part of the Island Medical Program and the Division of Medical Sciences, a joint venture of the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria to increase the number of medical doctors being trained in Canada, and teaches neuroanatomy and problem-based learning (PBL) in this program .[1] His current research concentrates on how exercise generates new brain cells in people with Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), particularly in the hippocampus. Dr. Christie has more recently been involved in mild traumatic brain injury research at the University of Victoria and is the principal investigator for the Victoria site of a CIHR funded cross-Canada pediatric concussion study (primary investigator: Dr. Isabelle Gagnon).


His most cited peer-reviewed publications are:

  • van Praag, H., Schinder, AF., Christie, BR., Toni, N., Palmer, TD., Gage, FH. Functional neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus. (2002) Nature', 415 (6875), pp. 1030–1034. Cited 2069 times. HVP, AFS, BRC = Co-first authors.
  • Van Praag, H., Christie, B.R., Sejnowski, T.J., Gage, F.H. Running enhances neurogenesis, learning, and long-term potentiation in mice (1999) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96 (23), pp. 13427–13431. Cited 1831 times. HVP, BRC = Co-first authors
  • Johnston, D., Magee, J.C., Colbert, C.M., Christie, B.R. Active properties of neuronal dendrites (1996) Annual Review of Neuroscience, 19, pp. 165–186. Cited 507 times.
  • Farmer, J., Zhao, X., Van Praag, H., Wodtke, K., Gage, F.H., Christie, B.R. Effects of voluntary exercise on synaptic plasticity and gene expression in the dentate gyrus of adult male sprague-dawley rats in vivo (2004) Neuroscience, 124 (1), pp. 71–79. Cited 491 times.
  • Seamans, J.K., Durstewitz, D., Christie, B.R., Stevens, C.F., Sejnowski, T.J. Dopamine D1/D5 receptor modulation of excitatory synaptic inputs to layer V prefrontal cortex neurons (2001) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98 (1), pp. 301–306. Cited 312 times.

The h-index for his work is 38, that is, 38 articles cited 38 times or more.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Dr. Christie was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at the Foothills hospital. He enjoyed numerous sports as a child and was a member of city and/or provincial championship teams in football, basketball and soccer. Knee injuries hampered his university athletic career, however they also caused him to focus more on academic pursuits. After completing a master's degree in psychology, he left Canada to do his doctorate work in New Zealand, and there met his wife, Deborah Piper. Dr. Christie currently lives in Saanich, British Columbia with his wife and three children: Tanya, Tussak and Tiegen.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Island Medical Program profile". University of Victoria. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ "NMDA-dependent heterosynaptic long-term depression in the dentate gyrus of anaesthetized rats." Synapse (1992) 10(10):1-6
  3. ^ "A Brain Besieged" The San Diego Union - Tribune - San Diego, Calif. by Scott LaFee Nov 17, 1999 abstract
  4. ^ "Keeping fit can mean huge benefits for your brain: Neuron growth. by Katherine Dedyna, Canwest News Service, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009 National Post[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]