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B.Sc.(Hon), M.Sc., M.D. (Queen's) F.R.C.P.C.


Position: Jack Bell Chair in Schizophrenia Research, Professor

Office: 604 822 7310

Fax: 604 822 0399


Research Overview:

  • Translational research: applying neuroscience techniques to investigate brain disorders.
  • Clinical research: clinical trials and studies of risk factors for disease.

    Synaptic Proteins and Connectivity in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

  • A panel of monoclonal antibodies developed in the lab are used to investigate disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, aging, and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Distinct changes in amount, distribution and interactions of these proteins are found in each illness.
  • In vitro systems are being developed to study regulation of the synaptic proteins, and to permit screening for drug effects.

    Schizophrenia and related psychotic illness

  • The contribution of genetics, development and experience to the onset of schizophrenia is being studied in a large, catchment-area based population.
  • Brain imaging is used to investigate developmental and progressive components of schizophrenia.
  • The results of these projects may guide clinical studies of neurodevelopment in patients with schizophrenia, and help define the relevant aspects to study in animal models. Improving the methods of assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with chronic psychosis provides direct benefit to the patients and their families.
  • Clinical trials aim to define treatment responsive and treatment refractory components of psychotic illnesses.

    Aging and dementia

  • A large collaborative study is underway to investigate the role of "neural reserve" in brain aging, and the interaction with developing dementia. This study is led by Dr. David Bennett at Rush University in Chicago, and has recruited over 1000 subjects. Brain tissue from over 200 postmortem samples is being studied in my laboratory.

    Substance abuse

  • A large collaborative study investigated factors predisposing to developing persistent psychosis following use of methamphetamine. New studies will use brain imaging to investigate the basis for cognitive impairment and persistent psychosis in methamphetamine users, in parallel with animal models.
  • A new cohort study will investigate schizophrenia or affective psychosis, and substance induced psychosis in people at high risk for homelessness, living in single room occupancy hotels in Vancouver. The implications for psychosocial function and access to health services will be examined.


    1. Pajonk F-G, Wobrock T, Gruber O, Scherk H, Berner D, Kaizl I, Kierer A, Müller S, Oest M, Meyer T, Backens M, Schneider-Axmann T, Thornton AE, Honer WG, Falkai P (2010) Hippocampal plasticity in response to exercise in schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry 67:133-143.

    2. Barakauskas VE, Beasley CL, Barr AM, Ypsilanti AR, Li H-Y, Thornton AE, Wong H, Rosoklija G, Mann JJ, Mancevski B, Jakovski Z, Davceva N, Ilievski B, Dwork AJ, Falkai P, Honer WG (2010) A novel mechanism and treatment target for presynaptic abnormalities in specific striatal regions in schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacol (in press).

    3. Honer WG, Procyshyn RM, Chen EYH, MacEwan GW, Barr AM (2009) A translational research approach to poor treatment response in schizophrenia: clozapine-antipsychotic polypharmacy. J Psychiatry Neurosci 34:433-442.

    4. Beasley CL, Dwork AJ, Rosoklija G, Mann JJ, Mancevski B, Jakovski Z, Davceva N, Tait AR, Straus SK, Honer WG (2009) Metabolic abnormalities in fronto-striatal-thalamic white matter tracts in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Res 109:159-166.

    5. Honer WG, Thornton AE, Sherwood M, MacEwan GW, Ehmann TS, Williams R, Kopala LC, Procyshyn RM, Barr AM (2007) Conceptual and methodological issues in the design of clinical trials of antipsychotics for the treatment of schizophrenia. CNS Drugs 21:699-714.




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