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Dr. Liisa Galea

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Discovery

Cluster Lead Director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience Professor Scientific Advisor, Women's Health Research Institute

Department of Psychology

Liisa Galea leads the Women's Health Research Cluster and is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, Health Advisor to VPRI, a member of the Centre for Brain Health and a Scientific Advisor at Women’s Health Research Institute at the University of British Columbia. My research investigates how sex hormones influence brain health and disease in both females and males. The main goal of my research is to improve brain health for women and men by examining the influence of sex and sex hormones on normal and diseased brain states such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Research: Although sex differences exist in many brain diseases, research targeting sex as a factor in brain health has been scarce. Dr. Galea’s research is vital in filling this knowledge gap, specifically in understanding how sex and hormones influence neuroplasticity in females as too often women’s health is ignored in research. This preclinical work is essential for developing tailored treatments for brain disease in both women and men. Her research examines the effects of hormones, stress and reproductive experience on neuroplasticity, including adult neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells in the adult), and subsequent behaviour. Liisa developed the first animal models of postpartum depression, was among the first researchers worldwide to study hormonal control of adult neurogenesis and the impact of motherhood on the brain in later life. An understanding of how neurogenesis is regulated may provide clues for devising new therapeutic treatments for diseases that involve neuronal loss and show greater prevalence in women, such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.