6875 Boulevard Lasalle
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
Co-Editor in Chief, Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Neurobiology of schizophrenia and neurodevelopmental disorders
My main research program involves the study of pregnancy and birth complications as risk factors for the later development of schizophrenia. The causes of schizophrenia are unknown. However it is believed that schizophrenia is the result of faulty brain development, due to a combination of genetic factors and early environmental insults. Early environmental insults shown to be associated with an increased risk for the later development of schizophrenia in human populations include pregnancy and birth complications such as maternal infection during pregnancy, birth hypoxia and maternal iron deficiency during pregnancy. My laboratory uses animal models to investigate effects of perinatal complications (maternal infection during pregnancy, birth hypoxia, C-section birth, maternal iron deficiency, oxytocin administration during labor) on brain development and function (behavior, neurotransmission, hippocampal function, molecular mechanisms, etc), in relation to schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders.
More recently I have also been involved as a Principal Investigator working with “ACCESS-Canada” the first network launched under CIHR’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) initiative. Under the direction of Ashok Malla (Lead Investigator) and Srividya Iyer (Clinical/Scientific Director), the aim of the network is to transform youth mental health services at 13 demonstration sites across Canada by 1) improving youth engagement and mental health awareness leading to early identification of those in need of services, and 2) making appropriate, evidence-informed, youth-friendly mental healthcare accessible as early as possible. The evaluative research component of the project will provide evidence on the effectiveness of the components of the transformation.
1. Boksa, P., Zhang, Y. and Nouel, D. (2015) Maternal oxytocin administration before birth influences the effects of birth anoxia on the neonatal rat brain. Neurochemical Research 40(8):1631-43.
2. Boksa, P., Joober, R. and Kirmayer, L.J. (2015) Mental wellness in Canada’s Aboriginal communities: striving towards reconciliation. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 40(6):363-5.
3. Iyer, S.N., Boksa, P., Lal, S., Shah, J., Marandola, G., Jordan, G., Doyle, M., R. Joober, R. and Malla, A.K. (2015) Transforming youth mental health: a Canadian perspective. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine 32:51-60.
4. Harvey, L. and Boksa, P. (2014) Additive effects of maternal iron deficiency and prenatal immune activation on adult behaviors in rat offspring. Brain, Behavior and Immunity 40: 27-37.
5. Harvey, L. and Boksa, P. (2014) Do prenatal immune activation and maternal iron deficiency interact to affect neurodevelopment and early behavior in rat offspring? Brain, Behavior and Immunity 35: 144–154.
6. Burt, M.A., Tse Y.C., Boksa, P. and Wong, T.P. (2013) Prenatal immune activation interacts with stress and corticosterone exposure later in life to modulate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor synaptic function and plasticity. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 16(8):1835-48.
7. Harvey, L. and Boksa, P. (2012) A stereological comparison of GAD67 and reelin expression in the hippocampal stratum oriens of offspring from two mouse models of maternal inflammation during pregnancy. Neuropharmacology 62(4):1767-76.
8. Nouel, D., Burt, M., Zhang, Y., Harvey, L. and Boksa, P. (2012) Prenatal exposure to bacterial endotoxin reduces the number of GAD67- and reelin-immunoreactive neurons in the hippocampus of rat offspring. European Neuropsychopharmacology 22(4):300-7.
9. Boksa, P. (2010) Effects of prenatal infection on brain development and behavior: a review of findings from animal models. Brain, Behavior and Immunity 24, 881-897.
10. Cui, K., Ashdown, H., Luheshi, G.N. and Boksa, P. 2009) Effects of prenatal immune activation on hippocampal neurogenesis in the rat. Schizophrenia Research 113(2-3):288-97.
11. Boksa, P. (2009) On the neurobiology of hallucinations. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 34(4):260-2.
12. Boksa, P. and Zhang, Y. (2008) Epinephrine administration at birth prevents long-term changes in dopaminergic parameters caused by Cesarean section birth in the rat. Psychopharmacology 200(3):381-91.
13. Ashdown, H., Dumont, Y., Ng, M., Poole, S., Boksa, P. and Luheshi G.N. (2006) The role of cytokines in mediating effects of prenatal infection on the fetus: implications for schizophrenia. Molecular Psychiatry 11(1), 47-55.
14. Fortier, M.-E., Joober, R., Luheshi, G.N. and Boksa, P. (2004) Maternal exposure to bacterial endotoxin during pregnancy enhances amphetamine-induced locomotion and startle responses in adult rat offspring. Jornal of Psychiatric Research 38(3), 335-345.
15. Boksa, P. and El-Khodor, B.F. (2003) Birth insult interacts with stress at adulthood to alter dopaminergic function in animal models: Possible implications for schizophrenia and other disorders. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 27 (1-2), 91-101.
Patricia Boksa obtained her Ph.D. in 1980 in Pharmacology and Therapeutics from McGill University. In 1983, she joined the Department of Psychiatry at McGill, where she is currently a Full Professor, as well as an associate member of the Dept. of Neurology and Neurosurgery. Dr. Boksa has been a principle investigator at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute since 1983. She is a neuroscientist conducting basic research on pregnancy and birth complications as risk factors for the later development of schizophrenia. Her research involves the use of animal models to investigate effects of various perinatal complications (i.e., birth hypoxia, C-section birth, maternal infection during pregnancy) on neurodevelopmental outcomes relevant to schizophrenia. Over the years, Dr. Boksa has been continually involved with the teaching and training of students and mentoring of tenure-track academic staff in the Dept. of Psychiatry. Among other activities, she has served as a member of Senate at McGill University, as Chair and Scientific Officer on CIHR grant committees, as President of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology and as co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.
Maternal Oxytocin Administration Before Birth Influences the Effects of Birth Anoxia on the Neonatal Rat Brain. Neurochem Res. 2015;40(8):1631-43.
Additive effects of maternal iron deficiency and prenatal immune activation on adult behaviors in rat offspring. Brain Behav Immun. 2014;40:27-37.
Smoking, psychiatric illness and the brain. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2017;42(3):147-149.
Mental wellness in Canada's Aboriginal communities: striving toward reconciliation. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2015;40(6):363-5.
Update on the review process and publishing at the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2014;39:147-148.