Dr. Benedict C. Albensi, PhD, BCMAS, CRQM, Manitoba Dementia Research Chair
Professor - Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Manitoba
Principal Investigator and Everett Endowment Fund Chair - Division of Neurodegenerative Disorders
, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre
R4050-351 Tache Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R2H 2A6
tel: (204) 235-3942
lab: (204) 235-3941
fax: (204) 237-4092
The major focus of our laboratory is to understand the biological basis of memory and to also understand what happens to memory when it is impaired. To this end, we attempt to identify molecular signaling pathways and mechanisms that could be targeted with promising therapeutics for enhancing memory and for preventing and/or reversing memory impairments, in diseases or conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, head trauma, etc. Much of our work is centered on the signaling pathway involving the transcription factor, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), which is central to not only in inflammatory processes and immune system function, but also plays a central role in basic mechanisms of memory formation and recall.
Why is this work important?
-It provides a valuable platform for scientists to understand how brain cells and biochemical processes change at the molecular level during the formation of normal memory -By understanding transcriptional regulation during memory encoding, we can identify a gene (or genes) that are utilized during normal memory formation -Characterizing the biological basis of normal memory will lend great insight into treating age-related central nervous system diseases and/or conditions of brain injury that contribute to memory impairment
-Our research could ultimately lead to the development of new drug targets and/or new interventions to enhance normal memory and to treat memory disorders and related neurodegenerative conditions
What techniques and equipment are used in this laboratory?
-Brain slice electrophysiology
-Behavioral (e.g.s., Morris water maze, Barnes maze)
-Cell & molecular assays (e.g.s., Western blots, gel shifts, calcium analysis, mitochondrial function assessment, etc.)
-MRI scanning and cellular neuroimaging
-Cell cultureComputational modeling of cellular function related to NF-kB signaling
About Dr. Benedict Albensi
Dr. Albensi’s background is diverse where he has received training in both basic and clinical research. He has also worked in both academic and in industrial sectors on several drug discovery and drug development projects. For example, prior to PhD training, he worked at NPS Pharmaceuticals in Salt Lake City, UT, USA, investigating molecular structures obtained from natural products (e.g., spider venoms) for their potential application in treating CNS disorders. Dr. Albensi continued his academic training and received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Utah’s Medical School in 1995, where he developed novel MRI methods for characterizing neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury. Subsequently, he was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, USA (working with Drs. Faden and Pekar), where he further developed novel MRI methods for investigating TBI and brain cognition. Following this, he went on to work as a Postdoctoral Scholar with Dr. Mark Mattson, an internationally recognized leader in neurodegenerative research, at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging – University of Kentucky. While working with Dr. Mattson and using electrophysiological methods, he published the ground breaking study that TNF and NF-kB play important roles in synaptic plasticity and memory (Albensi and Mattson, Synapse 2000). Subsequently, he joined the Clinical Research Department at Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert in Ann Arbor, MI (Pfizer acquired PD-WL in 2000) to obtain additional experience in clinical trials. Following this clinical research training, he was appointed as Project Staff in the Department of Neurological Surgery – Cleveland Clinic Foundation and also as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he conducted novel work on mechanisms of deep brain stimulation (DBS). He now has several appointments in Canada, which include serving as a Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Manitoba and as a Principal Investigator at St. Boniface Hospital Research. He is also a Core Member of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Manitoba. In addition, he is the new Manitoba Dementia Research Chair and the Everett Endowment Fund Chair. He is also currently a Director of the Board for MitoCanada and the Movement Ctr. of Manitoba. He previously served on the Board of the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba. He has reviewed grants for numerous foundations worldwide including NIH, CIHR, NSERC, US DOD, FASEB, to name a few.