About us

A series of discoveries spanning the last decade has challenged our view of microglia, the brain’s innate immune cells, showing their essential but previously unexpected contribution to the remodeling of neuronal circuits. In this emergent field of investigation, research in Dr. Marie-Eve Tremblay’s laboratory at the Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria, aims to determine how this newly-defined mechanism could be implicated in the loss of neuronal connections that best correlates with the impairment of learning and memory across depression, schizophrenia, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Therapeutic goal

The goal of our research is to design novel therapeutic strategies that specifically target microglia in order to promote stress resilience and healthy cognitive aging, as well as prevent and treat the highly prevalent sporadic forms of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Research Focus

Microglia emerged this past decade as key players in brain development, maturation, function, and plasticity, across contexts of health and disease, and stages of life. In 2016, our ultrastructural analyses defined dark microglia (DM), a subtype strikingly different from the other ones described so far. DM are distinguished by their unique combination of cellular stress markers: condensation of cytoplasm and nucleoplasm (giving them a dark appearance), mitochondrial alteration, endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus dilation, and loss of microglial heterochromatin patterning. Rare in healthy young adult mice, DM become prevalent upon exposure to maternal immune activation (using the viral mimic Poly I:C or a Western diet), chronic stress, loss of fractalkine signaling, aging, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease pathology, where they reach 40% of the microglial population. These findings support the view that “multitasking” microglia constitute a diverse population, composed of subtypes exerting specialized functions.

While the biological relevance of transcriptionally-defined disease-associated microglial subtypes remains largely elusive, we recently identified a set of common features between these cells and DM. Moreover, we made significant advances in our understanding of DM’s functional relationships within the brain. DM’s ensheathment of the vasculature, satellite positions onto neurons and other glial cells, and extensive interactions with synapses -phagocytic and non-phagocytic- lead us to propose that DM play crucial roles in vascular and synaptic remodeling. Our work investigates how DM’s actions could be initially beneficial, but become detrimental in contexts of stress-induced plasticity, aging and diseases. Innovative therapies targeting DM and their effector functions hold the potential to preserve cognitive functions upon exposure to various challenges throughout life.

Leadership & Outreach

Dr. Marie-Eve Tremblay’s most important contribution to date was to reveal that microglia, which are the brain innate immune cells, actively remodel neuronal circuits during normal physiological conditions. Her original discovery, published in PLoS Biology (Tremblay et al., 2010), was cited 1020 times (Google Scholars). It was recommended by Faculty of 1000, publicized twice in Nature, and presented to the general public in New Scientist and Médecine/Sciences. Her follow-up work in GLIA (Tremblay et al., 2012) was also influential, with 202 citations received. These findings have stimulated the development of a new field of research investigating the roles of microglia in the healthy brain. Dr. Tremblay has organized and chaired the mini-symposium entitled “The role of microglia in the healthy brain” at the 2011 Society for Neuroscience meeting, which helped launch this exciting new field and received the warmest welcome from the scientific community with an attendance of 800+ participants.

As an independent investigator (since 2013), she has identified a major neuron-microglia communication pathway that underlies stress-induced cognitive impairment. This work resulted in a co-senior author publication in Brain Behavior and Immunity (Milior et al., 2016; 113 citations) featured on the journal’s cover page. At the same time, her team identified “dark microglia” which alter and prune synapses in states of chronic stress, depression, aging and Alzheimer disease (GLIA; Bisht et al., 2016; 153 citations, senior author). This discovery was also presented to the general public in New Scientist. Her recent work published in Brain Behavior and Immunity, as well as Journal of Neuroinflammation, further unraveled cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurological impairment in maternal immune activation, Werner syndrome (an accelerated aging disorder), Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Overall, these findings increased our understanding of neuroimmune interplays mediating synaptic loss and cognitive decline along the aging trajectory. Dr. Tremblay’s goal is to become a world leader in the development of innovative cell therapies utilizing microglia as vectors for effecting targeted changes in neuronal circuits, in order to spare memory, learning and other cognitive functions that may become compromised during chronic stress, aging, and diseases.

Dr. Tremblay’s research is internationally recognized. She was invited to present her work 109 times (in Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, and USA) as seminars (notably at King’s College London, Harvard University, Salk Institute for Biological Studies), and as lectures in symposia, conferences, specialized courses (including IBRO Advanced School), and meetings (including the Gordon Research Conference, Keystone Symposia, FASEB Research Conference). She has over 100 original peer-reviewed research articles, review articles, addenda, book chapters, invited editorials, and commentary. According to Google Scholar, her publications were cited over 5,500 times, corresponding to an h-index of 35 and an i10 index of 59. She has co-edited a book with Dr. Amanda Sierra (University of Basque, Spain) “Microglia in Health and Disease” which was published by Springer in November 2014, and organized several scientific events, including a workshop on microglial diversity for the 2019 European Meeting on Glial Cells. She is also specialty chief-editor of Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience – non-neuronal cells section.

In parallel, she has created a stimulating research environment by recruiting a strong and diverse group of trainees. Her independent funding has included over 15 research grants, as a principal investigator (Banting Foundation, CIHR Foundation Scheme, Scottish Rite Foundation, NSERC, 2 ERANET-Neuron, FRQNT, FRQS, and NARSAD), co-investigator (2 CIHR, FRQNT, ThéCell, Heart and Stroke), and as a project partner (Swiss National Foundation). She has also received CFI Leaders Grant to acquire a two-photon in vivo microscope system customized for the study of neuroimmune dynamics, a scanning electron microscope for 3D nanoscale imaging, and obtained molecular tools indispensable for her research program through key collaborations notably with Drs. Frederic Geissmann (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York; resulting in a second-author publication in Cell) and Oleg Butovsky (Harvard University, Boston; GLIA on the dark microglia). Dr. Tremblay’s extensive network of collaboration allows her to broaden her expertise and deepen her understanding of neuroimmune dynamics involvement in stress resilience and healthy cognitive aging.

TEAM MEMBERS

Lab Historic & Alumni

Team 2019-20

Micaël Carrier, M.Sc. equivalent in Neurobiology, Université Laval (2018-19)

Marianne Nolin, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2019)

Valérie Watters, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2019)

Cyril Bolduc, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2019)

Charlotte Noël, B.Sc. Exchange Student from France (2019)

Julien Blouin, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2018-19)

TEAM 2018-19

Kaushik Sharma, Postdoctoral Researcher (2017-18)

Chin Wai (Thomas) Hui, Postdoctoral Researcher (2015-18)

Kanchan Bisht, Ph.D. Student in Neurobiology, Université Laval (2014-18)

Mathilde Henry, Ph.D. Student in Neurobiology, Université Laval (2013-18)

Katherine Picard, M.Sc. equivalent in Molecular Medicine Université Laval (2017-18)

Marie-Kim St-Pierre, M.Sc. equivalent in Molecular Medicine Université Laval (2017-18)

Cynthia Lecours, M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Science, Université Laval (2016-18) Co-supervised by Thérèse DiPaolo and Martin Parent

Hassan El Hajj, M.Sc. in Neurobiology, Université Laval (2015-18)

Alexie Doucet, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2018)

Éloi Gagnon, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2018)

Geneviève Parent, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2018)

Moritz Ferch, M.D. Exchange Student from Austria, International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (2018)

TEAM 2017-18

Audrey Gagné, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2017)

Jérôme Detuncq, B.Sc. Student in Biochemistry, Université Laval (2017)

Lisa Sheefhals, M.Sc. Exchange Student, Master Neuroscience & Cognition, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands (2017) Co-supervised by Elly Hol

Fanny Decoeur, M.Sc. Exchange Student, Neurosciences Master 1, Université de Bordeaux, France (2017) Co-supervised by Dr. Agnès Nadja

TEAM 2015-16

Valerio Messina, M.D. Exchange Student from Italy, International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (2015)

Danaja Plevel, M.D. Exchange Student from Slovenia, International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (2015)

Isabelle Girard, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2015)

Oihane Abiega, Ph.D. Exchange Student, University of Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain (2015) Co-supervised by Dr. Amanda Sierra

Steven Gagnon, M.D. Student, Université Laval (2015-2016)

Yvan Rémy, B.Sc. Exchange Student, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France (2016)

Clémentine Beucher, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2016)

Abygaël St-Pierre, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2016)

Katherine Picard, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2016-17)

Marie-Kim St-Pierre, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2016-17)

Micaël Carrier, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2016-17)

TEAM 2013-14

Samuel Boisjoly-Villeneuve, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2013-15) Co-supervised by Dr. Richard Kinkead

Samuel Comeau, B.Sc. Student in Biology, Université Laval (2013-14)

Maria Gabriela Sanchez, Postdoctoral Researcher (2014)

Cynthia Lecours, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2014-16)

Louis Samson, M.D. Student, Université Laval (2014-15)

Vanessa Théberge, B.Sc. Student in Biomedical Sciences, Université Laval (2014)

News & Events

11/09/2020 – Article CIHR and MSFHR funds research on chronic stress-induced cognitive impairment, University of Victoria.

01/06/2020 – Article Dr. Marie-Ève Tremblay, Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Neurobiology of Aging and Cognition, joins DMSC, University of Victoria.

13/11/2019 – Article Survivre au stress : Cerveau sous tension, Contact, Université Laval.

29/01/2019 – Article Janvier : le mois de sensibilisation à la maladie d’Alzheimer, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval.

11/11/2018 – Article Un 30e anniversaire souligné en grande pompe, Club Bon Coeur, Charlevoix.

13/06/2018 – Article Les Virtuoses de la science, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval.

14/01/2018 – Article Lorsque le stress dérègle la mémoire, le Soleil.

16/08/2016 – Article Kidney macrophages: surveyors and scavengers of immune complexes, Nature Reviews Nephrology (2016) 12: 579.

01/08/2016 – Article Mysterious dark brain cells linked to Alzheimer’s and stress, New Scientist.

27/06/2016 – Article Keystone 2016 Meeting on Microglia/Neurodegeneration: Here’s the Buzz, AlzForum.

29/03/2016 – Article Electron microscopy reveals dark microglia and their novel phenotype, The Jackson Laboratory.

09/02/2016 – Article Le côté sombre de la glie: dark microglia, EchoSciences Grenoble.

22/09/2014 – Publication of book Microglia in Health and Disease, Springer. Co-edited by Marie-Ève Tremblay and Amanda Sierra.

09/10/2013 – Article The mind minders: meet our brain’s maintenance workers, New Scientist.

Interested by our work? Please visit ReasearchGate

Read our Scientific publications

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS

2020 – Research trainee award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research to Haley Vecchiarelli

2020 – Semi-finalist position at the BioRender Graphical Abstract Contest to Ifeoluwa O. Awogbindin

2020 – International Brain Research Organization – African Regional Committee (IBRO-ARC) award to Ifeoluwa O. Awogbindin

2020 – IBRO international travel grant to attend the International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN)-American Society for Neurochemistry (ASN) meeting in Montréal, Québec to Ifeoluwa O. Awogbindin

2020 – ISN Committee for Aid and Education in Neurochemistry Award to Elizabeth Olonode-Akinluyi

2020 – Faculty of graduate studies (FGS) entrance award from University of Victoria to Elisa Gonçalves de Andrade

2020 – FGS entrance award from University of Victoria to Eva Šimončičová

2020 – Postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to Haley Vecchiarelli

2020 – Doctoral training scholarship from Fond de Recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) to Katherine Picard

2020 – Excellence scholarship from Centre thématique de recherches en neurosciences (CTRN) of Université Laval to Katherine Picard

2019 – Doctoral training scholarship from FRQS to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2019 – 2nd place at ‘My thesis in 180 seconds’ contest from the Neuroscience Axis at Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval to Micaël Carrier

2019 – Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada doctoral training scholarship from CIHR to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2019 – Young Investigator Training Program award from the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) to attend the 10th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience in Daegu, South Korea to Maude Bordeleau

2019 – Travel award Citoyens du Monde – Fondation Famille-Choquette from Université Laval to Katherine Picard

2019 – Travel award for the ISN-ASN meeting in Montréal, Québec to Ifeoluwa O. Awogbindin

2019 – Travel award for the ISN-ASN meeting in Montréal, Québec to Maude Bordeleau

2019 – Travel award for the ISN-ASN meeting in Montréal, Québec to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2019 – Travel award for the ISN-ASN meeting in Montréal, Québec to Micaël Carrier

2019 – Travel award for the ISN-ASN meeting in Montréal, Québec to Fernando González Ibáñez

2019 – Travel Award for the XIV European Meeting on Glial Cells in Health and Disease – Network GLIA to Maude Bordeleau

2019 – Albert-Aguayo Award from the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University to Maude Bordeleau

2019 – Neuroscience Axis scholarship from Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval to Cyril Bolduc

2018 – Trainee professional development Award (TPDA) from Society for Neurosciences to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2018 – Canada neuroimmunology knowledge dissemination award from the International Society of Neuroimmunology to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2018 – Scientific communication excellence award from the Molecular Medicine Department of Université Laval to Katherine Picard

2018 – Scientific communication excellence award from the Molecular Medicine Department of Université Laval to Micaël Carrier

2018 – Excellence scholarship from the Association des chercheuses et chercheurs étudiant à la Faculté de Médecine (ACCEM) of Université Laval to Micaël Carrier

2018 – Excellence scholarship from the ACCEM of Université Laval to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2018 – Excellence scholarship from the ACCEM of Université Laval to Katherine Picard

2018 – Prix Diamant recherche – relève category from the CHU de Québec-Université Laval to Marie-Ève Tremblay

2018 – GREAT travel award from the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University to Maude Bordeleau

2018 – Undergraduate student research award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to Julien Blouin

2018 – Travel award for the Stress Neurobiology Workshop 2018 Meeting to Micaël Carrier

2018 – Master training award from FRQS to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2018 – Master training award from FRQNT to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2018 – Master training award from FRQS to Micaël Carrier

2018 – Master training award from FRQNT to Micaël Carrier

2018 – Master training award from CIHR to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2018 – Tenacity scholarship from Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval to Kanchan Bisht

2018 – Travel award from the Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN-CAN) to Micaël Carrier

2017 – Entrance excellence scholarship from Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval to Micaël Carrier

2017 – Excellence scholarship from the Molecular Medicine Department of Université Laval to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2017 – Excellence scholarship from the Fondation du CHU de Québec to Katherine Picard

2017 – Excellence scholarship from the Fondation du CHU de Québec to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2017 – Admission excellence scholarship from Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2017 – Doctoral training award from FRQS to Maude Bordeleau

2017 – Postdoctoral training award from FRQS to Julie Savage

2017 – Postdoctoral training award from FRQS to Chin Wai (Thomas) Hui

2017 – Excellence scholarship from Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec to Audrey Gagné

2017 – First-author publication award from Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval to Kanchan Bisht

2017 – Travel award from the ACCEM of Université Laval to Kanchan Bisht

2017 – Undergraduate student research award from NSERC to Jérôme Detuncq

2017 – Undergraduate student research award from NSERC with supplement from FRQNT to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2016 – Claude-Fortier award for academic excellence and implication in the Biomedical Sciences program of Université Laval to Micaël Carrier

2016 – Best poster award at Journée Phare, Bromont, Québec to Mathilde Henry

2016 – Travel award Marie Giguère from Fondation Douglas to Maude Bordeleau

2016 – Travel award from the ACCEM of Université Laval to Mathilde Henry

2016 – Excellence scholarship (Bourse Didier-Mouginot) from the Fondation du CHU de Québec to Cynthia Lecours

2016 – Excellence scholarship from Fondation du CHU de Québec to Kanchan Bisht

2016 – Excellence scholarship from the Molecular Medicine Department to Cynthia Lecours

2016 – Excellence scholarship from the Molecular Medicine Department to Kanchan Bisht

2016 – Master training award from FRQS to Cynthia Lecours

2016 – Undergraduate student research award from NSERC to Cynthia Lecours

2015 – Best poster award at the Neuroscience Day of Université Laval to Julie Savage

2015 – Travel award for the Americas School of Neuroimmunology in Calgary to Hassan El Haj

2015 – Scholarship from the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education to Hassan El Hajj

2015 – Scholarship from the Indo-Canadian Shastri Foundation to Kanchan Bisht

2015 – Travel Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to Kanchan Bisht

2015 – Undergraduate student research award from NSERC to Isabelle Girard

Contact Us

Address

 Division of Medical Sciences

University of Victoria

Medical Sciences Building, room 322

Victoria BC V8P 5C2

Email

evetremblay@uvic.ca
Linkedin
ResearchGate

Phone

(250) 853-3827

Your suggestions and comments are most welcome !