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 major depression, schizophrenia, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Therapeutic goal

The goal of our research is to design novel therapeutic strategies that specifically target microglia to promote brain resilience and healthy cognitive functions along the aging trajectory. We thereby aim to prevent and treat major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and the highly prevalent sporadic forms of neurodegenerative diseases that include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Research Focus

Microglia emerged since 2005 and especially 2010 as key players in brain development, maturation, function, plasticity, and integrity, across contexts of health and disease, sexes, and stages of life. In 2016, our ultrastructural analyses defined the dark microglia (DM), a state 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 between neurons and microglia, 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 each 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 metabolic state and 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. Furthermore, DM uniquely display a high prevalence of glycogen granules indicating a metabolic difference compared to the other microglia. Our work is currently investigating how DM’s actions could be initially beneficial (e.g., during development), 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-Ève Tremblay’s work revealed that microglia, which are the brain’s immune cells, actively remodel neuronal circuits during normal physiological conditions. Her original discovery, published in PLoS Biology (Tremblay et al., 2010), was cited 1281 times (Google Scholars). It was recommended by Faculty of 1000, publicized twice in Nature, and presented to the public in New Scientist and Médecine/Sciences. Her follow-up work in GLIA (Tremblay et al., 2012) was also influential, with 261 citations received. These findings stimulated the development of a new field of research investigating the roles of microglia in the healthy brain. The mini-symposium “The role of microglia in the healthy brain” that she organized and chaired at the 2011 Society for Neuroscience meeting contributed to the launch of this new field, was attended by 800+ participants, and resulted in a publication in The Journal of Neuroscience cited 906 times.

As an independent investigator, she has identified fractalkine signaling as an important neuron-microglia 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; 171 citations) that was selected for the journal’s cover page. It was preceded by a review article in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience cited 253 times (Paolicelli et al., 2014). At the same she has identified “dark microglia” as a microglial subset rare in healthy adult mice that becomes highly prevalent upon chronic stress, aging, fractalkine signaling deficiency, and Alzheimer’s disease pathology. This work published in GLIA (Bisht et al., 2016) was cited 259 times and notably discussed in the New Scientist. Her follow-up work further uncovered these cells following maternal immune activation (induced by viral infection), considered a main risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders, and in Huntington’s disease pathology (Hui et al., 2018 Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience and Savage et al., 2020 Journal of Neuroinflammation, respectively cited 98 times and 30 times). These findings which were notably discussed in a review article in Neurobiology of Stress cited 190 times (Bisht et al., 2018) revealed that dark microglia contribute to the pathological remodeling of neuronal circuits, across stress-induced plasticity, aging, and in various disease conditions. This research into dark microglia is expected to provide novel therapies specifically targeting the microglial subset implicated in synaptic loss and cognitive decline. This work is at the heart of her Tier II Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Aging and Cognition research program.

Supporting the importance of this research, Dr. Tremblay was ranked among the 1% most highly cited researchers in her field by Clarivate in 2021 (with 6 other Faculty at the University of Victoria). She was also ranked 3rd World Microglial Expert by Expertscape for 85 eligible papers cited between 2011 and 2021. Her career goal is to become a world leader in the development of innovative therapies normalizing microglial functions upon the exposure to various environmental risk factors for disease throughout life. Her independent research funding has included so far 20 research grants, 10 as a principal investigator, 1 as a co-principal investigator, 8 as a co-investigator, and 1 as a project partner, in addition to a research contract with Med-Life Discoveries LP as a principal investigator. She has also received 3 Canada Foundation for Innovation Leaders Grants to acquire cutting-edge microscopy systems specially customized for the study of neuroimmune interactions. Her expertise is internationally recognized. With her diverse research team which has included over 75 trainees from high school, college, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels, as well as research technicians and assistants, she has contributed to several collaborative studies in the fields of neuroscience, reproduction, nutrition, (immuno)metabolism, and immunology (e.g., published in Cell, Nature Methods, Science Translational Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Cell Reports, Nature Neuroscience, PLoS Biology, eLife, Communications Biology, PNAS). She was invited to present her work 124 times, as seminars, lectures at symposia, specialized courses, and meetings. She has 150 publications that were cited 9,041 times, corresponding to an h-index of 44 and an i10-index of 93 (Google Scholar). Despite the pandemic, she has had her most productive years so far since moving to Victoria, with 23 manuscripts published in 2020, 28 manuscripts published in 2021, and 15 published or in press since the beginning of 2022.

TEAM MEMBERS

Team 2020-21

From left to right: Marie-Kim St-Pierre, Victor Lau, Eva Šimončičová, Katherine Picard, Elisa Gonçalves de Andrade, Fernando González Ibáñez, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Jared VanderZwaag, Mohammadparsa Khakpour, Sophia Loewen, Chloe McKee, Micaël Carrier, Haley Vecchiarelli, Benneth Ben-Azu

Team 2019-20

From left to right: Maude Bordeleau, Charlotte Noël, Cyril Bolduc, Julie Savage, Micaël Carrier, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Fernando González Ibáñez, Nathalie Vernoux, Amin Benadjal, Marie-Kim St-Pierre, Marie-Ève Robert

TEAM 2018-19

From left to right: Hassan El Hajj, Julie Savage, Kaushik Sharma, Nathalie Vernoux, Julien Blouin, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Fernando González Ibáñez, Cynthia Lecours, Katherine Picard, Marie-Kim St-Pierre, Maude Bordeleau, Kanchan Bisht, Micaël Carrier, Geneviève Parent

TEAM 2017-18

From left to right: Nathalie Vernoux, Kanchan Bisht, Kaushik Sharma, Marie-Kim St-Pierre, Abygaël St-Pierre, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Clémentine Beucher, Cynthia Lecours, Hassan El Hajj, Julie Savage, Chin Wai (Thomas) Hui, Micaël Carrier, Mathilde Henry
Additional lab members: Fanny Decoeur, Lisa Scheefhals, Constantin Delmas, Doriane Pouliot, Rosalie Buteau-Poulin, Véronique Fournier, Gabrielle Duvoisin de Soumagnat, Audrey Gagné, Jérôme Detuncq, Julien Blouin, Geneviève Parent, Moritz Ferch, Éloi Gagnon, Alexie Doucet, Maude Bordeleau, Fernando González Ibáñez, Sammy Weiser Novak

TEAM 2015-16

From left to right: Cynthia Lecours, Kanchan Bisht, Isabelle Girard, Julie Savage, Oihane Abiega, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Mathilde Henry, Nathalie Vernoux, Valerio Messina
Additional lab members: Samuel Boisjoly-Villeneuve, Philippe LeBrun, Audray Maude Baril-Lecompte, Julie Bremond, Marika Mercier, Jessika Landry-Morneau, Alexandra Cayouette, Kim Larose-Labrecque, Louis Samson, Danaja Plevel, Steven Gagnon, Yvan Rémy, Marie-Kim St-Pierre, Abygaël St-Pierre, Katherine Picard, Clémentine Beucher, Micaël Carrier, Hassan El Hajj, Maude Bordeleau, Chin Wai (Thomas) Hui, Kaushik Sharma

TEAM 2013-14

From left to right: Kanchan Bisht, Louis Samson, Marie-Ève Tremblay, Hassan El Hajj, Cynthia Lecours, Maria Gabriela Sanchez
Additional lab members: Samuel Comeau, Mathilde Henry, Samuel Boisjoly-Villeneuve

News & Events

31/03/2022 – Article Prenatal exposure to maternal viral infections can change embryo brain anatomy, University of Victoria.

11/02/2022 – Article Marie-Eve Tremblay – Being a woman in science is my responsibility, Frontiers Science News.

11/01/2022 – Article Review shows pharmaceutical therapies targeting microglia are on the rise, University of Victoria.

11/01/2022 – Article High-fat diet during pregnancy could change offspring’s brain vasculature, University of Victoria.

16/12/2021 – Radio Interview État des connaissances sur l’Alzheimer, Bien entendu – Ici Première, Radio-Canada.

02/12/2021 – Article Tremblay named one of world’s top three experts in microglia, University of Victoria.

01/12/2021 – Article Dark matters, The Torch, University of Victoria.

01/12/2021 – Article Tremblay collaborates on Alzheimer’s research, University of Victoria.

16/11/2021 – Article Eight UVic researchers are Highly Cited, University of Victoria.

16/11/2021 – Article Six chercheuses et chercheurs dans le classement Clarivate 2021, Université Laval.

18/10/2021 – Article New Fragile X Syndrome research to study microglial influence and potential therapies, University of
Victoria.

22/09/2021 – Article New insights could help alleviate chronic stress symptoms and prevent stress-associated disorders in
women, University of Victoria.

15/09/2021 – Article Research to understand and treat the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the brain continues with new CIHR
grant, University of Victoria.

12/08/2021 – Article Tremblay and Brown receive combined $2.07 million boost from CIHR for brain health research,
University of Victoria.

11/08/2021 – Article CFI funds next-gen 4D imaging system to study brain in real-time, University of Victoria.

22/07/2021 – Article Understanding how infectious diseases affect the aging brain, University of Victoria.

19/07/2021 – Article Supporting resilience and recovery, University of Victoria.

21/06/2021 – Article Birth parent’s diet may affect brain development in offspring, University of Victoria.

10/06/2021 – Article White blood cells could play a role in brain development and the onset of neurodevelopmental disorders,
University of Victoria.

05/05/2021 – Article Understanding the effects of COVID-19 on the brain, University of Victoria.

29/04/2021 – Article MDL announces new collaboration with Dr. Marie-Eve Tremblay at the University of Victoria, Med-Life
Discoveries LP.

30/03/2021 – Article Cerveau   : le déclin cognitif serait réversible ! , Science & Vie.

26/02/2021 – Article Stress-testing the brain, Times Colonist and University of Victoria.

16/12/2020 – Article UVic welcomes five Canada Research Chairs, University of Victoria.

01/12/2020 – Article Tremblay contributes electron microscopy work to Nature article, University of Victoria.

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

31/07/2020 – Article Neurodégénérescence : quand le cerveau a la tête dure, Québec Science.

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

20/01/2020 – Article Taking care: advice to keep you feeling well throughout the year, University Affairs.

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.

24/06/2016 – 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

2022 – Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) graduate student award – master to Victor Lau

2022 – BranchOut Neurological Foundation Scholarship to Sophia Loewen

2022 – Boehm Family Award for Excellence in Science at the Faculty of Science Honours Fest- 2nd Place Poster Award to Chloe McKee

2022 – Doctoral training scholarship from Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) to Marie-Kim St-Pierre

2021 – Doctoral training scholarship from FRQS to Micaël Carrier

2021 – BranchOut Neurological Foundation Scholarship to Eva Simoncicova

2021 – Canadian Institutes of CIHR graduate student award – master to Jared VanderZwaag

2021 – International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) Bursary Postdoctoral Fellowship to Benneth Ben-Azu

2021 – Natural Sciences and Engineering undergraduate summer award to Torin Halvorson

2021 – Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA) and Division of Medical Sciences Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award (JCURA) to Chloe McKee

2021– Ranking among the 1% most highly cited researchers by Clarivate in 2021 (with 6 other Faculty at the University of Victoria) for Dr. Tremblay

2021 – 3rd World Microglial Expert ranking by Expertscape for 85 eligible papers cited between 2011 and 2021 for Dr. Tremblay

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 !