Debbie McKenzie, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences

Contact

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
Email
debbie.mckenzie@ualberta.ca
Address
1-30 Brain And Aging Research Building
8710 - 112 St NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2M8

Overview

Area of Study / Keywords

Prions Infectious Disease Chronic Wasting Disease Muscle Aging Mitochondrial DNA Deletion Mutations


Research

The major research focus of my lab is chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease affecting deer, elk and moose. Prions are unique pathogenic agents, consisting primarily, if not solely, on misfolded conformations of a normal host protein. We are using a number of different model systems, ranging from cell-free to cell culture to primary neuronal cultures to whole lab animals, to address questions regarding the etiology and pathogenesis of CWD. Research is performed in the state-of-the-art Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases. My research focuses on: 1) the role of Prnp genetics on susceptibility to prion infection, 2) CWD strains, 3) prion disease intra- and inter-species transmission and 4) development of biomarkers for prion diseases.


A second research focus is the role of mitochondria in aging processes. We focus primarily on sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and function with age. Our approaches include digital PCR, histology and immunohistochemistry, to determine the mechanisms of muscle fiber loss, with age.


Teaching

Biol 298: Understanding Biological Research (Fall Term)


Biol 310/510: Biology of Aging (Fall Term) co-taught with Judd Aiken and Satyabrata Kar


Biol 409/509: Zoonoses (Fall Term) co-taught with Dan Barreda


Biol 642: Seminar in Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology (Fall and Winter Terms)


Biol 398, 399, 498, 499: Undergraduate Research Projects

Undergraduate researchers are welcome in the lab. Research projects are available for both the prion and aging programs. Please note that undergraduates cannot work with infectious prions.

Courses

BIOL 298 - Understanding Biological Research

An introduction to the process of scientific research including the different approaches to research within biology, formulating research questions, hands-on skill development, experimental design, data collection and analysis, critical thinking, communication of findings, ethics, and career opportunities. Students will attend lectures and selected seminars, and participate in biological research under the supervision of an academic staff member in the Department of Biological Sciences. Open to undergraduate students in the Faculty of Science with preference given to students in Honors and Specialization Programs in the Department of Biological Sciences, and BSc General students (Biological Sciences major). Consent of Department of Biological Sciences required. All students must apply for admission. Prerequisite: BIOL 107 or 108 or SCI 100. See the Biological Sciences website for more details at www.biology.ualberta.ca/courses.

Fall Term 2021
BIOL 310 - Biology of Aging

Biological aging is a complex process that involves the progressive deterioration of an organism over time. This course covers the aging process at the molecular, tissue and organismal levels. Topics for discussion include assessment of animal models of aging, mechanisms of aging, healthy aging, age-associated disease and interventions. Prerequisites: BIOL 201 or ZOOL 241 or 242 or consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both BIOL 310 and 510.

Fall Term 2021
BIOL 409 - Zoonoses

This course will examine the biology of zoonotic agents and the implication of host-pathogen interactions to disease susceptibility and resistance. Students will apply these basic concepts towards the understanding of issues governing pathogenesis, pathology, epidemiology, control and surveillance of zoonotic diseases. Focus will be placed on zoonotic agents currently having a significant impact on animal and public health. Lectures will be followed by active discussion of selected readings. Prerequisites: one of IMIN 200, ZOOL 352, ZOOL 354, ENT 392 or consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both BIOL 409 and BIOL 509.

Fall Term 2021
BIOL 509 - Advanced Topics in Zoonoses

This course will examine the biology of zoonotic agents and the implication of host-pathogen interactions to disease susceptibility and resistance. Students will apply these basic concepts towards the understanding of issues governing pathogenesis, pathology, epidemiology, control and surveillance of zoonotic diseases. Focus will be placed on zoonotic agents currently having a significant impact on animal and public health. Lectures will be followed by active discussion of selected readings. Scheduled classes are the same as for BIOL 409, but with additional assignments and evaluation appropriate to graduate studies. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both BIOL 409 and BIOL 509.

Fall Term 2021
BIOL 510 - Advanced Biology of Aging

Biological aging is a complex process that involves the progressive deterioration of an organism over time. This course covers the aging process at the molecular, tissue and organismal levels. Topics for discussion include assessment of animal models of aging, mechanisms of aging, healthy aging, age-associated disease and interventions. Lectures are the same as BIOL 310, but with additional assignments and evaluation appropriate to graduate studies. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Credit cannot be obtained for both BIOL 310 and BIOL 510.

Fall Term 2021
BIOL 642 - Seminars in Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology

Credit may be obtained more than once.

Fall Term 2021 Winter Term 2022

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