Debbie McKenzie, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
Associate Dean, Graduate, Faculty of Science - Deans Office


Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
1-30 Brain And Aging Research Building
8710 - 112 St NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2M8

Associate Dean, Graduate, Faculty of Science - Deans Office


Area of Study / Keywords

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


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.


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.