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IMHR Researchers

Xia Zhang (MD, PhD)

Xia Zhang holds the position of an Associate Professor at the departments of Psychiatry and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, at the University of Ottawa.

His main research interests are in the areas of brain mechanisms contributing to drug abuse and how these relate to mental illness, especially anxiety and mood disorders.

Dr. Zhang holds two prestigious awards: the New Investigator award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Independent Investigator award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) in the USA.

In addition, he is the Principal Investigator on five peer reviewed grants from CIHR, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.

With over 2 million dollars of research grants, Dr. Zhang's research team is now focusing on the brain CB1 receptors - structures on the surface of brain cells that serve as docking sites for signaling molecules and cannabinoids to relay information or trigger a reaction. Specifically, they are studying mechanisms by which the the cannabinoid CB1 receptors interact with other neurotransmitter (e.g. serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) receptors in the brain.

Dr. Zhang' s research has, and will continue to have, an impact on research in the areas relevant to mental health, including discovery of novel treatments for drug addiction, aging-related learning and memory decline, anxiety and depression.

Selected Publications:

  • Ji, S., Zhang, Y., Van Cleemput, J., Liao, M., Li, L., Jiang, W., Wan, Q., Backstrom, J.R., & Zhang, X.(2006). Disruption of PTEN coupling with 5-HT2C receptor suppresses behavioral responses induced by drugs of abuse. Nature Medicine, 12, 324-329.
  • Jiang, W., Zhang, Y., Xiao, L., Van Cleemput, J., Ji, S., Bai, G., & Zhang, X. (2005). Cannabinoid promotes embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produces anxiolytic- and antidepression-like effects. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 115, 3104-3116.
  • Zhang, X., Cui, S.S., Wallace, A.E., Hannesson, D.K., Schmued, L.W., Saucier, D.M., Honer, W.G., & Corcoran, M.E. (2002). Relations between brain pathology and temporal lobe epilepsy. Journal of Neuroscience, 22, 6052-6061.
  • Cui, S.S., Bowen, R.C., Gu, G.B., Hannesson, D.K., Yu, P.H., & Zhang, X. (2001). Prevention of cannabinoid withdrawal syndrome by lithium: involvement of oxytocinergic neuronal activation. Journal of Neuroscience, 21, 9867-9876.
  • Zhang, X., Hannesson, D.K., Saucier, D.M., Wallace, A.E., Howland, J., & Corcoran, M.E.  (2001). Susceptibility to kindling and neuronal connections of the anterior claustrum. Journal of Neuroscience, 21, 3674-3687.

Other Publications