Leigh Anne Swayne

Dr. Leigh Anne Swayne is a basic biomedical researcher based in the Division of Medical Sciences at the University of Victoria. Born in the Prairies and raised in Ontario, Dr. Swayne trained in Canada and France before establishing her independent research lab, working to bridge critical knowledge gaps in the understanding of large, complicated proteins called ion channels.

In order to function properly, both the brain and the heart rely on ion channels – pores that stud cellular membranes to facilitate the controlled flow of ions in and out of cells. During brain injury, ion channels can render populations of neurons vulnerable to damage, but can also sensitize surviving neurons to respond, adapt and promote repair. Furthermore, mutations in the proteins that form ion channels can manifest in a spectrum of clinical neurological and heart conditions.

Dr. Swayne’s new lab has already made several novel discoveries with respect to a family of ion channels called pannexins – of which very little had been previously known. Overall her work has important implications for neurodevelopment and associated disorders like Schizophrenia, as well as brain injury and stroke.