Academic Rank:
Associate Professor, UBC
Investigator, Brain Research Centre, UBC
Affiliation(s):

Academic background

  • PhD, Laval University (Quebec), Neurobiology. 1981
  • MSc, University of Ottawa, Experimental Psychology. 1975
  • BSc, Loyola University of Chicago, Experimental Psychology. 1972

Publications

  • O’Kusky JR, Ye P (2012) Neurodevelopmental effects of insulin-like growth factor signaling. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 33:230-251.
  • Hu Q, Lee SY, O’Kusky JR, Ye P (2012) Signaling through the type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF1R) interacts with canonical Wnt signaling to promote neural proliferation in developing brain. ASN Neuro, 4(5): 253-265; art:e00092.doi:10.1042/AN20120009.
  • Schutz PW, Wong PK, O’Kusky J, Innis SM, Stockler S. Effects of d-3-hydroxybutyrate treatment on hypoglycemic coma in rat pups. Exp Neurol. 2010 Nov 5.
  • Liu W, Ye P, O’Kusky JR, D’Ercole AJ. Type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling is essential for the development of the hippocampal formation and dentate gyrus. J Neurosci Res. 2009 Oct;87(13):2821-32.
  • Wu X, Vallance BA, Boyer L, Bergstrom KS, Walker J, Madsen K, O’Kusky JR, Buchan AM, Jacobson K. Saccharomyces boulardii ameliorates Citrobacter rodentium-induced colitis through actions on bacterial virulence factors. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2008 Jan;294(1):G295-306.
  • Cepeda IL, Flores J, Cornfeldt ML, O’Kusky JR, Doudet DJ. Human retinal pigment epithelial cell implants ameliorate motor deficits in two rat models of Parkinson disease. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2007 Jul;66(7):576-84.
  • Flores J, Cepeda IL, Cornfeldt ML, O’Kusky JR, Doudet DJ. Characterization and survival of long-term implants of human retinal pigment epithelial cells attached to gelatin microcarriers in a model of Parkinson disease. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2007 Jul;66(7):585-96.
  • Hodge RD, D’Ercole AJ, O’Kusky JR. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) inhibits neuronal apoptosis in the developing cerebral cortex in vivo. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2007 Jun;25(4):233-41
  • Coti Bertrand P, O’Kusky JR, Innis SM. Maternal dietary (n-3) fatty acid deficiency alters neurogenesis in the embryonic rat brain. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6):1570-5.
  • Hodge RD, D’Ercole AJ, O’Kusky JR. Increased expression of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) during embryonic development produces neocortical overgrowth with differentially greater effects on specific cytoarchitectonic areas and cortical layers. Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2005 Feb 8;154(2):227-37.

Research Interest

  • Neuroscience
  • Embryology
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Research interests include developmental neurobiology and the pathogenesis of developmental disorders of the central nervous system. In the area of developmental neurobiology, research interests include morphometric and stereological analyses of both the progressive and regressive phases of neurogenesis and synaptogenesis. Presently we are investigating the roles of the insulin-like growth factors in the control of neurogenesis and synaptogenesis. Specific developmental disorders under investigation in this research laboratory have included sudden infant death syndrome, intractable pediatric epilepsy resulting from abnormal neuronal migration and synaptogenesis in the cerebral cortex (i.e. cortical dysplasia and microdysgenesis), pediatric movement and postural disorders resulting from viral infections (e.g. cytomegalovirus) or from the neurotoxicity of heavy metals (e.g. methylmercury) in the developing brain. Technical expertise includes computer-assisted image analysis (e.g. morphometry, stereology, microdensitometry) in light and electron microscopy to investigate disorders of neurogenesis and synaptogenesis in the developing central nervous system.

Teaching Interest

  • The course PATH 404-001 (Diagnostic Histochemistry) is a 6-credit lecture/laboratory course in the B.M.L.Sc. program on the theoretical and practical application of currently available histochemical techniques, which runs for 26 weeks from September to March. The course includes 26 hours of lecture and 46 hours of laboratory sessions and student presentations. This faculty member (JRO) was responsible for two lectures in the second term of the Winter session on the topics of immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization histochemistry from 1987 to 2008. He has also designed and produced programmed study notes and 35 mm slide sets for the Distance Education version of Diagnostic Histochemistry (PATH 404-002). Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of the course. Starting in September 2013, this faculty member (JRO) was appointed course coordinator for PATH 404-001 following the retirement of Dr. Carol Park in July 2013. He has assumed responsibility for 22 of the 26 hours of lecture and participates in 8 of the 46 hours of laboratory sessions from September to March.
  • The course PATH 438 (Directed Research) is a 3-credit directed studies course in the B.M.L.Sc. program, which runs for 26 weeks from September to March. Undergraduate students in their fourth year elect to perform a comprehensive research project (approximately 6 hours per week) in the laboratory of the research supervisor. Students are required to submit a written report in the format of a journal article and to present their findings in a formal presentation to members of the department. Frequently, the results of these research projects are submitted for publication by the students.
  • The course PATH 541 (Histology/Histopathology) was a 3-credit lecture/laboratory course for graduate students in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, which runs for 26 weeks from September to March. This faculty member (JRO) is responsible for a 2-day intensive lecture/laboratory session on the theoretical and practical applications of light and electron microscopy. Graduate students receive lectures on the principles of optical microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. In the laboratory sessions students are trained in the operation of both the compound optical microscope configured for brightfield microscopy and the transmission electron microscope, including photography and darkroom technique. Students are required to submit photomicrographs and electron micrographs of histological specimens from a tissue of interest. It has been my experience that these students, many of whom have little or no experience in microscopy, produce publication-quality photographs by the end of the 2-day session. This faculty member is also responsible for a 1-day intensive lecture/laboratory session in January on immunohistochemical techniques. Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of the course. This course was discontinued in 2001.
  • The course PATH 548R (Directed Studies, Developmental Neurobiology and the Pathogenesis of Developmental Disorders of the Central Nervous System) is a 6-credit directed studies course which runs for 13 weeks during either the first or second term. The course provides for a critical review of current knowledge and contemporary research relating to developmental neurobiology and the etiology, pathogenesis and pathologic anatomy of major developmental disorders of the nervous system. The method of instruction includes seminars and directed readings. Students are required to attend 13 seminars (2 hours per session). Each graduate student is assigned to present a number of seminars during the course. The subject of the seminar is dictated by the assigned readings and the topic of discussion for a given week, and individual students are required to present 2-3 recent research papers (e.g. published within the last 2-3 years) on some aspect of the week’s discussion topic. Students are evaluated on their seminar presentations (20%) and on a 25-50 page research paper (80%) based on a prearranged topic that is relevant to the student’s research interests. This course is presented on demand in response to graduate students who have a focused interest in developmental neurobiology. Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of the course.
  • The course ANAT 516 (Functional Human Neuroanatomy) is a 3-credit lecture/laboratory course for graduate students in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and in other UBC departments, which runs for 13 weeks from September to December. This course was established in 1998, coordinated by Dr. Joanne Weinberg of the Department of Anatomy, to provide instruction in the gross and microscopic anatomy of the human nervous system to graduate students following the elimination of ANAT 425 (Elements of Neuroanatomy) with conversion to the PBL format in the School of Medicine. This faculty member (JRO) is responsible for lecture and laboratory sessions on each of the following topics: 1) development of the central nervous system, 2) gross anatomy and blood supply of the diencephalon and telencephalon, 3) gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy of the cerebellum, and 4) gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy of the cerebral cortex. Students are evaluated by a comprehensive research paper (50%) and a laboratory examination (50%). Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of the course.
  • This faculty member (JRO) actively serves for five weeks as a tutor (FMED 422) for one blocks (Brain & Behaviour, 2nd half) in the Problem Based Learning (PBL) Program in the integrated Medical/Dental Curriculum. The PBL method acts as an educational method characterized by the use of patient problems as a context for students to learn problem-solving skills and acquire knowledge about the basic and clinical sciences, which typically include neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropathology, neurology, neuropharmacology and the allied behavioural disciplines. The tutor acts as a facilitator, guiding students in this group-learning process. Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of each block. From 2002-2009, this faculty member (JRO) served as both the Week Chair and Case Author for Week 4 of the Brain & Behaviour block (Higher cortical organization and function; pathophysiology of ischemic and hemorrhagic cerebrovascular disease). The Week Chair is responsible for scheduling lectures and laboratory sessions during the week and for coordinating the various faculty members involved. The Case Author is responsible for writing the case for the week, covering the designated week objectives and clinical case objectives, and for briefing and orienting the tutors involved in this week.
  • The course PATH 305-001 (Modern Microscopy, course coordinator) was developed in collaboration with Dr. David Walker as a 4-credit lecture/laboratory course on the theoretical and practical applications of modern light and electron microscopy. Students in the B.M.L.Sc. program attend 26 lectures between September and March, concerning the physics of light and electrons, the optics of various microscope systems, and image-trapping techniques such as photomicrography and computer-assisted image analysis. During the 52 hours of laboratory sessions, students gain practical experience in the operation of various optical microscopes (brightfield, darkfield, phase contrast, fluorescence, interference contrast, polarizing and confocal microscopy) and electron microscopes (transmission e.m. scanning e.m. photoelectric microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, X-ray microbeam analysis, scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopy). Students are required to submit a course project, consisting of an album of light and electron micrographs of selected tissue specimens produced during the laboratory sessions. It has been our experience that a significant number of these third-year undergraduates produce publication-quality photographs by the end of the course (i.e. performing at the level of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in histology). Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of the course.
  • The course PATH 305-002 was the Distance Education format of Modern Microscopy. The theoretical portion of the course is accomplished from September to April through 24 units of programmed study notes and assigned readings in conjunction with sets of 35 mm slides, designed and produced by the course coordinators (J.R. O’Kusky and D.C. Walker). Correspondence students travel to Vancouver for a 14 day period in May to participate in full-time laboratory sessions, producing a course project (i.e. an album of light and electron micrographs). It has been our experience that the course projects produces by the correspondence students are equal in quality to those produced by UBC students in PATH 305-001. Student evaluations are accomplished by a comprehensive anonymous survey at the end of the course. This course was discontinued in 2004.