Anastassia Voronova

Anastassia Voronova

Anastassia Voronova

Ph.D., University of Ottawa

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Office: Department of Medical Genetics
Location: 8-43A Medical Sciences Building
Laboratory: 8-43 Medical Sciences Building


One of the fundamental questions in neurobiology focuses on how neural stem cells build and regenerate the brain. In my lab, we use animal and primary cell culture models as well as molecular biology techniques to answer how neural stem cells differentiate (transform) into oligodendrocytes.

Oligodendrocytes were once thought to act as a “glue” in the brain. The most well known role for oligodendrocytes is myelin formation to insulate nerve axons and facilitate neuronal conduction. Today we know the genesis of new oligodendrocytes is an essential component of the non-neuronal form of brain plasticity that regulates learning, cognition and behavior. Dysfunction or loss of oligodendrocytes is one of the main drivers of i) aberrant neurodevelopment and neuronal connectivity in schizophrenia and autism; as well as ii) neurodegeneration and neurological impairments in Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Enhancement of oligodendrocyte genesis and myelination is a key therapeutic target to restore healthy neuronal function in injured or diseased brain.

In my lab, we investigate how oligodendrocyte genesis from neural stem cells is regulated by:

  • interactions with neighbouring cells, such as neurons;
  • neuronal chemokines (chemotactic cytokines);
  • chromatin remodelling genes, such as Ankrd11 (Ankyrin Repeat Domain 11, KBG syndrome and autism spectrum disorder risk gene).

Our goal is to use the lessons learned from normal brain development to design novel therapies for engaging endogenous adult neural stem cells for oligodendrocyte regeneration in neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders. To achieve this, we are using pre-clinical mouse models of KBG Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis.

Laboratory Website

Selected Publications (trainees are underlined)

Li Y*., Dittmann N.L*., Watson A.E.S., de Almeida M.M.A., Footz T., Voronova A. (2022). Hepatoma derived growth factor enhances oligodendrocyte genesis from subventricular zone precursor cells ASN Neuro 14:1-20,

*co-first authors

This paper was featured in University of Alberta Folio magazine

Watson A.E.S., Almeida M.M.A., Dittmann N., Li Y., Torabi P., Footz T., Vetere G., Galleguillos D., Sipione S., Cardona A.E. and Voronova A. (2021). Fractalkine signalling regulates oligodendroglial cell genesis from SVZ precursor cells. Stem Cell Rep., 16(8):1968–1984

This paper was featured in Multiple Sclerosis News Today magazine, University of Alberta Folio magazine, International News Outlet (in Spanish) as well as by MS Society of Canada and Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI)

Roth D.M., Baddam P., Lin H., Garcia M.V., Aponte J.D., De Souza ST., Godziuk D., Watson A.E.S., Footz T., Schachter N.F., Egan S.E., Hallgrimsson B., Graf D.* , Voronova A.*  (2021). The chromatin regulator Ankrd11 controls palate and cranial bone development Front. Cell Dev. Biol. 9: 645386.

* co-corresponding authors

Watson A., Goodkey K., Footz T. and Voronova A. (2020). Regulation of CNS precursor function by neuronal chemokines Neurosci Lett. 715:134533, issue on “The Oligodendrocyte Niche in Development and Repair”

Voronova A., Yuzwa S.A., Wang B., Siraj Z., Syal. C., Wang J., Kaplan D. R. and Miller F. D. (2017). Migrating interneurons secrete fractalkine to promote oligodendrocyte formation in the developing mammalian brain Neuron 94(3):500-516.e9. Featured article.

This paper was featured in Bandopadhayay P. and Stiles C.D. “Population Control: Cortical Interneurons Modulate Oligodendrogenesis” Neuron (2017) 94(3):415-417 and by the Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN).

Yuzwa S.A, Borrett M.J., Innes B., Voronova A., Ketela T., Kaplan D.R., Bader, G.D. and Miller F.D. (2017). Developmental emergence of adult neural stem cells as revealed by single cell transcriptional profiling Cell Rep. 21(13):3970-3986.

Gallagher D.*, Voronova A.*, Zander, M. A., Cancino G. I., Bramall A., Krause M. P., Abad C., Tekin M., Neilsen P. M., Callen D. F., Scherer S. W., Keller G. M., Kaplan D.R., Walz K. and Miller F. D. (2015). Ankrd11 is a chromatin regulator involved in autism that is essential for neural development. Dev. Cell, 32(1): 31-42.

Laboratory Members

Graduate Students

Adrianne Watson

Nicole Dittmann

Kara Goodkey

Sana Bibi

Yana Kibalnyk