Picture of a man looking through a microscope

The Brain Power Lab

Mission Statement

The principal objective of the BrainPowerLab is to delineate the molecular processes underlying the causes and progression of infectious and inflammatory diseases of the nervous system. By elucidating these fundamental mechanisms, we aim to aid translation to improved patient care, including diagnostic tools and treatments, for people affected by these disorders. The laboratory's chief diseases of interest include HIV infection of the nervous system and multiple sclerosis. 

  • Retroviral infections of the nervous system
  • Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation
  • Neural Cell survival
  • Neuropathogenesis
  • Emerging Neurologic Infections
  • Real -time RT-PCR
  • Molecular cloning
  • Animal models of MS and NeuroAIDS
  • Immunocytochemistry / neuropathology
  • siRNA development
  • DNA microarray
  • Viral vector-mediated gene expression
  • Immunoblotting
  • Electrophysiology (patch clamp)
  • Neurobehavioural analysis (animals and humans)
  • Primary cell culture
  • Cell proliferation assays
  • FACS
  • Reverse transcriptase assays
  • microRNA analysis
  • Deep sequencing
  • Calcium imaging


Dr. Christopher Power


Principal Investigator
Canada Research Chair(Tier 1 in Neurological Infection and Immunity)
Academic Biography

Christopher Power, B.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P(C) is a Professor at the University of Alberta and holds a Canada Research Chair in Neurologic Infection and Immunity. He received a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto and an M.D. from the University of Ottawa with subsequent training in medicine and neurology at McMaster University and the University of Western Ontario, respectively, and postdoctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health in neurovirology. Dr. Power is a physician-scientist who studies the mechanisms of neuroinflammatory diseases and their treatments including multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuroHIV. In addition to directing his laboratory, the BrainPowerLab, he is also an attending physician in the University of Alberta HIV and MS Clinics and is the founding Director of the University of Alberta MS Centre. He is an author on over 200 peer-reviewed publications and holds grants from CIHR and MS Society of Canada.

William Branton

Picture of William Branton

Senior Lab Technician

Academic Background and Interests:

William is a researcher with nearly 20 years of experience in studying host microbe interactions. His current projects focus on measuring host and pathogen derived gene and protein interactions in diseased tissue by various techniques including confocal microscopy and next generation sequencing.


MSc, Universi

Jason Fernandes

Picture of Jason Fernandes

Lab Technician/Prospective MSc Student

Academic Background and Interests:
Jason finds the study of viruses to be particularly captivating, he believes they are a perfect example of the exquisite beauty molecular biology has to offer. Specifically, he is fascinated by retroviruses like HIV. To achieve a functional cure of HIV, it is necessary to eradicate viral reservoirs present in various areas of the body, such as the brain. One aspect of research in the Power lab seeks to understand the underlying viral and innate neuroimmunological mechanisms that allow HIV to persist in the brain.

BSc (Honours) Immunology and Infection, University of Alberta (2018)

CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarships-Masters (CGS-M; 2018)
AIHS Summer Studentship (2016, 2017)
URI Undergraduate Researcher Stipend (2018)

Brittyne Hlavay


MSc Graduate Student

Academic Background and Interests:

After completing my B.Sc in Immunology and Infection, I knew that I wanted to continue to work in research. I am interested in studying the interaction between the immune system and the nervous system, as well as the role of the microbiome in this interaction. As a lab technician at the Power Lab, I’ve had the opportunity to explore these interests in the context of neurotropic pegivirus and Multiple Sclerosis. I hope to follow my passion for science and pursue a Masters degree.


BSc (Honours) Immunology & Infection, University of Alberta, 2019.

Awards :

Alberta Innovates Summer Research Studentship Award, 2018
URI Undergraduate Researcher Stipend, 2019

Hajar Miranzadeh Mahabadi


Postdoctoral Fellow

Academic Background and Interests:

I completed a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology followed by an MSc in genetics in Iran. I moved to Canada in September 2015 and started a PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Saskatchewan, working on the role of cellular prion protein in trafficking of GluA2-containing AMPARs to the neuronal lipid raft. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Christopher Power’s laboratory. My research focuses on a novel protein implicated in cell death in the nervous system through its expression in human glial cells and its critical role in the inflammasome/pyroptosis axis in the brain.

Nazanin Mohammadzadeh

Picture of Nazanin Mohammadzadeh

PhD candidate

Academic Background and Interests:
I completed my MSc (2018) at the University of Saskatchewan, where I studied the role of human APOBEC3 enzymes in HIV-1 evolution. I am interested in the interaction of host restriction factors and HIV-1. To follow my passion, I joined Dr. Power's lab at the University of Alberta in September 2019 to study the landscape of host-viral interactions in the HIV-1 infected brain. My research focuses on the correlation of upregulated host restriction factors in HIV-1 infected brains and the development of HIV associated neurological disorders.

BSC Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Azad University Tehran Medical Branch, Iran
MSc Microbiology and Immunology, University of Saskatchewan

U of A Graduate Fellowship Scholarship

Natacha Lima Leite Ogando



Academic Background and Interests:

Since a young age, Natacha had a passion for science which began with her
playing around with her microscope on field walks and watching cartoons
like “Dexter’s Laboratory”. Her background in microbiology and her
fascination for viruses made her jump between industry (worked at
Genentech and Medimmune) and academia (studied at Catholic University
of Portugal and University of Santiago of Compostela) to chase interesting
research opportunities. During most of her career time, she worked with RNA
viruses in different fields: detection of norovirus and hepatitis virus (HAV and
HEV) contamination in seafood; selection of influenza strains for vaccine
production; and screening of antivirals against different coronavirus. After
completing her PhD, Natacha decided to pursue her interest for neuroscience
and combine it with her virology background. Currently, her research focuses
on studying viruses that can cause neurodegenerative diseases and to
understand the mechanisms behind it. Besides her interest in lab work, she
tries to participate (as much as possible), in science outreach events and to
explore the beautiful nature in Canada.

PhD in Virology, Leiden University Medical Centre, NL, 2021.
MSc in Applied Microbiology, Catholic University of Portugal, PT, 2012.
BSc in Bioscience, Catholic University of Portugal, PT, 2008.

Fellowship Marie Skłodowska-Curie, EU Horizon 2020, 2015.
Erasmus Scholarship for mobility in Europe in 2009.

For more information:

Niall Pollock


Postdoctoral Fellow

Academic Background and Interests:

Niall did his MSc with Nigel Hooper at the University of Leeds, working on pathological pathways in Alzheimer’s disease leading to cell death, with one of the proteins of interest being the cellular prion protein. He wanted to develop my interest in prion protein, and neurodegeneration further and started a PhD in Ted Allison’s lab here at the U of A in 2016 using zebrafish to study the normal functions of cellular prion protein. After finishing his PhD, Niall joined the Power Lab and researches pathogenic pathways in neurodegeneration, and inflammation.

Andrej Roczkowsky


MD Student

Academic Background and Interests:

Andrej is a medical (MD) student entering into his second year of study at the University of Alberta. After completing his BSc. with specialization in pharmacology (2016), Andrej obtained his MSc. in Pharmacology (2019) from the University of Alberta in Dr. Richard Schulz lab studying the role of intracellular proteases in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury. In the Power Lab, Andrej now studies inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system. His current research projects focus on the role of peroxisome dysfunction in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and the contributions of neuroinflammation on the neurological sequelae of COVID-19. 


News & Announcements

The Brain Power Laboratory
Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology
6-11 Heritage Medical Research Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB T6G 2S2

Dr. Christopher Power
Principal Investigator
Email: chris.power@ualberta.ca

Kelsey Dewar
Research Administrator
Email: poweradm@ualberta.ca
Phone: 780-407-1938
Fax: 780-407-1984