Dr. Christopher Power

Professor
Department of Medicine
    Contact details are for academic matters only.

About Me

My research program combines my expertise as a clinician with my laboratory’s research to yield new disease markers and treatments for persons with brain disorders involving neuroinflammation, particularly multiple sclerosis (MS) and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). Neuroinflammation is a key aspect of many neurological diseases that is driven by specific cells and molecules in the brain, contributing to neurotrauma, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. 

My research group works at the interface between clinical and laboratory research for which we have developed patient cohorts with associated biobanks of tissue samples and databases that we can investigate using cutting-edge technologies in my laboratory. We have established a “circle of research” that comprises clinical and laboratory research with reciprocal interactions between my Multiple sclerosis (MS) and HIV clinics and my laboratory, which are also infused with new ideas, technologies and trainees during information flow between the laboratory and clinics. Additionally, my group interacts with a broad range of collaborators globally and across Canada. 

The outputs from my research program include: (1) discovering the fundamental causes and triggering mechanisms involved in neuroinflammation in humans. (2) Development of indicators (biomarkers) of MS and HAND. (3) Inventing therapies for diseases in which neuroinflammation is an essential and causative factor, thereby improving the lives of my patients affected by these diseases together with training the next generation of biomedical scientists in Canada.     

Internationally recognized clinician-scientist Dr. Chris Power trained in internal medicine, neurology and neurovirology. In addition to his appointments within the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta, he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary. 

Leadership and Collaborations:

Dr. Power is the founding director of the University of Alberta Multiple Sclerosis Centre. He is Vice Dean for Research in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. He collaborates with laboratories in Canada and around the world. 


Teaching

Dr. Power teaches in undergraduate and graduate courses (Neuro 210, 410) as well as medical students (Y3 headache, stroke and seizures) and residents (neurological infections).


Research

Dr. Power holds a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Neurological Infections and Immunity. He runs the interdisciplinary Brain Power Lab which investigates the molecular and cellular processes that cause and promote infectious and inflammatory diseases of the nervous system. Two areas of focus are HIV infection of the brain and multiple sclerosis (MS). The Power Brain Lab aims to translate findings into clinical diagnostic tools, therapies and treatments for people with nervous system diseases. 

Dr. Power has published more than 195 articles in peer-reviewed journals. A June 2018 article in PNAS (McKenzie et al.) described a major finding by the Power Brain Lab team that included a type of programmed cell death that affects myelin producing cells in the brain during MS. Another finding that Power and his colleagues made in 2017 was that patients’ HIV infection had detectable virus in the brain despite absent virus in the blood due to reduced antiretroviral medication levels in the brain and limited efficiency of those medications in HIV-infected brain cells (Asahchop et al., Retrovirology). The Brain Power Lab also recently reported a new type of human encephalitis associated with human pegivirus infection of the brain glial cells (Balcom, Doan et al., Annals of Neurology). 


Research Keywords

cell death, HIV, inflammasome, inflammation, microbiome, multiple sclerosis, Nervous system, neuroimmunology, neurovirology