UVic study explores long-term effects of alcohol and cannabis during pregnancy

A UVic study is exploring the effects of prenatal marijuana and alcohol consumption on learning and memory processes.

A University of Victoria researcher has received a grant to explore the long-term impacts of cannabis and alcohol use during pregnancy.

Brian Christie, of UVic’s Division of Medical Sciences, received $841,500 over five years for Drinking with Mary Jane: Understanding sex differences in the effects of prenatal marijuana and alcohol consumption for learning and memory processes.

Christie will explore how prenatal exposure to these substances affects the developing brain, in particular how cannabis and alcohol use during pregnancy affects learning and memory processes, and could potentially lead to addictive behaviours later in life.

Two of Christie’s PhD students, Erin Grafe and Hannah Reid, as well as a visiting PhD student, Melanie Lysenko-Martin, are trainee co-applicants for this grant and the funding will also support part of their thesis work.

The grant was among a larger $3.4-million allocation from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The money comes from CIHR’s fall 2021 Project Grant competition.

In addition to Christie’s research, the funds will support additional UVic health research studying the use of 2SLGBTQQIA+ patients’ medical data, and a study that could aid in the future development of retinal prosthetic devices to combat diseases associated with blindness. A fourth study is looking at Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive loss of motor skills and speech.

“We are delighted about this investment of new CIHR funding for UVic health researchers,” says Lisa Kalynchuk, UVic’s vice-president, research and innovation. “This success was supported through the efforts of the UVic Health Initiative, which is raising the profile and quality of health research across campus.

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