Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Health researcher studying the aging brain at UNBC

Named a 2021 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) scholar, Dr. Kendra Furber researches the aging brain. Specifically Furber’s research focuses on studying myelination in the central nervous system.
Brain aging UNBC
Dr. Kendra Furber of UNBC is a 2021 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research scholar.

Named a 2021 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) scholar, Dr. Kendra Furber researches the aging brain.

Specifically Furber’s research focuses on studying myelination in the central nervous system.

The myelin sheath, produced by cells called oligodendrocytes, surrounds nerves in a fatty, insulating layer that is important for proper transmission of nerve signals. The myelin sheath is damaged in many neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. Investigating the underlying biological processes may potentially lead to novel strategies for promoting repair mechanisms in the brain.

Furber is one of 32 researchers across the province to receive the award of $90,000 a year for five years from MSFHR which is BC’s health research funding agency. The scholar program offers support to researcher who are in the early stages of their career as they work to develop their programs and build their research teams.

“This funding will be key to not only allow me to grow my research program, but also for continuing to build capacity for biomedical research and facilitate collaborations across different health research disciplines in northern B.C.,” Furber, who joined the Northern Medical Program in 2019, said. “My research is aimed at understanding the biology of the myelin sheath in the brain, providing insights on how to prevent damage or promote repair under pathological conditions. I am also interested in the impact of aging on myelination, as many neurodegenerative conditions occur at later life stages.”

Furber said she’s always been fascinated by the complexity of the human body, especially the brain.

“There is still so much that we do not understand about how the brain functions,” Furber said. “The cells that produce the myelin sheath are really fascinating. I believe that understanding how our brains work at the molecular levels is critical for developing targeted treatments for neurodegenerative disorders.”

The myelin sheath, produced by cells called oligodendrocytes, surrounds nerves in a fatty, insulating layer that is important for proper transmission of nerve signals. The myelin sheath is damaged in many neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. Investigating the underlying biological processes may potentially lead to novel strategies for promoting repair mechanisms in the brain.

“I want to understand how groups of biomolecules function together as ‘molecular machines’ to guide cell development, specifically the development of oligodendrocytes, at a fundamental level and investigate the role of select biomolecules in experimental models of disease,” Furber said.

“The goal then would be to use this knowledge to develop novel, targeted therapeutic strategies to combat neurodegeneration in the context of aging. Ultimately, my hope is that this research will improve the health and quality of life for those living with neurological disorders.”