Bluma Tischler Postdoctoral Fellowship

Deadline: Likely March, 2021

The Bluma Tischler Postdoctoral Fellowship Award is for MD or PhD graduates in Medicine, Biochemistry, Genetics, or associated disciplines carrying out research on the biochemical or genetic aspects of intellectual developmental disorders or other neurological disorders.


$20,400 for one year. Holders of the award may apply for a second year.


Applicants must hold a postdoctoral appointment at the University of British Columbia for the full duration of the fellowship (see criteria here). No citizenship restrictions apply.  The amount of funding currently held by the candidate may be taken into consideration.

Application Procedures

A completed application consists of:

1. Application for the Fellowship
a.) Complete, sign and scan the Application Form in either PDF or Word formats.
b.) Submit the Application Form via the online portal (currently closed).

2. Letters of support from three sponsors
One letter should be from the proposed supervisor of the candidate, and the others from individuals familiar with the candidate’s academic and research abilities.  Sponsors are asked to comment on the applicant’s research potential and achievements, interpersonal skills, academic abilities, and greatest strengths and weaknesses. Letters should be sent directly from the sponsor, addressed to Dr. Michael Hunt, Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, and emailed to: To facilitate a blind review process, please ask your supervisor to not use your name, gender specific pronouns, or similar identifying characteristics in their letters. They should refer to you as “The PDF” as needed. 

Please note: no RPIF is needed for this award.

Previous Recipients

Dr. Ryan Hoiland is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Cellular & Physiological Sciences working under the supervision of Dr. Christopher West. Following the completion of his graduate studies, Dr. Hoiland has become considered an expert in the field of cerebral vascular physiology, particularly in the context of how the brain regulates its blood supply when there are reductions in the amount of oxygen in the blood (termed hypoxia). Now working with Dr. West, Ryan hopes to leverage lessons learned from his graduate work to better understand how traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) may be treated in the acute setting. The initial traumatic component of SCI causes an immediate loss of descending brainstem control over the heart and circulation, which imparts an immediate and persistent impairment in cardiovascular function. Cardiac and vascular dysfunction then contribute to impaired spinal cord blood flow and oxygenation following SCI. Current clinical management of SCI involves the infusion of vasopressors to increase blood pressure and essentially push more blood and oxygen to the spinal cord. Dr. Hoiland’s research project aims to determine the potential therapeutic efficacy of augmenting nitric oxide levels in the blood as neuroprotective strategy to improve blood flow and oxygenation following SCI with or without concurrent standard clinical management of blood pressure.

Dr. Alex Williams is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Cellular & Physiological Sciences working under the supervision of Dr. Christopher West and Dr. Brian Kwon. Working at the International Collaboration for Repair Discoveries (ICORD), Dr. Williams’ key research interests surround the cardiac consequences of traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI). When SCI occurs above the 5th thoracic level, there is a partial or complete loss of descending sympathetic nervous system control of the heart and vasculature, which drastically alters cardiac function and produces debilitating hypotension. Currently, the most common clinical treatment of acute SCI utilizes hemodynamic management with vasopressors that increase vascular tone and blood pressure. This approach however does not always produce favorable outcomes for patients, and does not consider the profound changes to cardiac function. To address this, Dr. Williams’ research explores cardiac-centered therapy as a novel and effective approach to optimizing hemodynamic management in acute SCI, and aims to ultimately improve neurological outcomes after injury.

Dr. Rahul Sachdeva is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Medicine working under the supervision of Dr. Andrei V. Krassioukov. Dr. Sachdeva investigates how blood pressure dysfunction after spinal cord injury damages blood vessels in the brain and leads to cognitive impairment. Despite the knowledge that cognitive impairment drastically impacts the rehabilitation process, social integration, and quality of life of up to 60% of individuals with spinal cord injury, it has to-date been an underappreciated research avenue. Using a review of clinical literature, Dr. Sachdeva has reported that impaired cardiovascular control is a major cause of cognitive impairment after spinal cord injury. The Bluma Tischler Fellowship allows Dr. Sachdeva to investigate the mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment after spinal cord injury and to test multiple promising treatments in animal models. Specifically, Dr. Sachdeva will examine whether restoring cardiovascular function through either protection or regeneration of neural pathways can improve cognitive function in a rodent model of spinal cord injury. Results obtained from this study will provide valuable insights into key mechanisms affecting mental health in individuals with spinal cord injury and will contribute towards the foundation for clinical translation

Dr. Jerome Robert is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine working under the supervision of Dr. Cheryl Wellington. Dr. Robert studies the role of the brain vessels in the pathology and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, the leading cause of dementia with over 44 million affected persons and an economic burden of over $600 billion worldwide. In addition to the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangle and beta-amyloid (Ab) plaques, the pathological hallmark of AD, the role of brain vessels in the development of the disease is increasingly recognized with deposition of Ab deposition in the vessel wall and vascular degeneration. In the Wellington lab, Dr. Robert developed a unique model of human brain vessels in the test tube, which reproduced AD pathology. His proposal will now use this model to test the hypothesis that high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) may help to reduce Ab-mediated damage to cerebral vessels and thereby serve as a resilience factor for dementia. His proposed studies will fill critical gaps in understanding how human brain vessels serve as a key interface between brain and body, and set the stage toward personalized medicine approaches to assess dementia risk and develop preventative and therapeutic strategies.

Tobiansky, Daniel--Bluma Tischler 2016Dr. Daniel Tobiansky is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Kiran K. Soma and Dr. Stan B. Floresco. His proposal will test the novel hypothesis that testosterone is synthesized in the brain (neuro-testosterone) and influences motivation via the dopamine system. Anergia (i.e., a general lack of motivation) is one of the most intractable symptoms of depression. Depression and related disorders, in turn, account for nearly 80 percent of all psychiatric disorders in Canada. In clinical studies, testosterone treatment ameliorates symptoms of depression, but systemic testosterone treatment can increase the risk of prostate cancer and other adverse events. Examining the biochemical pathways and dietary manipulations that specifically increase neuro-testosterone synthesis may provide innovative treatment options for depression without exposing the prostate and other peripheral tissues to testosterone. In addition, these studies have clinical relevance for men being treated for prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer are typically treated with abiraterone and other drugs that reduce androgen synthesis or action. Importantly, abiraterone crosses the blood-brain barrier, but it is unclear whether abiraterone has side effects on the brain or cognition. The proposed studies will shed light on these issues and provide novel insights into the roles of testosterone in mental health.