Faculty: W. McIntyre Burnham, PhD

Mac BurnhamW. McIntyre Burnham, PhD Professor Emeritus, Pharmacology
Director, University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program

General Research Area: Neuropharmacology
Studies of Seizures & Anticonvulsant Drugs

At present, we do not know why seizures occur, how they affect the brain, or how anticonvulsant drugs suppress them. My laboratory is working on these problems, using a variety of animal models and biochemical assays. Current projects include: 1) a study of how seizures enhance neurogenesis, gliosis and cell death; 2) a molecular biology study of the long-term effects of seizures on gene expression ; 3) a study of the anticonvulsant effects of progesterone-like compounds; 4) a study of the behavioral effects of seizures; and 5) a study of the mechanism of action of the ketogenic diet. 


Selected Recent Publications:

Thompson MD, Cole DE, Capra V, Siminovitch KA, Rovati GE, Burnham WM, Rana BK. Pharmacogenetics of the G protein-coupled receptors. Methods Mol Biol.2014;1175:189-242.

Trépanier MO, Lim J, Lai TK, Cho HJ, Domenichiello AF, Chen CT, Taha AY, Bazinet RP, Burnham WM. Intraperitoneal administration of docosahexaenoic acid for 14 days increases serum unesterified DHA and seizure latency in the maximal pentylenetetrazol model. Epilepsy Behav. 2014 Apr;33:138-43.

Taha AY, Zahid T, Epps T, Trepanier MO, Burnham WM, Bazinet RP, Zhang L. Selective reduction of excitatory hippocampal sharp waves by docosahexaenoic acid and its methyl ester analog ex-vivo. Brain Res. 2013 Nov 6;1537:9-17.

Jeffrey M, Lang M, Gane J, Wu C, Burnham WM, Zhang L. A reliable method for intracranial electrode implantation and chronic electrical stimulation in the mouse brain. BMC Neurosci. 2013 Aug 6;14:82.

Taha AY, Trepanier MO, Ciobanu FA, Taha NM, Ahmed M, Zeng Q, Cheuk WI, Ip B, Filo E, Scott BW, Burnham WM, Bazinet RP. A minimum of 3 months of dietary fish oil supplementation is required to raise amygdaloid afterdischarge seizure thresholds in rats--implications for treating complex partial seizures. Epilepsy  Behav. 2013 Apr;27(1):49-58.

Trépanier MO, Taha AY, Mantha RL, Ciobanu FA, Zeng QH, Tchkhartichvili GM, Domenichiello AF, Bazinet RP, Burnham WM. Increases in seizure latencies induced by subcutaneous docosahexaenoic acid are lost at higher doses. Epilepsy Res. 2012 May; 99(3):225-32. 

Taha AY, Burnham WM, Auvin S. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2010 Aug; 51(8):1348-58. 

Scott BW, Chan KF, Wong G, Ahmed M, Chieverton L, Liu RR, Wood J, Burnham WM. Cytogenesis in the adult rat dentate gyrus is increased following kindled seizures but is unaltered in pharmacological models of absence seizures. Epilepsy Behav. 2010 Jul; 18(3):179-85.

Scott BW, Park H, Han H, Wahidie A, Burnham WM. Extrafocal threshold reductions in amygdala-kindled rats. Epilepsia. 2010 Sep; 51(9):1729-35. 

Taha AY, Jeffrey MA, Taha NM, Bala S, Burnham WM. Acute administration of docosahexaenoic acid increases resistance to pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures in rats.Epilepsy Behav. 2010 Mar; 17(3):336-43. 

Taha AY, Alizadeh S, Zeng QH, Filo E, McPherson JP, Burnham WM. Assessing the metabolic and toxic effects of anticonvulsant doses of polyunsaturated fatty acids on the liver in rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2009; 72(19):1191-200. 

Higgins GA, Breysse N, Undzys E, Derksen DR, Jeffrey M, Scott BW, Xin T, Roucard C, Bressand K, Depaulis A, Burnham WM. Comparative study of five antiepileptic drugs on a translational cognitive measure in the rat: relationship to antiepileptic property. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Jan; 207(4):513-27. 

Hum KM, Megna S, Burnham WM. Lack of laterality in the effects of right and left amygdala kindling on weight gain in female rats. Epilepsy Res. 2009 Nov;87(1):40-6. 

Nylen K, Likhodii S, Burnham WM. The ketogenic diet: proposed mechanisms of action. Neurotherapeutics. 2009 Apr; 6(2):402-5. 

Taha AY, Henderson ST, Burnham WM. Dietary enrichment with medium chain triglycerides (AC-1203) elevates polyunsaturated fatty acids in the parietal cortex of aged dogs: implications for treating age-related cognitive decline. Neurochem Res. 2009 Sep; 34(9):1619-25. 

Hum KM, Megna S, Burnham WM. The effects of right and left amygdala kindling on the female reproductive system in rats. Epilepsia. 2009 Apr; 50(4):880-6. 

Nylen K, Velazquez JL, Sayed V, Gibson KM, Burnham WM, Snead OC 3rd. The effects of a ketogenic diet on ATP concentrations and the number of hippocampal mitochondria in Aldh5a1(-/-) mice. Biochem Biophys Acta. 2009 Mar; 1790(3):208-12.

Contact Address:

University of Toronto 
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Room 4379, Medical Sciences Building 
1 King's College Circle 
Toronto, Ontario 
M5S 1A8 
Phone: 416-978-0779
Email: mac.burnham@utoronto.ca