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Deborah Kurrasch

Associate Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, University of Calgary

Kurrasch’s research is focused on genetic programs that govern hypothalamic development using both mice and zebrafish as model organisms.


Fashion Calgary Portrait Campaign 2015 - Deborah Kurrasch

Fashion Calgary Portrait Campaign 2015 - Deborah Kurrasch

Emerging Picture on Role of EDCs, Microbiome in Obesity, Diabetes

Medscape, December 18, 2015Online


Dr Kurrasch went on to describe the knowledge base to date on the more than 100 known endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which are believed to interfere with hormone systems, either by mimicking hormones or blocking normal hormonal signaling ...

5 Ways To Store Food Without Plastic

Huffington Post, February 24, 2016Online


The problem, as outlined by the study, is that "[a] lot of the alternative chemicals have not been adequately tested because they don't have to be," said lead author Deborah Kurrasch ...

Shox2 is required for the proper development of the facial motor nucleus and the establishment of the facial nerves

Published by BMC Neuroscience

2015 Axons from the visceral motor neurons (vMNs) project from nuclei in the hindbrain to innervate autonomic ganglia and branchial arch-derived muscles. Although much is known about the events that govern specification of somatic motor neurons, the genetic pathways responsible for the development of vMNs are less well characterized.


Protocadherins and Hypothalamic Development: Do They Play An Unappreciated Role?

Published by Journal of Neuroendocrinology

2015 Normal brain development requires coordinated cell movements at precise times. It has long been established that cell–cell adhesion proteins of the cadherin superfamily are involved in the adhesion and sorting of cells during tissue morphogenesis. In the present review, we focus on protocadherins, which form the largest subfamily of the cadherin superfamily and mediate homophilic cell–cell adhesion in the developing brain.


Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A and replacement bisphenol S induces precocious hypothalamic neurogenesis in embryonic zebrafish

Published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA

2015 Here we demonstrate that bisphenol A (BPA) exposure during a time point analogous to the second trimester in humans has real and measurable effects on brain development and behavior. Furthermore, our study is the first, to our knowledge, to show that bisphenol S, a replacement used in BPA-free products, equally affects neurodevelopment.


Mice lacking the transcription factor SHOX2 display impaired cerebellar development and deficits in motor coordination

Published by Developmental Biology

2015 Purkinje cells of the developing cerebellum secrete the morphogen sonic hedgehog (SHH), which is required to maintain the proliferative state of granule cell precursors (GCPs) prior to their differentiation and migration to form the internal granule layer (IGL). Despite a wealth of knowledge regarding the function of SHH during cerebellar development, the upstream regulators of Shh expression during this process remain largely unknown. Here we report that the murine short stature homeobox 2 (Shox2) gene is required for normal Shh expression in dorsal-residing Purkinje cells.


Adverse morphological development in embryonic zebrafish exposed to environmental concentrations of contaminants individually and in mixture

Published by Aquatic Toxicology

2016 Exposure to environmental contaminants has been linked to developmental and reproductive abnormalities leading to infertility, spontaneous abortion, reduced number of offspring, and metabolic disorders.



Deborah M. Kurrasch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Calgary and a Scientist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Kurrasch’s research is focused neural development, using both mice and zebrafish as model organisms. The Kurrasch laboratory is particularly interested in how chemicals in our environment might be affecting normal brain development in utero. Her lab has shown that the exposure to the plasticizer bisphenol A (BPA) and its replacement BPS causes more neurons to be born at the wrong time, thereby potentially leading to inappropriate circuitry formations that may lead to problems later in life such as ADHD. Kurrasch's lab is currently exploring potential agents that may block the effects of these chemicals during pregnancy and also is now collaborating with clinicians to translate her work into humans. In addition, her lab has also developed a novel drug screening platform that uses zebrafish seeks to uncover therapies for a variety of CNS disorders. Their lead compound is now starting clinical trials for epilepsy and she is now pivoting her platform to other clinically resistant disorders such as autism. Her work is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, among other private foundations, and she currently is the Lead PI on a large, multi-center grant funded by Brain Canada. Kurrasch received her PhD in Molecular Pharmacology from Purdue University and conducted two postdoctoral fellowships, one at the University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and one at the University of California – San Francisco. Kurrasch has received various awards for her scholarly work, and was recently selected to Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 (2012).


Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 | Professional

2012 "They are our educators, innovators and entrepreneurs. They rule the C-suite and both the corporate and volunteer boardrooms. Whether in the arts, non-profits, oil and gas, law, finance or medicine, they are doing more and doing it better and faster."

Additional Titles and Affiliations

CEO and Co-Founder : Path Therapeutics Inc.

Past Talks

The role of microglia in hypothalamic development

Satellite Symposium on Forebrain Development, Canadian Developmental Biology Meeting

Banff, AB, March 16, 2016

Hormone control of neural progenitors during embryonic brain development, and interference by EDCs

Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Endocrine Disruptors

Sunday River, Maine, June 19, 2016

Development of non-neuronal cells critical for central control of obesity

2016 Obesity Summit

London, UK, April 12, 2016

Bisphenol A and its replacement BPS induce precocious neurogenesis and hyperactivity in zebrafish

The International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies

Honolulu, Hawaii, December 15, 2015

A zebrafish-based platform to uncover drugs that restore mitochondrial function

Zebrafish for Personalized Medicine Conference

Toronto, ON, September 23, 2015

Research Grants

Platform Support Grant

Organization: Brain Canada
Date: January 1, 2016
Grant amount: 2953370


2015-2018 "High-impact research in neuroscience and mental health has always required skill, imagination, determination and insight, and nowadays it also requires access to shared equipment, facilities, services, databases, computing and informatics facilities, patient repositories, and biobanks, collectively referred to as technology 'platforms'."

More information:

Research Grant

Organization: Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Date: January 1, 2012
Grant amount: 615000


2012-2017 For Molecular Mechanisms Governing Hypothalamic Development and Disease.

More information:

Discovery Grant

Organization: NSERC
Date: January 1, 2016
Grant amount: 165000


2016-2021 The Discovery Grants Program supports ongoing programs of research (with long-term goals) rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects.

More information:

Discovery Grant

Organization: NSERC
Date: January 1, 2010
Grant amount: 135000


2010-2015 For Regulation of Neuropeptidergic Cell Homeostasis.

More information:

Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellowship Competition

Organization: University of Calgary
Date: January 1, 2014
Grant amount: 110000


Program to recruit top-tier postdoctoral fellows, 50 awarded/200 applicants.

More information:


  • Scientific Writing
  • Pharmacology
  • Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • In Vivo
  • Genetics
  • Confocal Microscopy
  • Drug Discovery
  • Developmental Biology
  • Bisphenol A
  • Bisphenols


  • Purdue University
    Ph.D., 2002
  • Purdue University
    B.S., 1996

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