Director and Core Members

Front Row (L to R)- Heng-Yong Nie PhD (Research scientist- Surface Science Western), Leo Lau PhD (Director- Surface Science Western), Raymond Thomas PhD. (postdoctoral fellow), Derrick MacFabe MD (Director- Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group), Mary Jane Walzak (Research Scientist- Surface Science Western), Jessica Benzaquen (MSc. Student), Lisa Huynh (Work Study Student)

Middle Row (L to R)- Fred Possmayer PhD (Biochemistry/Obstetrics and Gynecology), Klaus-Peter Ossenkopp PhD (Psychology), Sandy Shultz MSc (PhD student), Melissa Meeking (MSc student), Jennifer Mepham (MSc student), Kelly Foley MSc (PhD student), Lisa Tichenoff (Research and Administrative Manager)

Rear Row (L to R)- Donald Peter Cain PhD (Psychology), Francis Boon (Chief Behavioral Technologist), Roy Taylor (Chief Neuropathology Technologist)


Dr. Derrick MacFabe (M.D. FACN), Director and Co-Founder: Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group (KPEARG)
Cumming School of Medicine, U. of Calgary

Since 2003, Dr. MacFabe has been Assistant Professor and Director of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group, Depts. of Psychology (Neuroscience) & Psychiatry (Division of Developmental Disabilities), at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. He is also a Core Member of the iTARGET Autism Initiative, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Dr. MacFabe is currently a Visiting Sabbatical Professor at the Depts. of Physiology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary.

Dr. MacFabe’s research examines the role of the role of gut- microbiome-brain interactions on the identification and possible treatments of autism spectrum disorders. His research examining potential gastrointestinal and infective links in autism has been listed among the “Top 50 Scientific Discoveries in Canada” by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and was featured on the Canadian–EU documentary “The Autism Enigma.” He was recently called to speak at the Nobel Forum, The Gut in Focus, at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. MacFabe won the Max Bramer Award from the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry. He was last year’s recipient of the Mark Bieber Award from the American College of Nutrition and is a member of their Board of Directors.

Dr. MacFabe's background includes both basic and clinical neurological sciences. His expertise includes: cellular mechanisms of intra- and intercellular communication, metabolism and epigenetics in brain physiology and its implications in stroke, epilepsy, neurodegeneration and neurotrauma as well as neurodevelopmental disorders. He has a particular interest in the role of pre and post natal infectious processes and alterations of the gut microbiome in the etiology and behaviors of autism spectrum disorders. As a principal investigator within the KPEARG, he is actively contributing to the development of novel translational animal models as well as the role of genetics, biochemistry, microbiology and environment on the identification, prevention and possible treatments of autism spectrum disorders.

Core Research Staff:

Lisa Tichenoff (BSc.), Principle Laboratory Manager
Ms. Tichenoff is Principal Laboratory Manager for the Group. She has over 20 years of experience in neurological research and is responsible for the administrative operations of the Group as well as many of the rodent model neurosurgical procedures.

Francis Boon, Research Technologist – Animal Facility Social Science Centre
Mr. Boon has over 18 years of experience as Chief Research Technologist of the Psychobiology Group in the Department of Psychology at Western University. His techniques include animal stereotactic neurosurgery, CNS drug microinjection, EEG/ behavioral analysis, histology, rodent colony breeding for developmental studies, and the execution of complex behavioral assays for spatial memory, epilepsy, and movement disorders. Mr. Boon is responsible for the neurosurgical and epilepsy aspect of our behavioral model and for the training of graduate students.

Roy Taylor, Immunopathology Chief Technologist
Mr. Taylor has extensive experience in immunological and in situ neuropathological techniques utilizing fresh frozen, fixed or paraffin embedded tissues, and is responsible for the management, of our "autism model tissue library.