Christian Naus’ research program explores the role of gap junction channels and their proteins (connexins and pannexins) in disease, including consequences of mutations on gap junction structure and function, and the role of these intercellular channels in diagnosis of disease and development of novel therapeutic strategies. Gap junctions are collections of intercellular membrane channels that join adjacent cells in every organ of the body. They allow a variety of small molecules to pass freely from cell to cell, coupling the cells metabolically and allowing them to coordinate their responses to various signals. The importance of gap junctions has become evident with the identification of diseases resulting from mutations or altered expression in connexin genes, including neurological disorders, congenital cataracts, deafness, heart defects and skin diseases. In May 2012, Dr. Naus held a Wall Colloquium Abroad at the Collège de France, Paris titled The Role of Gap Junction Proteins in Health and Disease.
Dr. Naus received a PhD in Anatomy (1985) from the University of Western Ontario (UWO), followed by postdoctoral studies at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. He then became an MRC Scholar in the Faculty of Medicine at UWO in 1987, where he developed a successful research program in neurodevelopment and disease, focusing on the newly emerging family of genes which encode the proteins forming unique intercellular gap junction channels. As a full professor, he was recruited to the Faculty of Medicine at UBC in 2002 to Head the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. In 2003, he was also appointed interim Head of Physiology as he guided the merger of these two Departments into the current Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences.
Currently Director of the Life Sciences Institute since 2009, he has promoted the interdisciplinary goals of this multi-Faculty and multi-Department research unit, dedicated to discovery research in biomedical and health sciences. Dr. Naus holds a Canada Research Chair in Gap Junctions and Disease, and was recently elected to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Dr. Naus is an awardee of the 2014 French Scholar Lecture Series/Cycle de conférenciers français à l'université de Colombie-Britannique, hosted by the Consulate General of France in Vancouver in partnership with the Peter Wall Institute. The program will bring Professor Marc Mesnil, University of Poitiers, to UBC to participate in a public lecture and other symposia and discussions with UBC scholars.