Dr. Marc J. Poulin, PhD, DPhil, FPhysiol
Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Clinical Neurosciences
Faculty of Kinesiology
Brenda Strafford Foundation Chair in Alzheimer Research
Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Libin Cardiovascular Institute
O'Brien Institute for Public Health
Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education
Office: +1 (403) 220-8372
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D.Phil Human Cerebrovascular Physiology, University of Oxford, 2000
Ph.D Respiratory Physiology and Ageing, University of Western Ontario, 1993
F.Physiol Fellow, The Physiological Society of Great Britian , 2017
Certificate Programme Spécialisé de B.É.P.S Faculty of Kinesiology, Université Laurentienne, 1986
Certificat de Bilinguisme Université Laurentienne, 1986
Marc Poulin is Professor of Physiology in the Cumming School of Medicine (Departments of Physiology & Pharmacology, and Clinical Neurosciences) and the Faculty of Kinesiology. He is a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, and the O’Brien Institute of Public Health. He also holds the Brenda Strafford Foundation (Endowed) Chair in Alzheimer Research. He obtained a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education (Honors) from Laurentian University (Sudbury, Ontario; 1986), an MA and PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada; 1988 and 1993) and a DPhil in Respiratory and Cerebrovascular Human Physiology from the University of Oxford (New College; Oxford, UK; 1999). He is an internationally recognized leader in cerebrovascular regulation, sleep, high altitude physiology, and in the processing of biological signals. The Poulin Lab uses transcranial Doppler ultrasound, NIRS, neuroimaging, and novel approaches (i.e., dynamic end-tidal forcing technique) to probe human physiology in health, disease and across the lifespan. Dr. Poulin has also worked with a number of industrial partners (e.g., Polar Electro Oy and ALMA). Dr. Poulin has had the privilege of supervising over 200 trainees, including 20 postdoctoral fellows and over 25 graduate students. Poulin has a track record of supporting women in science with 63% of trainees identifying as women. Previous trainees hold faculty positions at top universities in Canada and abroad (France, Australia, Japan). Dr. Poulin has published over 120 scientific papers. His work has been received 7000 citations and has an H-factor of 46.
Dr. Poulin leads a graduate training specialization program in Mountain Medicine and High-Altitude Physiology at the University of Calgary. This program aims to recruit Indigenous Peoples of under-developed mountainous countries. Since 2010, he has been interacting with Canadian mining companies to better understand the challenges imposed on miners who work at high altitude in South America. He currently serves on the scientific advisory board of the International Hypoxia Symposia Conference series and served as Editor for the journal Experimental Physiology (Physiological Society, UK; 2013-2017). He holds grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Dr. Poulin is Co-Director of the NSERC BRAIN CREATE Interdisciplinary Training Program for New Neurotechnologies (2019-2026). This program has dedicated trainee positions for Indigenous trainees from across Canada.
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: Dr. Poulin’s research group strives to recruit and accommodate trainees with diverse training and backgrounds. Trainees have access to career development and advancement opportunities regardless of sex, gender and background. Dr. Poulin’s trainees reflect a wide range of age (17-81 years), racialized groups and cultures. Dr. Poulin has supported trainees from many different countries including Canada, Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, Switzerland, UK and the USA.
Areas of Research
The Brain in Motion II Study is examining the relationship between exercise, cerebral blood flow, and cognition in older adults who are at increased risk of Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias and the role that exercise might play in the prevention of cognitive decline.
We are looking for 264 individuals to volunteer in an 18-month randomized controlled trial, which includes either a six-month aerobic exercise program, or a six-month stretch and strength program.
For more details visit our website here.
Our research strives to yield important new knowledge about the basic mechanisms that regulate cerebral blood flow (CBF) in humans.
Regulation of CBF involves complex integration of multiple systems and is affected by physiological and environmental conditions. Thus, it is important to understand the integrated regulations of these systems under controlled environmental conditions.
The infrastructure within our laboratory is essential to help us carry out integrative studies to better understand the human brain circulation.
We possess the following systems and equipment:
For more details on our research, including the systems and equipment we use, visit our website here.
In healthy humans, brain blood flow is influenced by changes in the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the circulating blood. However, the brain's important ability to regulate its blood flow is impaired in disease processes such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). People who have OSA stop breathing intermittently throughout the night, resulting in repeated episodes of low oxygen and high carbon dioxide in the blood. Because of these repeated episodes, the ability of the brain vessels to regulate blood flow becomes impaired. This impairment can lead to hypertension and stroke. The mechanisms that regulate brain blood flow in health, and how these mechanisms become impaired with disease, is poorly understood. We are studying, in an experimental human model of intermittent hypoxia during sleep, the effects of intermittent hypoxia on the regulation of brain blood flow and the role of changes in brain blood flow on the stability of breathing. We are also studying the extent to which the brain blood flow response to low oxygen is altered in a broad range of patients with moderate to severe OSA. Finally, we are trying to determine if the brain blood flow impairments observed in untreated OSA patients can be corrected after treatment with night-time continuous positive airway pressure. This work may help us better understand conditions such as hypertension, OSA, stroke and aging, in which endothelium-dependent relaxation (i.e., relaxation of cells that line brain blood vessels) by nitric oxide is impaired. Our research will provide useful information about how well treatment for OSA reverses brain blood flow impairments that may lead to stroke. Ultimately, this will translate into improved health and disease prevention for Canadians.
For more details on our research, including the techniques and equipment we use, visit our website here. Additional details are included on the Canadian Sleep Society Researchers Map website here.
Athletic populations and those participating in leisure or work activities at high altitude also stand to benefit from this research. At higher altitudes, the partial pressure of oxygen decreases, making exercise and physical activity more difficult. A better understanding of ventilatory and cerebrovascular acclimatization is an important area of study that will help us better understand altitude-related disorders such as acute mountain sickness, high altitude cerebral edema and high altitude pulmonary edema. This program is part of a new and exciting initiative in Mountain Medicine and High Altitude Physiology at the University of Calgary.
Dr. Poulin leads a graduate training specialization program in Mountain Medicine and High Altitude Physiology. Since 2010, our team has been collaborating with partners in South America. In one instance, we are interacting with Canadian mining companies to better understand the challenges imposed on miners working at high altitude in South America. In another instance, we are conducting high altitude research projects at the ALMA Observatory in Northern Chile.
Exercise physiology knowledge is increasingly recognized as a necessary building block for disease prevention and treatment paradigms. Research in exercise physiology has shown that the many benefits of regular exercise are irrefutable, but we need to further explore the optimal exercise dose and modality for different clinical populations.
The CTEP Laboratory is a state-of-the-art research facility dedicated to health promotion and wellness for all by advancing and translating knowledge on the role of exercise in the prevention and management of chronic disease.
For more details on our research, including the systems and equipment we use, visit our website here.
Participation in university strategic initiatives
- Guenter Distinguished Achievement Award for International Health, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. 2017
- School of Human Kinetics Exceptional Alumni Award, Laurentian University/Université Laurentienne. 2014
- Watanabe Distinguished Achievement Award , Faculty of Medicine University of Calgary. 2008
- AHFMR Heritage Research Prize for Medical Scholarship, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. 2005
- Diploma, The International Summer School in Copenhagen, Panum Institute, Copenhagen Denmark. 1999
- Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, (Held at: Laboratory of Physiology, Univ. of Oxford, U.K.). 1996
- Scholarship for Goethe Institute German Language Course, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Bonn Germany. 1996
- Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Medical Research Council of Canada, (Held at: Laboratory of Physiology, Univ. of Oxford, U.K.). 1993
- Graduate Research Fellowship Faculty of Graduate Studies, The University of Western Ontario. 1992
- Graduate Studies Research Award, Faculty of Graduate Studies, The University of Western Ontario. 1992
- Advanced Studies Bursary, Gerontology Research Council of Ontario. 1990
- Graduate Studies Fellowship Health Research Personnel Development Program, Ontario Ministry of Health. 1990
- Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities. 1989
- Faculty Entrance Scholarship, Ph.D. program, The University of Western Ontario. 1988
- Faculty Entrance Scholarship, M.A. program, The University of Western Ontario. 1986
- CAHPER Student Award, Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. 1985
- Bourse pour etudier en francais, Ministere des Colleges et Universites, Province de l'Ontario. 1982
- Bourse d'Admission, programme specialise de B.E.P.S., Universite Launentienne. 1982
In the News
- Why You Should Be Thinking About Healthy Aging Now. Avenue Magazine. (2021)
- Boosting your brain’s health; Being active, good nutrition and proper sleep can combat the effects of cognitive aging. Calgary Herald. (2021)
- Exercise can make the brain function at a level five years younger: U of C researchers. CTV news Calgary. (2020)
- Resurgence of aerobics and exercise during 2020 and the pandemic. In Press, LA TIMES. Author Ilana Kaplan.
- How aerobic exercise helps us to keep out wits about us as we age; University of Calgary study shows it’s never too late to see the brain benefits from regular exercise. UCalgary News, O’Brien Institute for Public Health. (2020)
- University of Calgary research reveals complexity of relationship between exercise and cognitive health. The Gauntlet Magazine. (2017)
- Leading the Way, University of Calgary Researchers Dr. Eric Smith and Dr. Marc Poulin are on the forefront of early dementia diagnosis and prevention. pp 20-23, Dementia Connections Magazine. (2017)
- Brain In Motion Study aims to advance knowledge of relationship between exercise and brain health. Cumming School of Medicine News Digest. (2017)
- Do you know how to keep your brain healthy?. Canadian Living Magazine. (2017)
- Seven Healthy Habits Through the Ages; Healthy Habit for Your 60s Train the Brain. p 28, UCalgary Alumni Magazine. (2017)
- Brain Health and the role of exercise on the aging brain. Morning North with Barry Mercer, CBC Radio Canada. (2014)
- Brain Health and the role of exercise on the aging brain. Afternoon Road Show, CBC Radio Canada. (2014)
- A primer on the highs and lows of altitude training. Globe and Mail. (2013)
- U of Calgary seeks brain study volunteers. CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). (2011)
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