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Dr. Paul van Donkelaar

Associate Member

B.P.E. [Physical Education] (University of British Columbia)
M.P.E. [Physical Education] (University of British Columbia)
Ph.D. [Clinical Neurosciences] (University of Calgary)
Director, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia – Okanagan campus

Research Interests

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Dr. Paul van Donkelaar’s research focuses on gaining a better understanding of how the human brain is able to control movements. His lab studies this broad question in both healthy participants as well as in patients with damage to the brain due to a variety of injuries. For the basic science research, his team addresses questions related to the coordination between the eyes and hand, the interaction between cognitive/attention factors and motor output, and the predictive processes underlying motor planning and how they are implemented in the brain. For the clinically oriented research, his lab is currently focusing on the cerebrovascular, sensorimotor, and neurocognitive deficits following concussion. The lab makes use of behavioural experiments to address these issues and examine how the resulting deficits are related to changes in the underlying physiology and microstructural integrity in the brain. Finally, the basic and clinical findings are used to drive applied research in head protection.

Dr. van Donkelaar is an Associate Member at ICORD and the Director of the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Dr. van Donkelaar completed his undergrad and Master’s degrees at UBC and has a Ph.D. in Clinical Neurosciences from the University of Calgary. He subsequently completed post-doctoral training at Oxford University before obtaining a faculty position at the University of Oregon in 1997. He moved to his current position in 2011.

Recent Collaborations

Dr. van Donkelaar works with Dr. Peter Cripton on an industry-partnered project examining the efficacy of helmet liner materials to mitigate the forces imparted on the head during contact sport impacts.

He has collaborated with Dr. Alex Rauscher (UBC Department of Pediatrics) in using advanced myelin water imaging to characterize the white matter damage resulting from sport-related concussion.

He has recently initiated a collaboration with Dr. Eve Valera from Harvard University investigating the effects of traumatic brain injury in victims of intimate partner violence.

Techniques and Technology Employed in the Lab

Affiliations with Organizations

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • International Brain Injury Association

Current Lab Members

Master Students Ph.D. Students Postdoctoral Fellows
Kevin Bouliane Mike Kennefick Dr. Jon Smirl
Jill Dierijck Colin Wallace
Sarah Markson Sandy Wright

Current Opportunities in the Lab

Please contact Dr. van Donkelaar with inquiries.

Recent publications

  • Wallace, C et al.. 2018. Heading in soccer increases serum neurofilament light protein and SCAT3 symptom metrics.. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000433.
  • Kennefick, M, Wright, AD, Smirl, JD, van Donkelaar, P. 2018. Anticipatory postural adjustments as a function of response complexity in simple reaction time tasks.. Neurosci. Lett. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.06.058.
  • van Donkelaar, P, Dierijck, J, Wright, A, Smirl, J. 2018. A History of Concussion Does Not Lead to an Increase in Ocular Near Point of Convergence.. Int J Sports Med. doi: 10.1055/s-0044-101454.
  • Schmidt, J et al.. 2018. Imaging in Pediatric Concussion: A Systematic Review.. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-3406.
  • Wright, AD et al.. 2018. Sport-Related Concussion Alters Indices of Dynamic Cerebral Autoregulation.. Front Neurol. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00196.
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