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Wright, Galen

Title & Affiliations: Assistant Professor - Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics (nil appointment); Principal Investigator - PrairieNeuro, Kleysen Institute for Advanced Medicine Health Sciences Centre; Research Scientist - University of Manitoba, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba

Degrees: BSc, BSc Hons, PhD

Publication IDs: Google scholar, ORCID

Key research interests: DNA Repair, Neurological Disorders

Currently Hiring: Post-doc, MSc, PhD, Summer student

Brief Bio

Dr. Wright started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba in April 2020 and is currently a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Neurogenomics. He completed his PhD in Genetics at Stellenbosch University, and received additional training in computational biology at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute. 

Dr. Wright then conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. This fellowship led to the identification of highly predictive genetic biomarkers for various adverse drug reactions, including drug-induced neurotoxicities. Further, his precision medicine research has also involved the investigation of genetic variants which modify the age of onset of the neurodegenerative disorder, Huntington disease. This research identified clinically-relevant genetic variants for this trait.

Research Directions

The Wright Lab is broadly interested in identifying genetic factors that contribute to risk for neurological disorders, as well as fundamental biological processes in the brain. To accomplish this, our research group performs bioinformatic analyses on large-scale genomic data. The results of these computational analyses are then used to inform downstream functional validation experiments, including gene editing (e.g., CRISPR/Cas9) and working with human stem cell lines. Insights obtained from this research lead to a better understanding of human biology, the identification of novel therapeutic targets, and improved risk prediction models.

Research Themes

Neurological disorders present a substantial healthcare concern, contributing to an estimated 7% of the total global burden of disease. Efforts to identify novel therapeutics for neurological conditions have met high failure rates in drug development pipelines, mainly due to a lack of efficacy. However, recent studies have shown that incorporating human genetic evidence in drug target selection can improve the success rates of drug trials. Our lab performs computational analysis of genetic risk and genomic modifier studies in neurological disorders, informing functional genomics work. This includes gene editing in human stem cells and single-cell sequencing. Neurological disorders studied in this manner include Huntington disease, CANVAS and Rett syndrome.

Organisms are constantly exposed to endogenous and environmental agents, which cause damage to their DNA. Complex pathways are involved in detecting and repairing these genetic lesions, tens of thousands of which occur daily in individual humans. Therefore, DNA repair in the brain is an essential process for life as it ensures that DNA damage caused by the high-energy consumption in this tissue is repaired correctly. These pathways are involved in modifying neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington disease and fundamental biological processes such as aging. This research program harnesses recent technological and analytical developments and includes the use of unbiased genome-wide screens and deep learning analyses with brain tissue-derived genomic data.


Abdoulaye Diarra, Research Technician

Alana Slike, PhD student (UMGF / CIHR CGS-M)

Kevin Lucy Namuli, Masters student (Research Manitoba)

Paris Musaphir, Masters student (UMGF / CIHR CGS-M)

Job Opportunities

Currently accepting applications from interested summer, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Expertise in either genomics, bioinformatics or functional genomics would be an asset. Please send a short cover letter explaining why you are interested in joining the lab, along with a recent CV and your unofficial transcripts.

Currently Hiring: Post-doc, MSc, PhD, Summer student,


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