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Donna Lang

Primary Area of Research
Brain, Behaviour & Development
Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Phone: 604-875-2000 ext. 4727
Mailing Address:
Centre for Complex Disorders
Rm A3-124
938 West 28th Avenue 
Vancouver, V5Z 1H4

Research Areas
  • Methamphetamine

  • Psychotic disorders 

  • Schizophrenia

  • Brain imaging

  • Brain morphology 

  • Cognition

  • Dual diagnosis

  • Evaluation research

  • Medication effects

  • Neuropsychiatry/ Neuropsychology

  • Exercise & Brain

About Dr. Lang

In 1995, as a new graduate student in the department of psychiatry, I began investigating the morphological phenomena of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. These initial in-vivo investigations involved the application of CT (Computed Tomography) imaging to examine phenotypic characteristics of brain morphology in families affected by schizophrenia. Since that time, my research has moved forward into multi-modal applications of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to investigate the effects of antipsychotic medications on brain structure in schizophrenia, the relationships between structure, symptoms and cognition in psychotic disorders and first-episode psychosis, and more recently, the interactions between substance abuse, psychosis and systemic infections on brain morphology.

Currently, all my neuroimaging research data are obtained at UBC on the high-field research scanner, which produces exceptionally high quality scans and gives researchers the capability to examine physiological, biochemical and physical markers in the brain. This has allowed me, along with the residents and graduate students I work with, to examine the neurocircuitry and metabolic characteristics of psychotic disorders using diffusion tensor imaging and susceptibility-weighted imaging. My current projects involve the investigation of the effects of exercise on hipppocampal volume and vascularization in chronic schizophrenia patients and in adolescent psychosis patients. Additionally, I am involved in a large longitudinal imaging study of multi-diagnosis addiction, psychosis and infection subjects over the course of 5-8 years.  Some of the goals of this study include investigating the interactions of life circumstances, addiction, mental illness and physical illnesses in an urban population, and how these interactions have affected quality of life, health care access, persistence of mental disorder/addictions and neurobiological integrity.

Selected Publications

Relationship between body mass index and hippocampal glutamate/glutamine in bipolar disorder. Bond DJ, da Silveira LE, MacMillan E, Torres I, Lang DJ, Su W, Honer WG, Lam R, and Yatham LN 2015.  Brit. J. Psychiat (In Press)

Hippocampal subfield volumes in first-episode and chronic schizophrenia. Kawano M, Sawada K, Shimodera S, Ogawa Y, Kariya S, Lang DJ, Inoue S, and Honer WG. Feb 6,  2015.  PLoS One- DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117785. PMID: 25658118

Cortical morphology and early adverse events in first-episode psychosis. Smith GN, Thornton AE, Lang DJ, MacEwan GW, Kopala LC, Su W, and Honer WG.  Psychol Med. Accepted Nov 18, 2014. PMID: 25499574

Neurocognitive profiles of marginally housed persons with co-morbid substance dependence, viral infection and psychiatric illness. Gicas K, Vila-Rodriguez F, Paquet K, Barr AM, Procyshyn R, Lang DJ, Smith GN, Baitz H, Giesbrecht C, Montaner J, Krajden M, MacEwan GW, Panenka W, Honer WG, and Thornton AE. (Sept) 2014.  J of Clin & Exptl Neuropsych, 36(10): 1009-1022. PMID: 25380059

Body mass index-related regional grey and white matter volume reduction in first-episode mania patients. Bond DJ, Ha TH, Lang DJ, Su W, Torres IJ, Honer WG, Lam RW and Yatham LY. Biological Psychiatry, Vol 76(2): 138-145. 2013.PMID: 24120119

Profiles of individuals seeking psychiatric help for psychotic symptoms linked to methamphetamine abuse - Baseline results from MAPS (Methamphetamine and Psychosis Study). Lecomte, T., Mueser, K.T., MacEwan, G.W., Laferriere-Simard, M.C., Thornton, A.E., Buchanan, T., Goldner, E., Brink, J., Ehmann, T.S., Lang, D.J., Kang, S., Barr, A.M., & Honer, W.G. (2010).  Ment. Health & Subst Use, 3(3), 168-181. PMID:

Prenatal tobacco exposure in first-episode psychosis. Smith, G.N., MacEwan, G.W., Kopala, Lang, D.J., Barr, A.M., Honer, W.G., Ehmann, T.S., Good, K., Thornton, A.E., & Neilson, H. (2010) Schizophrenia Research, 119(1-3), 271–272. PMID: 20116216

 Localization of Subthalamic Nucleus: Optimization with susceptibility-weighted phase MR Imaging. Vertinsky, A.T., Coenen, V.A., Lang, D.J., Kolind, S., Honey, C.R., Li, D. & Rauscher, A. (2009). AJNR. 30, 1717-1724. PMID: 19509077

A family-based association study of the myelin-associated glycoprotien and 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase genes with schizophrenia. Voineskos A.N., de Luca, V., Bulgin, N., van Adrichem, Q., Shaikh, S., Lang, D.J., Honer, W.G., & Kennedy, J.L. 2008. Psychiatric Genetics, 18(3), 143- 146. PMID: 18496213

 MAG gene variation and cortical gray matter volume in first episode schizophrenia. Voineskos, A.N., Lang, D.J., Zai, G., Bulgin, N., Shaikh, S., Su, W., Kopala, L.C., MacEwan, G.W., Thornton, A.E., Smith, G.N., Austin, J.C., Honer, W.G., & Kennedy, J.L. (2008). Brain Imaging & Behavior. Vol. 2(2): 117- 122.

A longitudinal study on the effects of typical versus atypical antipsychotic drugs on hippocampal volume in schizophrenia. Panenka, W. J., Khorram, B., Barr, A. M., Smith, G. N., Lang, D. J., Kopala, L. C., Vandorpe, R.A., & Honer, W. G. (2007). Schizophrenia Research, 94(1-3), 288-292. PMID: 17570643

Reduced anterior internal capsule and thalamic volumes in first-episode psychosis. Lang, D.J., Khorram, B., Goghari, V.M., Kopala, L.C., Vandorpe, R.A., Rui, Q., Smith, G.N. & Honer, W.G. (2006). Schiz. Res. Vol. 87:89-99. PMID: 16793239

The need for speed: an update on methamphetamine addiction. Barr, A.M., Panenka, W.J., MacEwan, G.W., Thornton, A.E., Lang, D.J., Honer, W.G., & Lecomte, T. (2006).  Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience : JPN, 31(5), 301-31. PMID: 16951733

Reduced thalamic volume in chronic schizophrenia patients after switching from typical antipsychotic medications to olanzapine. Khorram, B., Lang, D.J., Kopala, L.C., Vandorpe, R.A., Rui, Q., Smith, G.N., Goghari, V.M., Lapointe, J.S. & Honer, W.G. (2006).  Amer. J. Psychiat. Vol. 163 (11): 2005-2007. PMID: 17074955

Reduced anterior internal capsule and thalamic volumes in first-episode psychosis. Lang DJ, Khorram B, Goghari VM, Kopala LC, Vandorpe RA, Rui Q, Smith GN and Honer WG.  Schizophrenia Research. June 2006.  Impact Factor 5.1. Vol. 87:89-99.PMID: 16793239

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