Photo of Hymie Anisman

Hymie Anisman


Degrees:Ph.D. (Waterloo)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2699
Office:5306 Health Sciences Building

Areas of Specialization / Field Affiliations

  • Stress, brain-immune interactions, depression.

Eligible to supervise at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Current research in the Anisman Lab:

  • Examining how certain genetic polymorphisms (e.g., those related to various growth factors, Serotonin, Oxytocin etc.) may interact with early-life and adult stressor experiences to promote depressive disorders.
  • Examining how individuals with certain genetic variants may differentially respond to positive environmental experiences (e.g., social support or having multiple social identities) and how these factors may serve to promote resilience against negative mental health outcomes.
  • Seeing how depressive disorders may, in combination with neuroendocrine, neutrotransmitter, and growth factor variations, be subserved by immune alterations, as well as elevations of cytokine production. In view of the possibility that variations of cytokine levels/production may be related to stressor events (and chronicity) and features associated with depression we have been evaluating the relationship between cytokine production and levels in subtypes of depression, including dysthymia (chronic, low grade depression) and major depression, as well as patients exhibiting typical or atypical features.
  • Various studies that examine how psychosocial stressors are related to neurochemical disturbances and psychological symptomatology among visible minority groups. Including the examination of stressors in a variety of contexts such as the stigma associated with mental illness and obesity, trauma and socialization (e.g., among Somali refugees), the trauma experienced by First Nations people, to name a few.

Area of Research

Stress and pathology

Dr. Anisman’s work has attempted to (a) identify the immune system changes that accompany stressful events, (b) delineate the endocrine and central neurochemical changes exerted by stressors, and (c) determine the conditions under which these effects are optimal. These variations of immune, endocrine and neurochemicals are related to specific behavioral or physical changes that may be associated with pathology.

Brain-Immune interactions

Multidirectional communication occurs between the immune, endocrine, autonomic and central nervous systems. Dr.Anisman has been attempting to identify the mechanisms (e.g., cytokines) by which such communication occurs. In addition, this work has also attempted to identify some of the physical and psychological sequelae of the immune systems effects on endocrine and neurotransmitter activity.

Depression, Stress and Immune activation

This work has focused on the contribution of stressful life events to the induction of depression, and has identified variables that predict whether drug treatments will be effective in the treatment of the disorder. Dr. Anisman and his colleagues also assess the immune changes associated with depression, and determine whether these are altered with successful treatment of the depressive disorder.