Photo of Kim Hellemans

Kim Hellemans

Instructor III, Department Chair

Phone:613-520-2600 x 2973
Office:5302 Health Sciences Building

Eligible to co-supervise at the undergraduate and graduate level. 

Courses taught: NEUR 1201 (Introduction to Mental Health and Disease), NEUR 2200 (Biological Foundations of Behaviour), NEUR 3204 (Drugs and Behaviour) and NEUR 3306 (Neural Basis of Addiction)

Research Interests

Broadly, I have always been interested in vulnerability to mental illness. Why do some people become depressed? Why do others become drug addicts? Or both? My early research looked at the role of adverse early environmental experience on susceptibility to drug addiction, using rodent models of social isolation rearing to explore changes in reward systems.  One of the key predictors of later life mental illness appears to be the experience of stress, e.g., physical and/or sexual abuse, poverty, and/or neglect. Currently, my research explores how early adverse experience in the form of prenatal exposure to alcohol influences later life susceptibility to mental illness, based on the finding that adults and children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) have a significantly elevated rates of mental illnesses compared to the general population.  Specifically, I use a rat model of FASD to explore how prenatal alcohol exposure influences neurobehavioural markers of addiction and depression. My other main research interest is sex differences, based on evidence that the rates of mental illnesses are highly dissociable by sex; for example, depression is twice as common among women compared to men. Research in this area may help explain the high rates of mental illness among FASD populations, and, hopefully, uncover some novel therapeutic strategies.


Neurocircuitry underlying stress and emotional regulation in animals prenatally exposed to alcohol and subjected to chronic mild stress in adulthood. Raineki C, Hellemans KG, Bodnar T, Lavigne KM, Ellis L, Woodward TS, Weinberg J. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2014 Feb 13;5:5. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2014.00005. eCollection 2014.

Neurobiology of chronic mild stress: parallels to major depression. Hill MN, Hellemans KG, Verma P, Gorzalka BB, Weinberg J. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Oct;36(9):2085-117. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.07.001. Epub 2012 Jul 7. Review.

Prenatal alcohol exposure and chronic mild stress differentially alter depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors in male and female offspring. Hellemans KG, Verma P, Yoon E, Yu WK, Young AH, Weinberg J. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Apr;34(4):633-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01132.x. Epub 2010 Jan 26.

Circadian phase and sex effects on depressive/anxiety-like behaviors and HPA axis responses to acute stress. Verma P, Hellemans KG, Choi FY, Yu W, Weinberg J. Physiol Behav. 2010 Mar 3;99(3):276-85. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.11.002. Epub 2009 Nov 27.

Prenatal alcohol exposure: fetal programming and later life vulnerability to stress, depression and anxiety disorders. Hellemans KG, Sliwowska JH, Verma P, Weinberg J. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 May;34(6):791-807. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.06.004. Epub 2009 Jun 21. Review.

Hellemans KG, Sliwowska JH, Verma P, Weinberg J. Prenatal alcohol exposure: Fetal programming and later life vulnerability to stress, depression and anxiety disorders. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2009 Jun 21.

Lan N, Hellemans KG, Ellis L, Viau V, Weinberg J. Role of testosterone in mediating prenatal ethanol effects on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity in male rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009 Apr 30. PMID: 19410376.

Hellemans KG, Verma P, Yoon E, Yu W, Weinberg J. Prenatal alcohol exposure increases vulnerability to stress and anxiety-like disorders in adulthood. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008. PMID: 19076375.

Weinberg J, Sliwowska JH, Lan N, Hellemans KG. Prenatal alcohol exposure: foetal programming, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sex differences in outcome. J Neuroendocrinol. 2008 Apr;20(4):470-88. Epub 2008 Feb 8. Review. PMID: 18266938.

Hellemans, KG, Everitt, B.J., and Lee, J.L.C. (2006) Disrupting reconsolidation of conditioned withdrawal memories in the basolateral amygdala reduces suppression of heroin seeking in rats. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26(49):12694-9.

Hellemans, KG., Dickinson T., and Everitt, B.J. (2006) Motivational control of heroin seeking by conditioned stimuli associated with withdrawal and heroin taking by rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 120(1):103-114.

Olmstead, M.C., Hellemans, KG, and Paine, T.A. (2006).  Alcohol-induced impulsivity: An effect of cue salience? Psychopharmacology, 184(2):221-228.

Robbins, T.W.R., Cardinal, R.N., DiCiano, P., Halligan, P.W., Hellemans, KG., Lee, J.L., & Everitt, B.J. (2005) Neuroscience of Drugs and Addiction. Foresight: Brain Sciences, Addiction & Drugs project (UK Office of Science and Technology,

Hellemans, KG., Nobrega, J.N., and Olmstead, M.C (2005).  Early environmental experience alters baseline and ethanol-induced cognitive impulsivity: Relationship to forebrain 5HT1A receptor binding. Behavioural Brain Research, 159(2):207-20.

Hellemans, KG., Benge, L.C., and Olmstead, M.C. (2004), Adolescent enrichment partially reverses the social isolation syndrome. Developmental Brain Research 150(2):103-15.

Hellemans, KG., Shaham, Y., and Olmstead, M.C. (2002), Dissociable effects of acute and chronic opiate abstinence on drug-seeking and drug-taking.  Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology. 56(4):241-52.

Abbott, F.V. and Hellemans, KG. (2000), Phenacetin, acetaminophen and dipyrone: analgesic and rewarding effects. Behavioural Brain Research 112 (1-2): 177-186.