Dr. Heika Silveira Villarroel

Research Associate


Heika is originally from Venezuela where she accomplished a Pharmacy BSc, a Pharmacology PhD and worked as a Pharmacology Professor at the Central University of Venezuela. She started her scientific career at the age of 16, working as a pharmacology research assistant; since then, her interest for neuropharmacology has taken her to work in very well know Canadian institutions as McGill University and the University of Alberta where she performed her Post-Doctoral training. Enthusiastic for knowledge, she also has valuable experience performing compound screening and preclinical in vitro safety profiling for highest-ranking drugs in pharmaceutical companies from the USA and the UK. Heika loves neuroscience and has used different techniques such as electrophysiology, rodent behaviour, iPSC neuronal modeling and stem cell technology to study multiple related fields including the purinergic receptors, pain, anxiety, stress resilience and neurodevelopmental disorders. Heika joined the Bowie Lab in January 2020 to help establish a cross-institutional core facility that focuses on the electrophysiological analysis of human induced pluripotent stem cells to study autism, intellectual disabilities and neurodevelopmental disorders.


Michaelson S.D, Miranda Tapia A. P., McKinty A., Silveira Villarroel H., Mackay J. P., Urban J. H., Colmers W. F. Contribution of NPY Y5 Receptors to the Reversible Structural Remodeling of Basolateral Amygdala Dendrites in Male Rats Associated with NPY-mediated Stress Resilience. BioRxiv Nov 7 2019, 2019; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/777979.

Bell S, Rousseau J, Peng H, Aouabed Z, Priam P, Theroux JF, Jefri M, Tanti A, Wu H, Kolobova I, Silveira H, Manzano-Vargas K, Ehresmann S, Hamdan FF, Hettige N, Zhang X, Antonyan L, Nassif C, Ghaloul-Gonzalez L, Sebastian J, Vockley J, Begtrup AG, Wentzensen IM, Crunk A, Nicholls RD, Herman KC, Deignan JL, Al-Hertani W, Efthymiou S, Salpietro V, Miyake N, Makita Y, Matsumoto N, Østern R, Houge G, Hafström M, Fassi E, Houlden H, Klein Wassink-Ruiter JS, Nelson D, Goldstein A, Dabir T, van Gils J, Bourgeron T, Delorme R, Cooper GM, Martinez JE, Finnila CR, Carmant L, Lortie A, Oegema R, van Gassen K, Mehta SG, Huhle D, Abou Jamra R, Martin S, Brunner HG, Lindhout D, Au M, Graham JM Jr, Coubes C, Turecki G, Gravel S, Mechawar N, Rossignol E, Michaud JL, Lessard J, Ernst C, Campeau PM. Mutations in ACTL6B cause epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders and lead to deficits in dendrites in human neurons. Am J Hum Genet, May 2019.

Bell, S., Hettige, N. C., Silveira, H., Peng, H., Wu, H., Jefri, M., Antonyan, L., Zhang, Y., Zhang, X. and Ernst, C. (2019). Differentiation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) into an Effective Model of Forebrain Neural Progenitor Cells and Mature Neurons. Bio-protocol, 2019; 9(5): e3188. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.3188.

Bell S, Maussion G, Jefri M, Peng H, Theroux JF, Silveira H, Soubannier V, Wu H, Hu P, Galat E, Torres-Platas SG, Boudreau-Pinsonneault C, O'Leary LA, Galat V, Turecki G, Durcan TM, Fon EA, Mechawar N, Ernst C. Disruption of GRIN2B Impairs Differentiation in Human Neurons. Stem Cell Reports, 2018 Jul 10;11(1):183-196 (Cover).

Silveira Villarroel, H., Bompolaki, M., Mackay, J. P., Miranda Tapia, A. P., Michaelson, S. D., Leitermann, R. J., Marr, R. A., Urban, J. H., Colmers, W. F. (2018). NPY Induces Stress Resilience via Downregulation of Ih in Principal Neurons of Rat Basolateral Amygdala. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2018 May 9;38(19):4505-4520.

William F. Colmers, Heika Silveira, Sheldon Michaelson, James Mackay, Ana P. Miranda, Maria Bompolaki, Regina DeJoseph, Annette G. Beck-Sickinger, Janice H. Urban. Chillin' with NPY. Neuropeptides, 2016; 55: 3.

Giesbrecht, C. J., Mackay, J. P., Silveira, H. B., Urban, J. H., & Colmers, W. F. Countervailing modulation of Ih by neuropeptide Y and corticotrophin-releasing factor in basolateral amygdala as a possible mechanism for their effects on stress-related behaviors. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2010;30(50), 16970-82.

Castejón A.M., Hoffmann I.S., Cubeddu R.J., Silveira H., Cubeddu L.X. Insulinotropic effect of l-arginine and glucose in control subjects and in hypertensive, obese, hiperinsulinemic patients. American Journal of Hypertension,2000;13: 97A-97A.