Division of Neurology

John Turnbull


Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine

Andrew Bruce Douglas Chair in Neurology





Education and Professional Standing

Dr. John Turnbull received his Honours B.Sc. in Chemistry from York University, a Masters Degree in Mining and Metallurgical Engineering from Laval University, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Montreal. He received his MD degree from the University of Western Ontario, obtained his fellowship in Internal Medicine from McMaster University, and his fellowship in Neurology from the University of Western Ontario. He undertook two years of post-doctoral training at the University of California (Irvine), at the Centre for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

He is the Andrew Bruce Douglas Chair in Neurology since 2005. He is former Director of the Occupational Medicine Residency Program and former Director of the Neurology Residency Program at McMaster. He was for many years Chair and Assistant Dean, McMaster University, for Continuing Education in the Faculty of Health Sciences, and during this time Chair of the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine Standing Committee on CME and Chair of the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges Standing Committee on CME. He sat on the Academic Advisory Committee of the CPSO and was a founding director of the Foundation for Medical Practice Education. He was on the Steering Committee for the Educating Future Physicians of Ontario (EFPO) project. He was former Examiner and Chief Examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Neurology.

His chief clinical interests are in motor neuron diseases.

Research Interests

Dr. Turnbull's chief research interests at present are in motor neuron diseases. He has an active laboratory investigating models of ALS using transgenic animals and molecular biological approaches, and is involved actively in clinical trials in ALS. Previous research in education has included acting as principal investigator in large scale efficacy trials of collaborative approaches to CME involving all sixteen Canadian medical schools, the neuropsychological assessment of incompetent physicians, and the effect of selective brain stimulation on learning and memory in animals and humans

Selected Publications

  1. Turnbull J. Why is ALS so Difficult to Treat? Can J Neurol Sci. 2014 Mar;41(2):144-55.
  2. Peterson R, Turnbull J. Sonic Hedgehog is Cytoprotective against Oxidative Challenge in a Cellular Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. J MolNeurosci. 2012 May;47(1):31-41.
  3. Ma X, Turnbull P, Peterson R, Turnbull J. Trophic and proliferative effects of Shh on motor neurons in embryonic spinal cord culture from wildtype and G93A SOD1mice. BMC Neurosci. 2013 Oct 11;14:119. pp1-9
  4. Ma X, Peterson R, Turnbull J. Adenylyl cyclase type 3, a marker of primary cilia, is reduced in primary cell culture and in lumbar spinal cord in situ in G93A SOD1 mice. BMC Neurosci. 2011 Jul 18;12:71. pp1-11.
  5. Lougheed R, Turnbull J. Lack of effect of methylene blue in the SOD1 G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e23141. pp1-6
  6. Aggarwal SP, Zinman L, Simpson E, McKinley J, Jackson KE, Pinto H, Kaufman P, Conwit RA, Schoenfeld D, Shefner J, Cudkowicz M; Northeast and CanadianAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis consortia. Safety and efficacy of lithium incombination with riluzole for treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: arandomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. 2010May;9(5):481-8
  7. Molloy DW, Standish TI, Nieboer E, Turnbull J, Smith SD, Dubois S. Effects of acute exposure to aluminum on cognition in humans.  Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health,2007;70(23):2011-9.
  8. Turnbull J, Cunnington J, Unsal A, Norman G, Ferguson B. Cognitive difficulty in dyscompetent physicians: a follow-up study including reassessment. Academic Medicine. 2006;81(10) 915-8.
  9. Jiang F, Li WP, Kwiecien J, Turnbull J. A study of the purine derivative AIT-082 in G93A SOD1 transgenic mice. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology 2006;19(3):489-98.
  10. Turnbull J, Turnbull J, Brown J, Jacob P, Duplessis M, Rivest J. Contextual considerations in summative competency examinations: Relevance to the long case. Academic Medicine 2005;80;1133-1137.
  11. Snow RJ, Turnbull J, da Silva S, Jiang F, Tarnopolsky MA. Creatine supplementation and riluzole treatment provide similar beneficial effects in copper, zinc superoxide dismutase (G93A) transgenic mice. Neuroscience. 2003;119(3):661-7.
  12. Tarnopolsky MA, Bourgeois JM, Snow R, Keys S, Roy BD, Kwiecien JM, Turnbull J. Histological assessment of intermediate- and long-term creatine monohydrate supplementation in mice and rats. Am J PhysiolRegulIntegr Comp Physiol. 2003;285(4):R762-9.
  13. Martin J, Turnbull J. Lasting Impact in families after death from ALS. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Other Motor Neuron Disord 2001;2(4):181-7
  14. Turnbull J, Carbotte R, Hanna E, Norman G, Cunnington J. Cognitive difficulty in physicians with impaired competence. Academic Medicine 2000;75:177-181
  15. Hanna E, Premi J, Turnbull J. Results of remedial CME in dyscompetent physicians. Academic Medicine 2000;75:174-176
  16. J. Turnbull, S. MacLeod, J. Gray, J. Hux, A. Jacques, F. May, N. McCullough, D. Willison for the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges, Ottawa, Canada. Clinical pharmacology and CME in partnership: A trans-Canadian initiative to improve benzodiazepine prescribing. World Conference on Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Florence, July 2000.
  17. Jiang F, DeSilva S, Turnbull J. Beneficial effect of ginseng root in G93A transgenic mice. J Neurological Sci. 2000;180:52-54
  18. Turnbull J, Turnbull J. Institutional impediments to competency assurance in Canada. Forum of the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges. 1999;32:1-10
  19. Turnbull J, Molloy W, Reddy K, Jiang F. Neurostimulation of the medial septal nucleus in Alzheimer's disease. Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences, Edmonton. Can J NeurolSci 1999;26:S45.