William G. Honer

William G. Honer

Professor & Jack Bell Chair in Schizophrenia Research, UBC Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience and Translational Psychiatry

Investigator, BC Children’s Research Institute

Investigator, BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services

Email: bill.honer@ubc.ca

Short Biography

Dr. Honer trained in medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and received his MD in 1984. Following a year of internal medicine training at the Vancouver General Hospital, he was a resident in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University for three years. During the final year of his residency program, and for the next three years, Dr. Honer was a research fellow at Columbia University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he was a member of Dr. Peter Davies’ neuropathology research group.

Dr. Honer moved to Vancouver in 1991, and is now the Jack Bell Chair in Schizophrenia and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. He is Vice-President, Academic and Strategic Development, BC Mental Health and Addictions Services, and is a consultant psychiatrist. Dr. Honer is also an Honorary Professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Hong Kong, and a Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry in Columbia University in New York.

He received a Scientist Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and has received both the Young Investigator Award (1997) and the Heinz Lehmann Award (2008) from the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. Honer is the author of 215 peer-reviewed publications and has authored the assessment section of the Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Schizophrenia.

Dr. Honer’s research interests include mechanism of illness and developing new treatments for schizophrenia, neural plasticity in Alzheimer’s disease, and understanding pathways to co-occurring illnesses including psychosis, addiction and viral infection.

Research Focus

  • Translational research: applying neuroscience techniques to investigate brain disorders.
  • Clinical research: clinical trials and studies of risk factors for disease.
  • Synaptic Proteins and Connectivity in Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • A panel of monoclonal antibodies developed in the lab are used to investigate disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, aging, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Distinct changes in amount, distribution and interactions of these proteins are found in each illness.
  • In vitro systems are being developed to study regulation of the synaptic proteins, and to permit screening for drug effects.
  • Schizophrenia and related psychotic illness
  • The contribution of genetics, development and experience to the onset of schizophrenia is being studied in a large, catchment-area based population.
  • Brain imaging is used to investigate developmental and progressive components of schizophrenia.
  • The results of these projects may guide clinical studies of neurodevelopment in patients with schizophrenia, and help define the relevant aspects to study in animal models. Improving the methods of assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with chronic psychosis provides direct benefit to the patients and their families.
  • Clinical trials aim to define treatment responsive and treatment refractory components of psychotic illnesses.
  • Aging and dementia
  • A large collaborative study is underway to investigate the role of “neural reserve” in brain aging, and the interaction with developing dementia. This study is led by Dr. David Bennett at Rush University in Chicago, and has recruited over 1000 subjects. Brain tissue from over 200 postmortem samples is being studied in my laboratory.
  • Substance abuse
  • A large collaborative study investigated factors predisposing to developing persistent psychosis following use of methamphetamine. New studies will use brain imaging to investigate the basis for cognitive impairment and persistent psychosis in methamphetamine users, in parallel with animal models.
  • A new cohort study will investigate schizophrenia or affective psychosis, and substance induced psychosis in people at high risk for homelessness, living in single room occupancy hotels in Vancouver. The implications for psychosocial function and access to health services will be examined.



Vila-Rodriguez, F., Honer, W. G., Innis, S. M., Wellington, C. L., & Beasley, C. L. (2011). ApoE and cholesterol in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: Comparison of grey and white matter and relation with APOE genotype. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience : JPN, 36(1), 47-55. PMID: 20964956

Torres, I. J., DeFreitas, V. G., DeFreitas, C. M., Kauer-Sant’Anna, M., Bond, D. J., Honer, W. G., Lam, R.W., & Yatham, L. N. (2010). Neurocognitive functioning in patients with bipolar I disorder recently recovered from a first manic episode. TheJournal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71(9), 1234-1242. PMID: 20361907

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) Prenatal tobacco exposure in first-episode psychosis. Schizophrenia Research, 119(1-3), 271 -272. PMID: 20116216

Procyshyn, R. M., Honer, W. G., Wu, T. K., Ko, R. W., McIsaac, S. A., Young, A. H., Johnson, J.L., & Barr, A. M. (2010). Persistent antipsychotic polypharmacy and excessive dosing in the community psychiatric treatment setting: A review of medication profiles in 435 canadian outpatients. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71(5), 566-573. PMID: 20361903

Procyshyn, R. M., Barr, A. M., Flynn, S., Schenk, C., Ganesan, S., & Honer, W. G. (2010). Long-acting injectable risperidone in treatment refractory patients: A 14-week open-label pilot study. Schizophrenia Research, 123(2-3), 273-275. PMID: 20688481

Procyshyn, R. M., Barr, A. M., Brickell, T., & Honer, W. G. (2010). Medication errors in psychiatry: A comprehensive review. CNS Drugs, 24(7), 595-609. PMID: 20356315

Pajonk, F. G., Wobrock, T., Gruber, O., Scherk, H., Berner, D., Kaizl, I., Kierer, A., Müller, S., Oest, M., Meyer, T., Backens, M., Schneider-Axmann, T., Thornton, A.E., Honer, W.G., & Falkai, P. (2010). Hippocampal plasticity in response to exercise in schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(2), 133-143. PMID: 20124113

Hunter, M. J., Hippman, C., Honer, W. G., & Austin, J. C. (2010). Genetic counseling for schizophrenia: A review of referrals to a provincial medical genetics program from 1968 to 2007. American Journal of Medical Genetics.Part A, 152A(1), 147-152. PMID: 20034078

Chen, E. Y., Hui, C. L., Lam, M. M., Chiu, C. P., Law, C. W., Chung, D. W., Tso, S., Pang, E.P., Chan, K.T., Wong, Y.C., Mo, F.Y., Chan, K.P., Yao, T.J., Hung, S.F., & Honer, W. G. (2010). Maintenance treatment with quetiapine versus discontinuation after one year of treatment in patients with remitted first episode psychosis: Randomised controlled trial. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 341, c4024. PMID: 20724402

Boyda, H. N., Tse, L., Procyshyn, R. M., Honer, W. G., & Barr, A. M. (2010). Preclinical models of antipsychotic drug-induced metabolic side effects. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 31(10), 484-497. PMID: 20674990

Significant Accomplishments & Professional Contribution

Dr. Honer received a Scientist Award from CIHR, and has received both the Young Investigator Award (1997) and the Heinz Lehmann Award (2008) from the Canadian College of Neuropsycho-pharmacology.