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Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Pharmacogenomics Pain Management

Please refer to reference number PDFO-55235 when applying for this position.


Department of Pediatrics and Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

We are looking for a postdoctoral fellow who will strive to make a meaningful impact on maternal and child health by contributing to leading-edge research aimed at improving pain management.

Pain management is often under-emphasized, yet inadequate pain relief can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for her child, and can disrupt sleep, impact behaviour and cause vomiting in children. In light of the current opioid crisis, there is increased urgency to balance both safety and effectiveness of opioid-based analgesics, while simultaneously limiting the use of opioids. Given the resulting hesitancy associated with prescribing opioids, we are likely undertreating pain in women and children.

Safe and effective pain management is influenced by individual genetic differences that dictate both how we feel pain and how we respond to specific analgesics. Using pharmacogenomics, the study of how genetic variability contributes to individual drug responses, we are identifying genetic factors that can help predict an individual’s need for, and subsequent response to, opioid and non-opioid analgesics.

As part of the multi-disciplinary Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network for Drug Safety (CPNDS) based at the University of British Columbia, the candidate will work closely with clinicians, scientists and patients across Canada to develop a pipeline from genetic discoveries to predictive genetic testing to help select the safest and most effective analgesics for women and children based on their unique genetic signatures.

  • The candidate will lead projects focused on improving pain management through pharmacogenomics, where the candidate will work toward the following goal:
  • Design, conduct, and disseminate findings of genetic association studies aimed at uncovering genetic factors that lead to variability in pain perception and response to opioid and non-opioid analgesics
  • Focused on predicting variability in morphine-based pain relief for children and occurrence of painful toxicities resulting from childhood cancer treatment (e.g., methotrexate-induced mucositis)
  • Opportunities to explore other pain management questions stemming from collaborative pursuits and develop clinical practice guidelines to enable clinical implementation of genetic testing

The candidate will conduct research at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute where they will have access to state-of-the-art molecular biology, genotyping, sequencing and analysis platforms housed within CPNDS-developed laboratories for drug safety research and implementation.

The candidate will report directly to Dr. Catrina Loucks, a geneticist experienced in conducting pharmacogenomic studies. The candidate will also benefit from close collaborations with CPNDS-trained clinicians at 32 Canadian centres to support patient recruitment, highly experienced lab managers/technicians, Dr. Bruce Carleton (clinical pharmacologist), Dr. Colin Ross (geneticist) and Dr. Shahrad (Rod) Rassekh (pediatric oncologist), who together have extensive expertise/success in drug safety and effectiveness research spanning genetic discoveries, validation of findings using a variety of model systems and incorporation of predictive genetic testing into clinical care.

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. The period of funding is 2 years; however, an extended appointment of at least 3 years is preferred given the complexity of the work involved. An extended appointment is dependent on the ability to successfully secure additional grant/trainee funding, where the CPNDS and CPNDS-trained postdoctoral fellows have been extremely successful in the past.

UBC hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity. All qualified persons are encouraged to apply. UBC is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, personal of any sexual orientation or gender identity, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. However, Canadian and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.

Applicants with a background in, and enthusiasm for, pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics, medical genetics, genomics/bioinformatics, data science, clinical pharmacology or other related fields are encouraged to apply. If interested, please submit a cover letter detailing research interests, curriculum vitae, writing sample and three references to: Dr. Catrina Loucks, MSc, PhD | Assistant Professor | email: with “Postdoc Position – PGx Pain Management” listed in the subject line.

This offer is conditional upon successful completion of a Criminal Record Check.

How to apply?

Please send applications to and refer to reference number PDFO-55235.

Desired start date: 01 Aug 2021
Duration: Fixed term / Temporary
Contract Type: Full Time