Liam Brunham

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Lipids
Genetics
Pharmacogenomics
Cardiovascular diseases

Relevant Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.
 
 

Research Methodology

Next generation sequencing
Genome editing
Induced pluripotent stem cells
Genome wide association studies
clinical trials

Recruitment

Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

1. SAVE BC (www.savebc.ca) is a provincial study of families with extremely premature cardiovascular disease, aimed at identifying molecular causes of this condition and reducing the burden of premature cardiovascular disease. 2. Pharmacogenomics of adverse drug reactions. We are using human stem cells to study the pharmacogenetic mechanisms of specific adverse drug reactions. This work will lead to new approaches to identify patients at risk of suffering from adverse drug reactions, and the development of safer, more effective medications. 3. Inherited dyslipidemias. We have one of the largest and most established registries in Canada of patients with Familial Hypercholesterolemia, a common cause of premature CVD which is under-recognized and under-treated. We are investigating the use of genetic testing to improve the diagnosis of patients with this condition, and understand the determinants of cardiovascular disease risk in these patients.

I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).
I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.

Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!

Check requirements
  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
  • Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
Focus your search
  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
Make a good impression
  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
Attend an information session

G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Modelling adverse drug reactions using induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) (2021)

Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) constitute the fourth leading cause of death and their incidence is steadily increasing. Cardiovascular toxicity is one of the most common and serious ADR and is the leading cause of drug discontinuation. The overarching goal of this thesis is to investigate cardiac ADRs using human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs). Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug administered to adult and pediatric patients for the treatment of hematological and solid tumors, however, it can cause doxorubicin induced cardiotoxicity (DIC). We generated induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) from patients who received doxorubicin as part of their chemotherapy regimen. iPSC-CMs from individuals who developed DIC displayed significantly greater sensitivity to doxorubicin compared to iPSC-CMs from patients who did not experience DIC. Several variants associated with DIC have been identified, with RARG –S427L having the strongest genetic evidence. iPSC-CMs together with genome editing, provide a powerful platform to establish causal relationships between genetic variants and ADRs. We used CRISPR/Cas9 to investigate the functional impact of RARG-S427L on DIC in isogenic patient derived iPSC-CMs that differed only at the RARG locus. Genetic correction of RARG-S427L decreased susceptibility to in vitro DIC, whereas introduction of RARG-S427L had the opposite effect. We also used this platform to identify novel cardioprotectants that can be used clinically to prevent DIC. Empagliflozin, a sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitor, is an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of diabetes that shows cardiovascular benefits. iPSC-CMs treated with empagliflozin exhibited reduced doxorubicin induced cell death. Finally, we showed that enriched cardiomyocyte subtype populations are necessary for accurate drug screening and disease modelling. Ibrutinib is an anticancer drug indicated for the treatment of B cell malignancies; however, it can cause atrial fibrillation. We used atrial and ventricular hPSC-CMs to study ibrutinib induced atrial fibrillation. Ibrutinib had an arrhythmogenic impact on hPSC atrial derived cardiomyocytes, while ventricular hPSC remained unaffected. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that hPSC-CMs represent a powerful platform for disease modelling and drug screening that is amenable to personalized risk prediction for the prevention of adverse drug reactions.

View record

Publications

Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.
 
 

If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.

 
 

Get key application advice, hear about the latest research opportunities and keep up with the latest news from UBC's graduate programs.