Catrina Loucks

Assistant Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Pain management
Medical Genetics
Model organism genetics
Drug reactions

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

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.


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

In our work, we strive to make a meaningful impact on maternal and child health by contributing to leading-edge research aimed at improving pain management.

Safe and effective pain management is influenced by individual genetic differences that dictate both how we feel pain and how we respond to specific pain relievers. 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, specific pain relievers.

As part of the multi-disciplinary Canadian Pharmacogenomics Network for Drug Safety (CPNDS) based at the University of British Columbia, candidates 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 pain relievers for women and children based on their unique genetic signatures. Candidates will lead projects within one of two interconnected research themes focused on improving pain management through pharmacogenomics:

  1. Design, conduct, and disseminate findings of genetic association studies aimed at uncovering genetic factors that contribute to differences in pain perception and response to pain relievers
    • 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
  2. Establish a C. elegans platform to discover and validate genetic factors that contribute to differences in pain perception and response to pain relievers
    • Encompassing discovery of novel genetic components of pain/nociception (e.g., influencing noxious mechanosensation) and response to pain relievers (e.g., morphine)
    • Validating roles for novel genetic factors uncovered through clinical genetic association studies (described in the research theme above) in relevant pain and/or medication response pathways

Candidates 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.

Applicants with a background in, and enthusiasm for, C. elegans research, molecular biology, pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics, medical genetics, bioinformatics, data science, clinical pharmacology and/or other related fields are encouraged to reach out to Dr. Catrina Loucks to discuss potential research opportunities.

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