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Brian Cairns, PhD


Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences

University of British Columbia

I am a Professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Canada and at the Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain, Faculty of Medicine, University of Aalborg, Denmark. I served as President of the Canadian Pain Society from 2016-2018, and Principal Applicant on the UBC and CIHR grants supporting development of the BC Pain Research Network. My professional background is in hospital pharmacy, where I practiced for a number of years as a clinical pharmacist. My main research focus is the identification of novel receptor targets for the development of analgesics that would act on tissues locally to inhibit pain. Effective peripherally restricted analgesics could result in fewer centrally mediated side effects such as drowsiness and sedation, which are common with certain pain-relieving drugs. Another research area involves the role biology plays in the increased prevalence of certain chronic craniofacial pain conditions, such as headaches, stomatodynia and temporomandibular disorders, in women. In particular, I am investigating whether biological factors, for example, sex-related differences in the sensitivity of nerve fibers that innervate the affected craniofacial tissues, contribute to the increased prevalence of these pain conditions in women. An understanding of how biological factors contribute to these pain conditions could lead to better pain management for sufferers. More recently, I have become increasingly interested in the role dietary factors play in the exacerbation of certain chronic pain conditions. This research has identified a mechanism whereby the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) could exacerbate muscle pain in persons suffering from temporomandibular disorders.

Research Keywords: Neuropharmacology, Neurophysiology, Craniofacial Pain, Sex-Related Differences

CIHR Pillar(s): 
Biomedical Research

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