Brian Cairns

About the Principal Investigator

Phone: 604-822-7715


Degree: B.Sc. in Biochemistry & Chemistry
Institution: University of British Columbia
Degree: B.Sc. in Pharmacy
Institution: University of British Columbia
Degree: ACPR, Hospital Pharmacy Residency
Institution: VGH
Degree: PhD in Neurophysiology
Institution: University of British Columbia
Degree: Faculty Certificate on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Institution: University of British Columbia

Previous Positions

Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Dentistry
Institution: University of Toronto
Position: Instructor, Department of Anesthesiology
Institution: Harvard Medical School
Position: Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Institution: University of British Columbia
Position: Associate Professor, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Institution: University of British Columbia

Current Position

Position: Professor & Canada Research Chair in Neuropharmacology



About The Lab

The laboratory investigates basic mechanisms that underlie the development and maintenance of craniofacial pain, in particular pain associated with temporomandibular disorders. A major focus of the research is to identify receptors in deep craniofacial tissues, such as the teeth, temporomandibular (jaw) joint and masticatory muscles, that may provide novel targets for the development of analgesics to treat this pain. Many pain disorders that affect the craniofacial region occur much more commonly in women than in men. A second major focus of the laboratory is to investigate biological mechanisms that may contribute to sex-related differences in craniofacial pain conditions.

Selected Publications

  • Peripheral Receptor Targets for Analgesia: Novel Approaches to Pain Management Cairns BE, ed. John Wiley and Sons Inc.: Hoboken, NJ, 2009, 573 pages.
  • Dong X-D, Svensson P, Cairns BE. The analgesic action of topical diclofenac
    may be mediated through peripheral NMDA receptor antagonism. Pain
  • Cairns BE, Gazerani P. Sex-related differences in pain. Maturitis 2009;63(4):292-296.
  • Hakim AW, Dong X-D, Svensson P, Kumar U, Cairns BE. TNFalpha Mechanically Sensitizes Masseter Muscle Afferent Fibers of Male Rats. J Neurophysiol 2009 102:1551-1559.
  • Baad-Hansen l, Cairns BE, Ernberg M, Svensson P. Effect of systemic
    monosodium glutamate (MSG) on headache and pericranial muscle sensitivity.
    Cephalalgia 2010;30:68-76.
  • Svensson P, Castrillon EE, Cairns BE. Nerve growth factor-evoked masseter muscle sensitization and perturbation of jaw motor function in healthy women. J Orofac Pain 2008;22:340-348.
  • Castrillon EE, Cairns BE, Ernberg M, Wang W, Sessle BJ, Arendt-Nielsen L, Svensson P. Effect of peripheral NMDA receptor blockade with ketamine on chronic myofascial TMD pain. J Orofac Pain 2008;22:122-130.
  • Castrillon EE, Cairns BE, Ernberg M, Wang W, Sessle BJ, Arendt-Nielsen L, Svensson P. Glutamate-evoked jaw muscle pain as a model of persistent myofascial TMD pain? Arch Oral Biol 2008;53:666-676.
  • Cairns BE, Mann MK, Mok E, Dong XD, Svensson P. Diclofenac exerts local anesthetic-like actions on rat masseter muscle afferent fibers. Brain Res 2008;1194: 56–64.
  • Sung D, Dong XD, Ernberg M, Kumar U, Cairns BE. Serotonin (5-HT) excites rat masticatory muscle afferent fibers through activation of peripheral 5-HT3 receptors. Pain 2008;134:41-50.
  • Cairns BE. The influence of gender and sex steroids on craniofacial nociception. Headache. 2007;47:319-324.
  • Dong XD, Mann MK, Kumar U, Svensson P, Arendt-Nielsen L, Hu JW, Sessle BJ, Cairns BE. Sex-related differences in glutamate evoked rat muscle nociceptor discharge result from estrogen-mediated modulation of peripheral NMDA receptors. Neuroscience 2007; 146(2):822-832.
  • Cairns BE, Dong XD, Mann MK, Svensson P, Sessle BJ, Arendt-Nielsen L, McErlane KM. Systemic administration of monosodium glutamate elevates intramuscular glutamate levels and sensitizes rat masseter muscle afferent fibers. Pain 2007; 132(1-2):33-41.
  • Mann MK, Dong XD, Svensson P, Cairns BE. Influence of intramuscular nerve growth factor injection on the response properties of rat masseter muscle afferent fibers. J Orofacial Pain 2006; 20: 325-336.
  • Gazerani P, Wang K, Cairns BE, Svensson P, Arendt-Nielsen L. Subcutaneous glutamate-evoked pain, sensitization and vasomotor responses in human skin. Pain 2006; 124: 338-348.
  • Cairns BE, Svensson P, Wang K, Castrillon E, Hupfeld S, Sessle B, Arendt-Nielsen L. Ketamine attenuates glutamate-induced mechanical sensitization of the masseter muscle in men. Exp Brain Res. 2006; 169(4):467-472.
  • Gambarota G, Philippens M, Cairns BE, Dong XD, Renema WK, Heerschap A. MRS assessment of glutamate clearance in a novel masticatory muscle pain model. NMR Biomed. 2005;18:345–351.
  • Lam DK, Sessle BJ, Cairns BE, Hu JW. Neural mechanisms of temporomandibular joint and masticatory muscle pain: A possible role for peripheral glutamate receptor mechanisms. Pain Res Manag 2005; 10:145-152.


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