Peter Soja

About the Principal Investigator


Degree: Faculty Certificate on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Institution: University of British Columbia
Year: 2007
Degree: Postdoctoral, Neuropharmacology
Organization: Brain Research Institute, UCLA School of Medicine
Year: 1984-1986
Degree: Ph.D., Pharmacology
Organization: University of British Columbia
Year: 1983
Degree: M.Sc., Pharmacology
Organization: University of British Columbia
Year: 1980
Degree: B.Sc., Biology
Organization: UMASS-Dartmouth
Year: 1976

Current Position

Position: Professor

Major Awards

Name: BC Health Research Foundation Scholar
Period: 1989-1992
Name: Medical Research Council of Canada Development Grant
Period: 1990-2000


  • RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome) Foundation
  • IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain)

Research Interests

  • Neuropharmacology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Anesthesia
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Sleep, Sleep Disorders
  • Pain, pain - sleep interactions
  • Sensorimotor processing & modulation
  • Spinal cord, brainstem interactions


Current research interests focus on how synaptic transmission through identified ascending spinal sensory pathways and motoneuron pools differs during distinct behavioral states such as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and REM sleep, or general anesthesia vs. wakefulness. Data derived from our studies will help to further elucidate the neural network interactions between sleep, pain, and anesthesia, which traditionally, have been studied as insular, separate fields. Moreover, our studies may provide novel targets for developing novel approaches for treating the cataplexy associated with narcolepsy, the sensory dyesthesias of restless legs syndrome and/or the abnormal motor tone that occurs in REM behavior disorder as well as chronic pain following restricted sleep, and/or recent CNS trauma.

Selected Publications

  • Namjoshi, D.R., Vukicevic, S., Sanoja, R., and Soja, P.J. (2010). Spinal cord targets of relevance to the anesthesiologist. In: "The Neuroscientific Foundations of Anesthesiology", Oxford University Press, Eds. R.Lydic, G. Mashour, (in press).
  • Namjoshi, D.R., McErlane, S.A., Taepavarapruk, N., Soja, P.J. (2009). Network actions of pentobarbital in the mesopontine tegmentum on sensory inflow through the spinothalamic tract. J. Neurophysiol. 102: 700-713.
  • Laverdure-Dupont, Lavigne, G., Montplaisir, J. and Soja, P.J. (2009). Is the manifestation of the Restless Leg Syndrome related to a pain mechanism? In: The Restless Legs Syndrome, Eds. Dr. W. Hening, R. Allen, S. Chokroverty, and C. Earley, Saunders, Elsevier, Philadelphia, pp 206-218.
  • Soja, P.J. (2008). Glycine-mediated postsynaptic inhibition is responsible for REM sleep atonia. Sleep, 31: 1483-1486.
  • Soja, P.J. (2007). Modulation of prethalamic sensory inflow during sleep versus wakefulness, In: Sleep and Pain, International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) book series. Eds., G. Lavigne, M. Choiniere, B. Sessle, P. Soja, pp 45-76.


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