Acute Pain Research Program

Research Director: Dr. Joel Katz 

Medical Director: Dr. Hance Clarke 

Team: Dr. Ze'ev Seltzer, Professor of Dentistry, Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, Stephanie Wong, Research Coordinator

The Acute Pain Research Unit (APRU) produces and disseminates cutting-edge research that has influenced the direction of pain research on the international stage. The APRU is a multidisciplinary research unit, with the dual aims of understanding acute pain mechanisms and investigating novel treatments for patients before and after surgery.

Our research focuses on:

  • Factors that predict the transition of acute time-limited post-operative pain to pathological chronic post-surgical pain
  • Genetics of chronic pain after Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) surgery
  • Development of chronic pain in liver donors
  • Relationships between sleep quality and acute post-operative pain


The APRU also serves as a training site for highly qualified trainees, including graduate students, medical students, and high school students who are part of the UHN Co-op Program. This has been made possible, in part, by Dr. Katz's involvement as a collaborator on two Canadian Institute Health Research (CHIR) New Emerging Team Grants and a CIHR Training Grant.

The APRU members actively collaborate with other members of the UHN and Mount Sinai Anesthesia Department, as well as members from other health institutions across the Toronto.\


Ambulatory Anesthesia Research Program

Our research focuses on:

  • Identification of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients in the preoperative clinic
  • Post-operative oxygen desaturation among patients with diagnosed OSA
  • Identification of patients who has a high risk of OSA, by questionnaire
  • Factors affecting recovery and discharge following ambulatory surgery
  • Prevention of post-operative nausea


Laboratory Research Program

The purpose of our program is to identify and address specific gaps in our knowledge of basic integrative physiology that have long retarded progress in patient care. Learn more about our research.


Neuroanesthesia Research Program

  • Alfentanil activation of epileptogenic foci as a potential tool for pre-surgical evaluation of epilepsy patients
  • The effect of new inhalational agents (sevoflurane and desflurane) on motor evoked potentials
  • Patient-controlled remifentanil for awake craniotomy
  • Flo trac to measure stroke volume variation as an indicator of hypovolemia in spine surgical patients
  • Pre-operative education in neurosurgical patients to lessen preoperative anxiety
  • Hippocampal EEG activity during induction of anesthesia. Laboratory research studies examined the role of intracellular calcium in anesthetic actions, and regeneration of spinal cord axons


Pain Research Program

  • Use of ultrasound guidance for interventional pain procedures
  • Use of melatonin in perioperative pain and anxiety in spine surgery
  • Pregabalin for pain following craniotomy and 4) gene expression in patient for VATS


Regional Anesthesia Research Program

  • Ultrasound imaging for peripheral nerve and neuraxial blocks
  • Methods of education and assessment for regional anesthesia skills
  • Optimal analgesic regimens for improving surgical and perioperative outcomes
  • Point-of-care ultrasound applications relevant to regional anesthesiologists and general perioperative care

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