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SRI Profiles

Beverley Orser, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Affiliate scientist

University of Toronto
1 King’s College Circle, Room 3318
Toronto, ON
M4G 2A3

Phone: 416-978-0574
Fax: 416-978-4940


  • MD, Queen’s University, Canada
  • PhD, anesthesia, University of Toronto, Canada

Appointments and Affiliations:

  • Affiliate scientist, Biological Sciences, Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Director of research, department of anesthesia, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Professor, departments of physiology and anesthesia, U of T
  • Chair, department of anesthesia, U of T
  • Canada Research Chair in Anaesthesia, Tier 2

Research Foci:

  • Neuroscience
  • Mechanisms of anesthetic
  • GABAA receptor physiology

Research Summary:

Dr. Orser's scientific research is driven by several fundamental questions: how do general anesthetics work, what are their adverse effects and how can such adverse effects be prevented? Her team is currently studying how anesthetic drugs cause the profound memory loss that is required during surgery and how they contribute to long-term cognitive deficits that occur in patients the postoperative period.

Dr. Orser’s laboratory was the first to demonstrate the unique pharmacological properties of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors and the exquisite sensitivity of these receptors to general anesthetic drugs. These receptors are now being targeted for novel treatments for a variety of neurological disorders including cognitive deficits, chronic pain and depression.

Dr. Orser is a co-founder of the Perioperative Brain Health Centre, which is located at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Her clinical research also focuses on ways to improve medication safety in the operating room. She co-founded the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada, the first Canadian reporting system for medication errors. She also established the patient safety committee for the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society and chaired the Canadian Standards Association subcommittee on the labeling and packaging of drugs.

Her scientific discoveries have been recognized by several awards and prestigious grants, including a 2017 CIHR Foundation Grant, a Canada Research Chair in Anesthesia and the first Frontiers in Anesthesia Award from the International Anesthesia Society. She is the recipient of the 2017 Gold Medal from the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society; the 2017 Peter Dresel Award in Pharmacology from Dalhousie University; a Premier's Research Excellence Award; a Recognition Award from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in the U.S.; and a Career Scientist Award from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Selected Publications:

See current publications list at PubMed.

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