Heather Hain

Ph.D. Graduate (1999)

Undergraduate Degree

B.A. (Psychology and Biology, 1994), Coe College

Training at OHSU


Second Year Project

(1997): The role of serotonin-1B (5-HT1B) receptors in morphine analgesia (Mentor: John Belknap, Ph.D.) 


(2000): PhD Thesis OHSU Quantitative trait loci analysis of baseline nociceptive sensitivity and morphine-induced antinociception in the writhing assay (Mentor: John Belknap, Ph.D.) 

Previous Positions

  • Senior Scientist, Xenogen Biosciences (now Caliper LifeSciences)
  • Director of Scientific Operations, Melior Discovery

Current position

Director, Behavioral Pharmacology, at PsychoGenics



Background & Interests

In the summer before my junior of college, I took a class called 'Brain, Drugs and Behavior'. It was a fascinating class, and I soon decided to pursue this interest. With a background in molecular biology and psychology, I was wondering how to tie everything together. OHSU's graduate program, which included behavior genetics and an emphasis on alcohol research, seemed the ideal place to go. I also liked the idea of first-year lab rotations as I didn't have a research focus. In the Behavioral Neuroscience department I was able to try everything from electron microscopy to whole animal behavior. I felt fortunate to be in a group with such a collaborative and supportive spirit.

Originally I had planned on researching genetic aspects of alcohol behaviors. Instead, I became interested in the genetic affects on pain and analgesia in John Belknap's lab, and this was my research focus throughout my graduate years. For my second-year project, I examined the role of the serotonin-1B receptors on morphine analgesia through pharmacology and inbred strains. My dissertation project was quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping of pain and morphine using a chemical pain assay. One goal of my project was to compare these results to a previous QTL mapping of a thermal pain assay, as different types of pain appear to be affected by different genes.

A highlight of my graduate years was when I received the University Club Foundation fellowship award for leadership in academia and community service. Besides my graduate research work, I was involved with several groups at OHSU including education programs for youth and Student Research Forum committee. These activities gave me the opportunity to connect to the community. I feel it is important for scientists to get involved with other projects, both for balance in their lives and to communicate with people outside of science.

For my post-doctoral fellowship, I decided to venture out of the academic world and see what the pharmaceutical industry was like. My fellowship is at Pfizer, formerly known as Parke-Davis; a takeover was an unexpected learning experience of my post-doc! I have used my experience and knowledge of mice and genetics to help develop mouse behavioral models for drug screening purposes. The first year I developed an operant task to rapidly assess learning and memory in mice, and this year I am developing a mouse anxiety test. I have also learned much about how the pharmaceutical industry works and how drugs are developed. I am currently looking for positions in a pharmaceutical company or biotech company. And keeping involved in the Ann Arbor/Pfizer communities in my 'spare' time.

My advice to young scientists is to keep an open mind about where you want your career to lead you. There are many opportunities outside the world of academia in which you can succeed. Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes; that is part of what science is about, figuring out how things work. 


Tung, D., Cheung, P.H., Kaur, P., Foreman, O., Kavirayani, A., Hain, H.S., Saha, S. (2011) Anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of bortezomib in various in vivo models. Pharmacol. 88(1-2):100-13.

Nair, N.K., Hain, H., Quock, R.M., Philip, V.M., Chesler, E.J., Belknap, J.K., Lariviere, W.R. (2011) Genomic loci and candidate genes underlying inflammatory nocieption. Pain. 152(3):599-606.

Hayward, M.D., Jones, B.K., Saparov, A., Hain, H.S., Trillat, A.C., Bunzel, M.M., Corona, A., Li-Wang, B., Strenkowski, B., Giordano, B., Shen, H., Arcamone, E., Weidlick, J., Vilensky, M., Tugusheva, M., Felkner, R.H., Campbell, W., Rao, Y., Grass, D.S., Buiakova, O. (2007) An extensive phenotypic characterization of the hTNFalpha transgenic mice. BMC Physiol. 10;7:13.

Wilson, S.G., Chesler, E.J., Hain, H., Rankin, A.J., Schwarz, J.Z., Call, S.B., Murray, M.R., West, E.E., Teuscher, C., Rodriguez-Zas, S., Belknap, J.K., and Mogil, J.S. (2002) Identification of quantitative trait loci for chemical/inflammatory nociception in mice. Pain, 96(3):385-391.