• Lavoie, Pascal

    Clinician Scientist, CFRI

    Associate Professor, Partner Institute, Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia

    Neonatologist, BC Children's Hospital and BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre
    Degrees / Designations
    Primary Area of Research
    Immunity in Health & Disease
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    Lab Phone
    604-875-2345 ext. 6705
    Mihoko Ladd
    Assistant Phone
    Lab: 6705; Pager 41-01750 (first, dial 604 875-4200 from an external line)
    Mailing Address
    Child & Family Research Institute
    Room A4-147, 950 West 28th Avenue
    Vancouver, BC V5Z 4H4
    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Neonatal Immunity
    • Infection/Inflammation
    • Inheritance/Genetics of Neonatal Morbidities
    • Neonatal Chronic Lung Disease

    As a neonatologist, I regularly care for small, prematurely born infants needing intensive medical care early in life. Premature babies are particularly vulnerable to infections, but also to a number of “inflammatory” complications which can damage vital organs, such as the lungs. However, not all preterm babies become ill and the reasons why only some do while others do not are not entirely understood.

    In my research team, we use a combination of translational research approaches (population-based clinical studies/epidemiology and traditional molecular biology) focusing on understanding how the delicate immune system is successful in protecting some healthy preterm infants compared to other premature babies who become sick from infections or other diseases.

    Current Projects
    Innate immune defences in neonates born early in gestation
    In these studies, we aim to define characteristics of innate immune system responsible for the excessively high risk of infection in preterm infants, particularly focusing on Toll-like receptor-mediated cytokine responses. Toll-like receptors are family of molecules playing a critical role in first-line innate immune defences, particularly in neonates. We employ molecular and human cell-based immunology approaches to help understand why the preterm immune system sometimes fails to protect against infection and how we may enhance its function in order to prevent disease in preterm infants. We also study cohorts of infants born early in gestation to understand how immune homeostasis plays a role in preterm infants’ disease.

    Neonatal Adaptive T cell Immunity
    T lymphocytes play a central role in adaptive immune defenses by “orchestrating” the activity of other cells such as the antibody-producing B lymphocytes, or by killing virally-infected cells directly. Natural Killer T (NKT) cells are of main interest because of their role in regulating excessive inflammatory responses from other first line immune cells. Our efforts in this area are focused on understanding how NKT and classical T cells emerge in neonates, with particular emphasis on the regulation of T cell differentiation and maintenance of this specialized immunological compartment.

    Heritability of bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a form of chronic inflammatory-mediated lung disease affecting thousands of infants born prematurely each year in Canada. BPD is a serious disease which often results in significant morbidity and mortality. Clinicians lack a cure for BPD and current treatments can have serious side-effects. Our own evidence suggests that susceptibility to this condition is in large part genetically inherited. In this study, we collaborate with other neonatal centres internationally to examine the role of common gene polymorphisms in clinically well-characterized cohorts of preterm infants, in order to understand how genetic factors interact in the regulation of inflammation and how they predispose infants to BPD.
    Selected Publications
    Innate immune defences and infections in neonates born early in gestation
    Chang BA, Quan J, Huang Q, Chau V, Ladd M, Kwan E, McFadden DE, Lacaze-Masmonteil T, Miller SP, Lavoie PM (2011). Early inflammation in the absence of overt infection in preterm neonates exposed to intensive care. Cytokine; 56(3):621-6. PMID: 21940177

    Lavoie PM, Huang Q, Jolette E, Ladd M, Nuyt AM, Audibert F, Speert DP, Lacaze-Masmonteil T, Soudeyns H, Kollmann TR (2010). Profound lack of IL-12/23p40 in neonates born early in gestation influencing the risk of early-onset sepsis. J Infect Dis; 202(11):1754-63. PMID: 20977341

    Corbett NP, Blimkie D, Ho KC, Cai B, Sutherland DP, Kallos A, Crabtree J, Rein-Weston A, Lavoie PM, Turvey S, Hawkins NR, Self SG, Wilson CB, Hajjar AM, Fortuno ES, Kollmann TR (2010). Ontogeny of Toll-Like Receptor mediated cytokine responses of human blood mononuclear cells. PloS One; 5(11):e15041. PMID: 21152080

    Lavoie PM, Lavoie JC, Watson C, Rouleau T, Chang BA, Chessex P (2010). Inflammatory response in preterm infants is induced early in life by oxygen and modulated by total parenteral nutrition. Pediatr Res; 68(3):248-51. PMID: 20703144

    Abu-Sharar Z, Robinson A, Lavoie PM (2010). Incidence of septicemia immediately following elective gastrointestinal contrast procedures in infants: A cohort study. J Pediatr Surg; 45(3):507-12. PMID: 20223312

    Lavoie PM (2009). Earlier initiation of enteral nutrition is associated with lower risk of late-onset bacteremia only in most mature very low birth weight infants. J Perinatol; 29(6):448-54. PMID: 19212326

    Neonatal Natural Killer T cell development
    Sharma A, Chew L, Ladd M, Jen R, Lavoie PM (2011). Ex vivo purification and characterization of human invariant natural killer T cells. J Immunol Methods; 373(1-2):1-7. PMID: 21854781

    Ladd M, Sharma A, Huang Q, Wang AY, Xu L, Genowati I, Levings MK, Lavoie PM (2010). Natural Killer T cells constitutively expressing the IL-2 receptor alpha chain early in life are primed to respond to lower antigenic stimulation. Immunology; 131(2):289-99. PMID: 20545784

    Heritability of bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    Lavoie PM, Ladd M, Hirschfeld AF, Huusko J, Mahlman M, Speert DP, Hallman M, Lacaze-Masmonteil T, Turvey SE (2012). Influence of common non-synonymous Toll-like receptor 4 polymorphisms on bronchopulmonary dysplasia and prematurity in human infants. PloS One; 7(2): e31351. PMID: 22348075

    Lavoie PM, Dubé MP (2010). Genetics of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in the age of genomics. Curr Opin Pediatr; 22(2):134-8. PMID: 20087186

    Lavoie PM, Brant R (2009). Twin zygosity studies and the genetic basis of neonatal morbidities – author’s reply. Pediatrics; 123(2):e352-3. PMID: 19171586

    Lavoie PM, Pham C, Jang KL (2008). Heritability of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, defined according to the consensus statement of the National Institute of Health. Pediatrics; 122(3):479-85. Related commentary by Abman S et al. Pediatrics; 122(3):658-9. PMID: 18762515

    Other publications can be found on PubMed.


    CIHR Operating Grant – Project: "Maternal Omega-3 supplementation to reduce Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in very Preterm Infants : A Randomized Controlled Trial (MOBYDIck Trial)" (2014-2019)

    CIHR Operating Grant – Project: "Understanding the immunological basis for early-life infections in preterm infants" (2012-2017)

    Honours & Awards
    Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research – Career Investigator Award – 2011-2019
    CFRI Clinician-Scientist Award – 2008-2013
    Research Group Members

    Mihoko Ladd – Laboratory Manager
    Ashish Sharma – Graduate Student (PhD) 
    Jennifer Claydon – Clinical Research Coordinator
    Elizabeth Marchant – Graduate Student (PhD)
    Bernard Kan – Graduate Student (MSc)
    Dr. Hamid Razzaghian - Postdoctoral Fellow