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Aaron Shapiro

Dr. Aaron Shapiro is the associate scientific director of Toxicology at BCCDC. He is also a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC.


Dr. Shapiro's current research includes characterization of the illicit drug supply to assist experts in harm reduction and knowledge translation with proactive solutions and rapid responses to drug-related issues.

The illicit drug supply is constantly evolving as drug producers look for ways to evade detection, circumvent controlled substance laws and search for compounds with more desirable pharmacological effects. However, the uncertainty associated with the pharmacology and toxicity of these novel drugs can present unpredictable risks to people who use drugs. Using high-resolution, accurate-mass (HRAM) mass spectrometry, Dr. Shapiro's laboratory can retrospectively mine data collected from previously analyzed samples as information about novel drugs becomes available. 


Dr. Shapiro completed a BSc at the University of Guelph in biomedical toxicology, a MSc at the University of Northern BC in interdisciplinary studies, and a PhD at the University of Toronto in pharmaceutical sciences.

He worked as a forensic toxicologist at the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences where he focused primarily on death investigations for the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. He joined the Provincial Toxicology Centre in August 2017 to meet increasing demands arising from the opioid crisis. 


For Dr. Shapiro's publications, see PubMed.

Selected publications:

Laing, MK, Ti, L., Marmel, A., Tobias, S., Shapiro, AM., Laing, R., Lysyshyn, M., Socías, M. E. An outbreak of novel psychoactive substance benzodiazepines in the unregulated drug supply: preliminary results from a community drug checking program using point-of-care and confirmatory methods. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2021: epub ahead of print.

Ti L, Tobias S, Maghsoudi N, Milloy MJ, McDonald K., Shapiro AM., Beriault D, Stefan C, Lysyshyn M, Werb D. Detection of synthetic cannabinoid adulteration in the unregulated drug supply in three Canadian settings. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2021: epub ahead of print.

Tobias S, Shapiro AM, Grant CJ, Patel P, Lysyshyn M, & Ti L. Drug checking identifies counterfeit alprazolam tablets. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2021:218, 1-5.

Tobias S, Shapiro AM, Wu H; Ti L. Xylazine identified in the unregulated drug supply in British Columbia, Canada. The Canadian Journal of Addiction. 2020:11(3), 28-32.

Crabtree, A, Lostchuck, E, Chong, M, Shapiro, AM, Slaunwhite, A. Toxicology and prescribed medication histories among people experiencing fatal illicit drug overdose in British Columbia, Canada. Can Med Assoc J. 2020:192 (34),E967-E972.

Buxton JA, Spearn B, Amlani A, Kuo M, Lysyshyn M, Young S, Purssell R, Papamihali K, Mill C and Shapiro AM. The British Columbia Drug Overdose and Alert Partnership; interpreting and sharing timely illicit drug information to reduce harms. J CSWB 2019;4(1):4-9.

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