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Richard Wassersug

Richard Wasserburg, BA, PhD

Honorary Professor,  Cellular & Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia and Adjunct Professor, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia








I’ve been involved in research in a wide variety of fields and have one of the more diverse research programs of anyone in Canada. Currently I have >9900 citations in Google Scholar. These are in fields as diverse as herpetology, space biology, and human sexuality. Most of my research now though is in psychology and health. Dominant research areas include:

i. Anuran Evolution and Behavior—A long term focus for much of my career has been on the biology of anurans (frogs and toads). In the past 40 years, I have published some 150 peer-reviewed papers on the behavior, neurobiology, ecology, and evolution of these organisms. I have written the account on tadpoles for the Grzimek encyclopedia and I am the most cited author in the major book on tadpole biology.

ii. Space Biology—In 1989, I was invited by NASA to participate in an experiment designed to investigate how the absence of gravity affected vertebrate behavior and development. The experiment flew successfully on the Space Shuttle and led to a variety of other experiments on the behavior of animals in weightlessness. I have been told by the Canadian Space Agency that I published more microgravity research than any other Canadian.

iii. The Psychology of Androgen Deprivation—A major focus of my research for the last decade has been on the psychology of androgen deprivation. I have explored this topic in various populations ranging from male-to-female transsexuals to advanced prostate cancer patients. An applied goal of this research is to develop ways to help genetic males adapt to the effects of androgen deprivation therapy, which is the primary treatment for systemic prostate cancer. This research led to the 2014 book “Androgen Deprivation Therapy: An essential guide for prostate cancer patients and their loved ones” for which I am the lead author. A 2nd edition was published in 2018; two editions together have sold >60,000 copies.

iv. Mentoring students has always been a major part of my life. Over three-dozen undergraduate students have coauthored peer-reviewed publications with me, starting back when I was a graduate student. In the last 16 years I have co-authored papers with 19 students; ten of whom began working with me as undergraduates. At least two of my student coauthors have become deans and three department heads. Most of the student coauthors now have MD degrees.

Lastly, an important part of my life has been as a science communicator. For ten years, I was a columnist on the TV science news show “Daily Planet” as well as “Scientist-in-Residence” for an additional five years for the Canadian Discovery Channel. While at Dalhousie University, I received the two major science communicator awards available in eastern Canada. From 2000 until I moved to Vancouver in 2012, I was a science co-panelist for CBC Radio’s “Maritime Noon” where a chemist colleague and I did a monthly science call-in show. I have also published over 30 essays and reviews in popular newspapers and magazines, such as Natural History, Scientific American, New Scientist, American Scientist, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Conversation, and the New York Times.

Academic and Research Interests

  • Quality of Life
  • Androgen Deprivation Therapy
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Impact of Cancer Treatments on Sexuality and Identity
  • Prostate Cancer's Impact on the Partners of Patients



Contact Information and Social Media


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