Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

John Tran


B.Sc.(Hons), Ph.D.

Medical Sciences Building, 1 King's College Circle, Room 1193, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5S 1A8

Dr. John Tran is an anatomist and scientist with expertise in the nerve supply to joints commonly impacted by osteoarthritis (OA). His research interests include optimizing image-guided and surgical denervation techniques to treat OA related chronic joint pain. Dr. Tran completed his PhD in the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Professor Anne Agur. He then completed a 2-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with Dr. Eldon Loh in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Western University where his research focused on optimizing percutaneous denervation of the lumbar medial branches to treat chronic facetogenic low back pain.

Dr. Tran is currently an Assistant Professor (Teaching Stream) in the Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto. He is the Course Director for the MSC1001YF: Human Anatomy a dissection-based graduate level course that teaches human gross anatomy using a regional approach with an emphasis on anatomical structure and function.

Dr. Tran is also a Researcher collaborating with clinicians to conduct clinical research related to translating knowledge from the anatomy lab to the clinical setting to optimize pain relief outcomes.

Graduate Faculty Member

Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) - Associate Member Restricted to PACs and/or Teaching

Research Synopsis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition that is a significant economic and healthcare burden. Management of OA related chronic joint pain using surgical and/or image-guided joint denervation procedures has emerged as a viable treatment option. However, effectiveness of these procedures require an in depth knowledge of anatomical relationships as sensory nerves targeted for denervation are not visible with current imaging modalities (i.e. ultrasound and fluoroscopy). Therefore, my research focuses on using dissection & high-fidelity 3D modelling methodologies to visualize relationship of joint innervation to bony/soft tissue landmarks. This anatomical knowledge is used to inform and optimize joint denervation procedures to improve patient’s pain relief outcomes.


Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

Honours and Awards

Cover Image and Editor’s Choice Article
Article: Quantification of Needle Angles for Lumbar Medial Branch Denervation Targeting the Posterior Half of the Superior Articular Process: An Osteological Study.
January 2024 Issue of Pain Medicine Journal

Best of Pain Medicine 2023
Article: Quantification of Needle Angles for Traditional Lumbar Medial Branch Radiofrequency Ablation: An Osteological Study.
One of 6 impactful papers published in 2023 Pain Medicine journal issues chosen by Editor-in-Chief for their particular excellence

Editor’s Choice Article
Article: Anatomical Study of the Innervation of Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex and Distal Radioulnar and Radiocarpal Joints: Implications for Denervation.
September 2022 Issue of Journal of Hand Surgery

2023 Lawson Impact Awards - Leadership Award for Fellows & Students, Lawson Health Research Institute
The Lawson Impact Awards recognize excellence in academics, leadership, training, operations, industry and innovation.

2020 Rehabilitation Sciences Institute Awards - Research Excellence Award, University of Toronto
This award recognizes potential or realized research impact and contributions on disciplines, practice and society. 

2019-2020 MD Program Teaching Excellence Award, University of Toronto
This award recognizes faculty, residents, graduate student teachers and clinicians in the MD Program that have attained Teaching Evaluation Scored in the top 10% in one or more of the teaching activities to which they have contributed.

Research Grants

Anatomical 3D Reconstruction and Fluoroscopic Correlation Study of Lumbar & Sacral Vertebrae: A Pilot Morphometric Analysis with Implications for Medial Branch Denervation 
Funded by the International Pain & Spine Intervention Society Research Grant (2024)

Innervation of Lumbar Facet Joints: Implications for Intervention
Funded by the International Pain & Spine Intervention Society Research Grant (2023)

Evaluation of a novel parasagittal technique for lumbar medial branch denervation for facetogenic chronic mechanical low back pain: a cadaveric feasibility and clinical pilot study
Funded by the Grey Centre for Mobility and Activity at Parkwood Institute Catalyst Grant (2022)


MSC1001Y: Human Anatomy

Description: Gross anatomy of the human body taught from a regional viewpoint. The course is dissection based and includes interactive tutorials and dissection laboratories (96 hours). Anatomical structure and function are emphasized.