We champion people’s lived experience in health research to help answer questions that matter to patients.


Over the past six years, we’ve been committed to improving health research. We partnered researchers with patients to help improve health care. We moved evidence into practice. And we made health data easier to access. Now, we’re looking ahead to support big changes in the health system.


“We’ve helped build the foundations for research that engages patients, but there’s still work to be done,” said Dr. Stirling Bryan, chief scientific officer, Michael Smith Health Research BC. “That’s why we’re taking the next step to bring research that involves patients into practice. We’re grateful that the federal and provincial governments continue to support this work.”


Download our fact sheet and read about our impact.

We partner researchers with patients and support meaningful and active engagement for patients, public and communities in research.

In 2021-22, research teams we supported were awarded over:


$5.2 million

Over six years, 133 scientific articles were published from research we support.

One-third of these articles have patient partners as co-authors.
Illustration of a pie graph: 1 in 3.

We move evidence developed with patients into practice.


This includes supporting 16 clinicians to engage patient, public and community partners as part of the Health Professional-Investigator competition.


“…Engaging patients is critical in modern medicine. This patient, public, partnership review and response step is undoubtedly an essential step where researchers need to look into their proposals to ensure their research is meaningful, patient-care-orientated, and ethical. Thank you!” – Quote from an applicant to the 2022 HP-I Award

We make health data easier to access and boost data quality while ensuring data safety and security.


The Health Data Platform helps researchers, governments and health authorities better understand how people use BC’s health system. Through a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the BC SUPPORT Unit and other health organizations, teams can now access province-wide data in one secure location.

Health Research BC supported a study showing 8-1-1 referrals to a virtual physician safely reduce in-person visits to the emergency department. Researchers from the Emergency Medicine Network and HealthLink BC co-led the study. Read more.

It’s clear that the best care is delivered by health systems that listen to and act on people’s needs. That’s why we support vital work in all of BC’s health regions and beyond to advance patient engagement in research.


Dr. Shultz in his lab at VIU with team member.

Researcher Sandy Shultz is working with survivors to support better care for people experiencing brain injury after relationship violence on Vancouver Island. Trigger warning: This story discusses intimate partner violence. More

Long term care resident prepares for Pride event.

We launched a learning resource to support 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors in long-term care facilities, starting in Vancouver. More

Dr. Song stands in front of imaging machine.

There’s no single known cause for myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. And there’s no cure. That’s why patient partner, Kati Debelic, worked with neuroimaging scientist, Dr. Xiaowei Song, to seek answers. More

Allison Kooijman, PhD candidate at UBC Okanagan, speaks at an event.

After Allison Kooijman got an unnecessary medical procedure that left her disabled, she used her experience to help patients and care providers in the Interior heal together after harm. More

John Grogan, patient partner in northern BC.

People living in urban centres often make decisions about where to place health services. But would people living in BC’s northern communities make different choices? Patient partners and researchers joined together to find out. More

Image of a fictitious map showing stages of patient-oriented research

Our interactive ‘road map’ was developed to support research teams navigating the patient-oriented research process. In 2023, the road map was adapted for French-language speakers, through a partnership between the BC SUPPORT Unit and Unité de soutien SSA Québec. More

“Often, as scientists, we get wrapped up in the lab or behind the computer and begin to forget what we’re working toward. But connecting with patients helps bring us back to reality and gives the work meaning. We’re not just looking at biomarkers, we’re connecting to a real person.”
– Dr. Sandy Shultz, professor, department of nursing, health and human services, Vancouver Island University

The BC SUPPORT Unit is part of Health Research BC. Advancing patient-oriented research is a key part of Health Research BC’s efforts to catalyze change for a stronger health system.


The BC SUPPORT Unit is funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of BC. We’re part of the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, a national initiative led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.