Dr. Tricia Tang receives funding award through a partnership with JDRF

26 August 2022

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Canada is proud to partner with Michael Smith Health Research BC and provide support to Dr. Tricia Tang on her 2021 Health Professional-Investigator (HP-I) award.

Collaboration is key to both organizations, as partnerships help support excellence in health research such as funding outstanding researchers like Dr. Tang; as well as help grow needed health research talent and innovation.

The award will help Dr. Tang expand her pilot REACHOUT program, designed to provide greater mental health support to people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) — a key focus for JDRF. This is significant as people living with type 1 diabetes experience greater risk of mental health challenges, including chronic anxiety and psychosocial struggles such as diabetes distress — experiencing a complex range of negative emotions such as stress, guilt, or denial that result from living with a chronic disease and the often-heavy burden of self-management.

Dr. Tricia Tang is an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She is also a behavioural scientist and registered clinical psychologist with an expertise in diabetes research in high-risk and medically underserved populations. Over the past 22 years, she has focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating low-cost and sustainable peer support models for improving long-term diabetes-related health outcomes.

“Health Research BC is delighted JDRF Canada is partnering with us to co-fund Dr. Tang’s research. We value strong partnerships that are integral to fostering world-class health research in BC. Co-funding on Dr. Tang’s award is particularly exciting as her research looks to address access to mental health support for people with T1D living in rural and remote communities,” says Dr. Danielle Lavallee, VP research at Health Research BC.

“REACHOUT uses technology to drive low-cost and sustainable mental health support to the doorstep of adults with T1D. This digital health model will increase the availability, affordability, and accessibility of mental health support particularly for medically underserved and geographically marginalized communities. With the HP-I award, I have the opportunity to change the landscape of mental health care for the T1D community in British Columbia,” says Dr. Tang.

The REACHOUT platform aims to be innovative and highly personalized. Stepping out of rigid and more traditional thinking, participants can select who they want to partner with, and participants self-determine what type of support they want and how much they need. The virtual model also makes peer counselling accessible to everyone regardless of where they live.

“I became a trained peer supporter to be connected to a T1D community,” says Allan Heel, Vernon, BC, who was diagnosed at the age of 25 and has been living with T1D for 32 years. “It’s also helped me to have reassurance that the challenges I have with T1D are not unique to me, and to be able to share ideas for how to manage these challenges,” he adds.

JDRF and Health Research BC look forward to continuing the partnership by working together in the future, sharing common priorities such as helping build research capacity, fill strategic gaps in the health system, and optimize investments in health research for the benefit of people with diabetes and their families.

Watch the video to learn more about REACHOUT.

Find out more about Health Research BC funding competitions.
Get in touch for details of partnership opportunities.