Unlocking breakthrough research: Health Research BC funds 41 Research Trainees to improve health and health outcomes

21 September 2023

Health research enables discovery breakthroughs in the mysteries of health, disease, and sickness, that ultimately lead to effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatments. Michael Smith Health Research BC is providing funding to 41 early career researchers through our Research Trainee Program to enrich BC’s health research talent.

Investing in early career researchers

Our Research Trainee Program supports the best and brightest health researchers in training to enable career development and support world-class health research in BC. Attracting, retaining, training, and growing a diverse health research workforce is critical for better health and health care and a stronger economy.

We are also excited to announce an increase to the annual Research Trainee award from $45,000 to $60,000* starting with this year’s cohort.

Funding for research trainees in Canada, including post-doctoral and graduate students, has been stagnant for many years. “As BC’s health research agency, we are taking steps to reverse this trend by implementing an award increase – the second increase for research trainees in three years,” says Bev Holmes, president & CEO, Health Research BC.

This much needed support is leading the way among provincial and national funders in the health research system. “We are increasing our funding based on an environmental scan of comparable awards, recommendations from federal reports, and ongoing monitoring of the funding landscape. Principles of equity, diversity and inclusion; effects of inflation; and the importance of nurturing a globally competitive research talent base in BC also factored into our decision,” adds Bev.

“This investment is an important step in retaining top health research talent to support our health care system and improve people’s lives,” says Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “By supporting researchers, we can attract and retain the best students in health science, and increase innovation and productivity, for a stronger BC.”

Building talent for BC’s future

The 2023 award recipients are investigating important topics including: developing a patient-centered decision aid for rehabilitation in the advanced cancer setting; strengthening safety nets to improve access to substance use and mental health services to optimize youth-determined health and wellness; and characterizing the pain needs of vulnerable palliative care patients with substance use disorder.

The 2023 Research Trainees are performing research at institutions across the province, including University of Victoria, UBC-Okanagan, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre.

“The Michael Smith Health Research BC award allows me to develop new solutions to predict and diagnose complications following open-heart surgeries, which will help patients to have a better quality of life after this life-changing procedure,” says 2023 Research Trainee awardee Dr. Linda Lapp. Linda is based at the Centre for Heart Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver; and her research focuses on identifying biomarkers that could predict and potentially diagnose complications after heart transplant surgery – with the aim to reduce adverse health outcomes and improve overall patient care after transplantation.

Advancing discovery and innovation together

Strong partnerships are integral to helping develop BC’s health research talent and allow us to fund more researchers while helping partners optimize their research dollars to advance their research priorities. Thank you to the 2023 Research Trainee award partners who helped co-fund seven awardees:

Stay tuned for details of our 2024 Research Trainee competition – opening to applicants in November.

Learn more about Health Research BC funding programs.

* There is no change to the research and travel allowance, for a total award amount of $64,500.