Faculty Research

The following are examples of research projects that our faculty members have undertaken. For more information about individual research projects, please contact the faculty member directly.


The Breast Cancer Prevention & Risk Assessment Clinic helps women reduce their breast cancer risk. The clinic is open to women at increased risk for breast cancer, or who are worried about their risk. The clinic helps women change modifiable lifestyle risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight, increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and limiting alcohol consumption.The clinic has helped more than 1000 women in British Columbia and across the country reduce their risk for breast cancer. The clinic offers community clinics through British Columbia, as well as individual appointments at BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre in Vancouver, BC. The clinic is a project of the Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention, with funding support from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-BC/Yukon Region and support form BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre.Research Contact Person
Carolyn GotayWebsite
breastcancerprevention.spph.ubc.caResearch Keywords
breast cancer, cancer prevention, risk factors, risk assessmentClinical Funding
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region



Ninety six percent of men with prostate cancer will survive five or more years post-diagnosis, but many will live with side effects of the disease and treatment, and may develop related chronic conditions.Androgen deprivation therapy is a common treatment used to control prostate cancer. About 50% of prostate cancer patients receive this treatment. However, this treatment has many negative side effects, including a decrease in bone health, an increase in bone fracture risk, weight gain, and interpersonal relationship changes. Nutrition can help prevent or lessen the impact of these side effects.Cooking classes are a known effective way to teach nutrition information. Because dietary decisions and changes are often made in discussion with partners, the cooking classes in this study will offer the classes to men with prostate cancer and their partners.Study participants will complete a six-session hands-on cooking class and nutrition education program, which may help manage treatment side effects. The program usefulness will be evaluated, and other factors that may contribute to health promotion success will be studied.Research Contact Person
Carolyn GotayResearch Keywords
prostate cancer, cooking classes, androgen deprivation therapy, chronic disease prevention


In August 2012, Dr. Amee Manges left the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health at McGill University to begin an exciting new chapter at the UBC Vancouver School of Population and Public Health within the Faculty of Medicine. Since then, she has been working hard to set-up her new lab space at the BC Centre for Disease Control, and has recently started a new multi-year study on E. coli causing urinary tract infections.Current Objectives: Intestinal microbiota and health

  • We ask epidemiologic questions about how communities of microorganisms that normally live within us (commensal bacteria) are involved in the development and maintenance of health. We focus on the intestinal microbiota. Our laboratory uses next generation sequencing technologies to learn about the function of the microbiota.
    • Clostridium difficile is the most common cause of hospital-acquired infectious diarrhea. Antimicrobial use is a major risk factor, as it suppresses the normal intestinal microbiota, and allows C. difficile to infect the gut. We are conducting comparative metagenomic analyses to investigate the relationship between antimicrobial use, intestinal microbiota alterations and C. difficile colonization and disease in hospitalized patients.
    • Sanitation, malnutrition, and child health in Zimbabwe. Under-nutrition causes one-third of child mortality under the age of 5 years. We are working with our global partner ZVITAMBO and the SHINE Trial in Zimbabwe to understand how the intestinal microbiota may contribute to infant growth faltering.

Food safety and extraintestinal (non-diarrheal) Escherichia coli

  • Our laboratory studies food safety related to extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli. We are currently working with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses and the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance to examine the relationship between the foodborne transmission of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli and the development of community-acquired extraintestinal infections (e.g., urinary tract and bloodstream infections).


Research Contact Person
Magdalena Moczulski

Research Keywords
food safety


The “Working on Wellness in Strategic Populations” (WoW) project is a partnership effort to contribute to the reduction of preventable cancers and other chronic diseases through promotion of overall wellness and healthy choices in the workplace. The project is adapting and implementing an existing workplace wellness program (WellnessFits) for male dominated rural populations in primary industries, as well as some First Nations communities, in BC, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories. The project will work with employers and employees to improve healthy living policies within the workplace, and provide relevant information and education on healthier choices, as well as how to access them.The project is made possible through financial support from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Health Canada. It is being implemented through a partnership between the BC Healthy Living Alliance; the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon Division; the Council of Yukon First Nations; the Government of the Northwest Territories; the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada; and the Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention.Research Contact Person
Carolyn GotayResearch Keywords
worksite wellness, workplace wellness, First Nations, men’s health, cancer prevention, chronic disease prevention, health promotion

Dr. Erica Frank  

NextGenU.org is the world's first organization that provides university-level courses for credit, for free.  Starting with a focus in the health sciences, NextGenU’s accredited courses span from college-level pre-health sciences and community health worker trainings, through medical and public health graduate training, residency programs, and continuing medical education.  The courses are competency-based, and include online knowledge transfer, a web-based global peer community of practice, and local, skills-based mentorships. NextGenU's accredited partners, North American universities and medical special societies that are outstanding in each particular course topic, give individual learners credit for this training (or institutions can adopt them and use them with their students), all for the first time ever cost-free, and also advertisement-free, barrier-free, and carbon-free.  NextGenU now has over 3,000 registered users in over 130 countries, with their courses now demonstrated to create students in North America and beyond with as much knowledge gain and greater satisfaction than with traditional courses.Research Contact Person
Erica FrankWebsite
NextGenU.orgResearch Keywords
health sciences education,  educational innovation,  educational research,  population health,  physician healthFunding
A $16 million endowment (from the Annenberg Physician Training Program) for core expenses, additional grants from governments (e.g., three grants totaling $1.4 million from Grand Challenges Canada), quasi-governmental organizations (e.g., the NATO Science for Peace program, WHO), individual benefactors, and NextGenU.org's biggest donors, their volunteer course developers, advisors, and mentors, and the 1000s of experts who have generously shared their learning resources online, providing this unprecedented opportunity for democratized education.


The CHILDS Play (Creating Healthy Inspiring Landscape Designed Spaces for Play) Research Program, led by Dr. Mariana Brussoni focuses on understanding the importance of outdoor play for children’s healthy development, and how the built outdoor environments impact children’s outdoor play. Currently, we are conducting two research studies under this program of research.

  • The State of Play: Socio-ecological perspective on children’s outdoor play
    Funded by CIHR, this study seeks to gain the perspectives of children aged 10-13 years and their parents on why they are motivated - or not - to play outside. We will use children's and parents' perspectives to develop an index of the playability of outdoor environments - the extent to which a given environment is friendly for outdoor play. The playability index will be useful for designing our urban environments to meet children's needs and positively influence their healthy development.
  • Go Play Outside! Reframing risk to promote children’s outdoor play
    Funded by the Lawson Foundation, this study is to develop an evidence-based online risk reframing tool for parents and educators of children aged 6-12 years to educate them about the importance of outdoor risky play for children.

Our research seeks to reverse the trend that is forcing children indoors and to inform development of evidence-based policies, programs and interventions that promote children’s outdoor play. We are currently looking for study participants for these two research studies. For more information, please visit http://www.cfri.ca/injury/participate.

Research Contact Person
Mariana Brussoni


Research Type
mixed methods

Research Keywords
Children’s outdoor play, built environment, health outcomes, risky play, playability index of outdoor environments, socio-ecological perspective, gender-based analysis


Project Funders
Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Lawson Foundation


In developed countries rates of overweight and obesity in children have increased, substantially. Canada is no exception to this trend. Lack of physical activity, too much sedentary time, and poor dietary habits all contribute to unhealthy weight trajectories. Adolescence is a period when many unhealthy behaviours emerge or escalate; most notably these problems are exacerbated during the transition from elementary to secondary school.Our goal is to examine factors that influence adolescents' physical activity, sedentary time, and dietary habits as they transition from elementary to secondary school. Using qualitative and quantitative methods (e.g., interviews, surveys, and direct measures), we will examine changes that occur in the school, household, and social settings during this transition to identify whether and how they influence adolescent behaviours. We will also determine how these health behaviours relate to academic performance. To inform our prospective longitudinal study, we will conduct interviews with 20 adolescents and their parents. These data will identify environmental and social factors that influence adolescents' physical activity, sedentary behaviours, and dietary habits and inform content of evidence-based surveys. Data will be collected from 736 students (49 elementary schools) and one parent before and after students transition from elementary to secondary school. In addition, to better understand and interpret data from questionnaires and direct measures, we will interview 40 student/ parent units before and after the transition. Our findings will provide new insights into how school, household, and social environments contribute to health behaviours during the transition to high school. In future, our data can be used to develop targeted programs to address these factors and encourage more positive behaviours at adolescence. Ultimately, we aim to alter the current trajectory towards increased health risk among Canada's youth.Research Contact Person
Louise MasseResearch Keywords
academic performance; behaviour change; childhood obesity; determinants of health behaviours; environmental influences; household environment; nutrition; physical activity; school environment; sedentary behavioursOperating Grant Funding

cute baby  

Optimal Birth BC summarizes and communicates the best and most recent evidence to inform women and their care providers about normal childbirth. We seek to improve the way that birth is managed in BC to optimize the rate of cesarean birth. Optimal Birth BC positively influences practice change among maternity care providers in BC by offering them relevant, objective and evidence-based resources and by reviewing local clinical process and outcome data. Optimal Birth BC conducts syntheses of existing peer-reviewed literature for clinicians and provides relevant, expert information and advice to pregnant women in BC. We work with all of the health authorities in BC.
Research Contact Person
Patti JanssenResearch Keywords
caesarean section; maternal child health; normal birth; quality improvement; synthesis.Funding
This project has been funded by a CIHR Knowledge to Action grant, a CIHR Partnerships for Health Systems Improvement Grant, a Capacity Enhancement Award from the Child and Family Research Institute, the Peter Wall Centre for Advanced Studies Solutions Initiative and the Alva Foundation.


The Cedar Project is a two-city cohort study addressing HIV and hepatitis C (HCV)-related vulnerabilities among young Indigenous people who use non-injection and/or injection drugs in British Columbia (BC). Indigenous collaborators and investigators, collectively known as the Cedar Project Partnership, have governed the entire research process. Recent findings have highlighted the significant barriers to accessing health services among young Indigenous people who use drugs - including unaddressed trauma and the lack of cultural safety offered in the healthcare system. The Partnership has called for the Cedar Project to contribute to educating health services about practical ways to deliver culturally-safe and trauma-informed healthcare to young Indigenous people who use drugs. To our knowledge, there is very little information available on successful ways of integrating culturally-safe and trauma-informed models of care, however members of the Cedar Project Partnership and others in the community have been providing such services for decades.This project will focus on the following three aims:

  1. to disseminate quantitative and qualitative research findings regarding trauma and access to care that has been shared by Cedar Project participants
  2. to host sharing circles with Cedar participants, Indigenous Elders, and health service providers with the objective of gathering wisdom about culturally-safe and trauma-informed care
  3. to create a handbook of practical recommendations for delivering culturally-safe and trauma-informed healthcare

Research Contact Person
Patricia Spittal

Research Keywords
culturally-safe care, indigenous young people, charing circles, trauma-informed care

Project Funders
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


In BC, more than 121 early child development coalitions have been established in communities over the past decade, with a primary objective to reduce developmental vulnerability rates of young children across the province and promote children’s readiness to learn. Some early years community coalitions have developed strong inter-organizational partnerships; others, however, are characterized by power struggles, turf battles, and competition over funding resources. Habitual and entrenched ways of working together have contributed to silo approaches to service delivery and continued fragmentation in the early child development service and support system. Developing strategies to enhance collaboration across organizations, disciplines, and sectors has important implications for strengthening a community’s capacity to provide comprehensive and integrated supports for promoting children’s development across domains – social, emotional, and cognitive.Purpose of research: To study collaborative structures, processes, and outcomes of early years coalitions in selected communities across BC. Our focus is to assess the strategies of each community coalition to combine the perspectives, resources, and skills of its member organizations and people, in ways that promote referrals across organizations, information sharing, and resource sharing.What we study: In phase 1 of our project, we assess the characteristics of partnership synergy and network structures in a diverse sample of established early child development coalitions in selected communities across BC. In phase 2, we will apply the knowledge acquired from phase 1 to develop guiding principles to improve partnership synergy and inter-organizational network structure. We will also draw from HELP’s health, school readiness, and education population-level databases to explore the associations between patterns of health and development in each community with the structures, processes, and outcomes of the early years coalitions.Anticipated outcomes: We expect that the project findings will help to enhance early child development coalitions’ ways of organizing and functioning as a collective and also facilitate strategies for collective leadership, resource sharing, and cross-sectoral partnership building. Early years coalitions in BC play a key role in assessment, strategic planning, implementation, and integration of early child development programs and services; therefore, efforts to strengthen their functioning and synergy would have direct implications on quality and comprehensiveness of service delivery in communities, and, in turn, may have long-term impacts on community capacity building and the health and well-being of young children in communities across BC.Research Contact Person
Brenda PoonWebsite
http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/people/Brenda_Poon/Research Type
Community-based mixed methods researchResearch Keywords
community systems, community capacity-building, children, development, case studyDates
2015 - 2018Project Funders
Institute for Health System Transformation and Sustainability (IHSTS)


School of Population and Public Health Professor Dr. Arminee Kazanjian and a team of researchers have developed a knowledge translation model and toolkit that aims to increase access to supportive care for cancer survivors and their families.Dr. Kazanjian is a principal investigator on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)/Canadian Partnership Against Cancer-funded Team for Supportive Cancer Care—a team comprised of researchers, decision makers, program managers, clinicians and survivors in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The team’s research program has four interdependent themes all related to increasing access to supportive cancer care. Currently, Dr. Kazanjian and her team are working with the co-investigators to apply the Knowledge Exchange – Decision Support (KE-DS) Model and Toolkit to their individual projects, which include patient navigation strategies, online support groups and the development of screening tools and measures. The KE-DS Toolkit is designed to assess and understand the properties, effects, and impacts of a program or an intervention in the context of supportive cancer care, to facilitate the inclusion of all stakeholders, and provide the opportunity to align local health needs with population health initiatives. The KE-DS Toolkit has thus far been used to describe and discuss three different projects: The Chinese Peer Navigator Project at the Vancouver Cancer Centre, The Northern Health Navigation project in Prince George, and Cancer Transitions, a psycho-educational care program for cancer survivors offered as a pilot in four different locations across Canada.Dr. Kazanjian’s team is currently operating with an infrastructure grant that funds graduate students, trainees and new investigators.

Research Contact Person
Arminee Kazanjian


Research Type
Knowledge exchange for supportive cancer care

Research Keywords
Knowledge Exchange, Supportive Cancer Care, Patient Navigation, Cancer Survivorship


Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a poor neighbourhood where many of the city's most disadvantaged people, who struggle with addiction, mental illness, and other health issues, find their home. In the mid-1990s, high rates of drug injection use and HIV/AIDS led to the declaration of a 'public health emergency'. Thanks to programs and services introduced at this time, much progress has been made -- but new challenges have emerged. People are living longer, but living with many chronic diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis C, diabetes, etc. They need to access a range of health and social services, many of which are poorly coordinated with each other. To tackle these new challenges, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) developed the Second Generation Strategy (2GS) for the DTES. This research study will evaluate the implementation and outcomes of this strategy. The researchers will use a Developmental Evaluation approach, which is suited for complex projects implemented into changing environments, where many different stakeholders are involved. They will produce 'real-time' information that allows for on-going program improvement and the continuous refinement of indicators for success. The research includes 3 parts:

  • First, managers and service providers will be asked in interviews about their perceptions of service integration, and how different agencies and programs might best work together
  • Second, the researchers will draw upon existing data to develop and track measures of integration, service use, and outcomes for disadvantaged groups
  • The third component will consist of developing a priority setting framework drawing on data inputs from the first and second parts of the research in order for VCH decision makers to determine how best to spend the available resources to achieve a successful full roll-out of the 2GS.

Research Contact Person
Craig Mitton

Research Keywords
health policy analysis; population health intervention; priority setting and resource allocation; program evaluation



UBC’s School of Population and Public Health Professor Sam Sheps and Researcher Karen Cardiff have partnered with three regional health authorities to improve the quality of health care and the safety of patients. The TRACES for Health Care: Training for Adverse and Critical Events in Safety for Health Care research team is developing and implementing a training model for health care staff to investigate and learn from adverse events.Adverse events are critical incidents that cause harm, or almost cause harm, to patients, and can range from over-prescribing medications to amputating the wrong limb. The aim of the training is to build a workplace culture where health care staff will recognize factors that may lead to an adverse event before they occur and learn from adverse events when they occur. The investigations into adverse events will identify systemic factors that influenced and led up to incident, rather than focusing on the actions of individuals who are proximal to the patient at the time of the incident.In addition, the training is aiming to implement evidence-informed perspectives to support safer health care practices in the community.Partnering with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (who have already trained a large number of staff within that Region), the team has started to train healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists etc. in the Saskatoon Health Region and Vancouver Coastal Health.This four-year study received funding in 1009 through the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation’s Research, Exchange and Impact for System Support (REISS) grant, jointly with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.Research Contact Person
Sam Sheps, Karen CardiffDate
1009-2013Research Keywords
Adverse events, critical incidents, resilience, safety, quality


In the elderly hip fractures occur as frequently as common cancers but with severely worse outcomes. Even after treatment, 30% die within a year, 25% never walk again and 22% never live independently. These figures have not changed in the past 15 years, and qualify hip fractures as a major health care issue in Canada.
The majority of patients undergo surgery to repair their hip fracture. Not only does this procedure restore mobility, but also adds years to patients’ active, independent living. However, surgical delays may diminish the procedures therapeutic effects by increasing exposure of patients to immobilization and inflammatory states. To prevent potentially harmful treatment delays, the federal, provincial and territorial governments introduced a 48-hour target for repair of hip fracture, which was adopted a decade ago. However, current evidence is insufficient to justify the changes in hospital care that would be required to prioritize access to this procedure. There is pressing need to identify patients who will benefit from accelerating their surgery through the 48-hour commitment.In this population-based study, we compare surgical outcomes between patients treated within and beyond the benchmark period. Postoperative complications and in-hospital deaths are examined among patients 65 years of age or older who suffered a first-time hip fracture in the community and who were admitted to Canadian acute care hospitals for surgery between 2004 and 2012. We describe times and results of surgery across the entire country using a standardized methodology for defining index admission and care episodes.We will test whether preoperative deaths were more frequent among patients who remained untreated at 48 hours after admission, and whether postoperative complications and ensuing in- hospital deaths were more frequent when surgery was performed beyond 48 hours after admission. We will identify groups of patients who would benefit from accelerated access to hip fracture surgery in terms of fewer complications and deaths.

The Canadian Collaborative Study of Hip Fractures
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the team of surgeons, clinicians, health services researchers, analysts, decision makers, and experts in knowledge translation and patient engagement to study delivery and outcomes of care after hip fracture.
Members: Eric Bohm, Lauren Beaupre, Michael Dunbar, Donald Griesdale, Pierre Guy, Edward Harvey, Erik Hellsten, Susan Jaglal, Hans Kreder, Lisa Kuramoto, Adrian Levy, Suzanne N. Morin, Katie Jane Sheehan, Boris Sobolev, Jason M. Sutherland and James Waddell.

1. Sheehan KJ, Sobolev B, Bohm E, Sutherland J, Kuramoto L, Guy P, Hellsten E, Jaglal S for the Canadian Collaborative on Hip Fractures. Constructing episode of care from acute hospital records for studying effects of timing of hip fracture surgery. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 2016; 34(2): 197-204. available here
2. Sobolev B, Guy P, Sheehan KJ, Kuramoto L, Bohm E, Beaupre L, Sutherland JM, Dunbar M, Griesdale D, Morin SN, Harvey E for the Canadian Collaborative on Hip Fractures. Time trends in hospital stay after hip fracture in Canada, 2004-2012: Database study. Archives of Osteoporosis 2016; 11: 13;1-11. available here
3. Sheehan KJ, Sobolev B, Guy P, Kuramoto L, Morin SN, Sutherland JM, Bohm E, Beaupre L, Griesdale D, Dunbar M, Bohm E, Harvey E for the Canadian Collaborative on Hip Fractures. In-hospital mortality after hip fracture by treatment setting. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2016; doi: 10.1503/cmaj.160522 available here
Research Contacts
Lead Investigator: Professor Boris Sobolev
Project coordinator: YenLi Chu
Twitter: @HFStudy
Website: http://www.hiphealth.ca/research/research-projects/48-hour-benchmark-for-surgery/

Funding information: Funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant.

Research Keywords
Hip fracture, trauma, injury, elderly, surgery, wait times, time to surgery, care delivery


Cycling in Cities is a program of research investigating which factors encourage or discourage the use of bicycles for urban transportation, and which types of transportation infrastructure are associated with increased or decreased risks of injuries to cyclists.The research program is based at the University of British Columbia (School of Population & Public Health, and School of Environmental Health). It has many partners including researchers from the Universities of Victoria and Toronto, cycling planners, cycling advocates, and hospital-based researchers in Vancouver and Toronto. The doctoral research of one of the School PhD graduates, Dr. Meghan Winters, was part of this research program.The studies are funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, CIHR, the Moving on Sustainable Transportation program of Transport Canada, TransLink, and the cities of Metro Vancouver. The research program website describes the research in detail and includes links to brochures, posters, and scientific articles.Research Contact Person
Kay Teschke Website
Cycling in CitiesDate
1006 to presentResearch Type
Injury Epidemiology, Opinion Survey, GISResearch Keywords
transportation, urban planning, built environment, injuries

Mieke Koehoorn  

In February 2013, Mieke Koehoorn, SPPH Professor and Co-lead of the Partnership for Work, Health and Safety, was named as CIHR Research Chair in Gender, Work and Health. Her Chair supports Partnership projects investigating gender and sex differences in work injury and illness rates in BC, and gender and sex differences in work disability outcomes across compensation systems in Canada and internationally.Dr. Koehoorn is conducting several population-based studies using administrative health databases (i.e. workers’ compensation claims) to investigate gender/sex differences in work injury and illness rates, and work disability or return-to-work outcomes, within the same occupation/industry groups by type of injury illness, over time, and by age groups. Cross-jurisdictional comparisons are made to identify system- or policy-level characteristics that may influence gender/sex differences. Website
CIHR Chair in Gender, Work and HealthResearch Contact Person
Suhail MarinoResearch Keywords
Sex/gender, workers' compensation, occupational heath and safety, work injuryProject Funders
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Avian Influenza (AI) is a viral disease that can cause significant morbidity and mortality in domestic poultry. Certain strains can also cause disease in people. AI outbreaks, and associated eradication efforts, have negative impacts on the economy and food security. In 2014/2015 there were multiple AI outbreaks in Canada and the USA. Although the impact of the Canadian outbreaks is not yet known, the US outbreaks were estimated to have cost ~ $3B and resulted in shortages and price increases for certain poultry products (e.g., the price of eggs more than doubled). In addition to the direct effects of the disease, the presence of notifiable AI (NAI) in a country has significant negative implications for trade. Canada is one of 11 countries/trade groups (including the USA and the Eurozone) that are considered “free” of NAI by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). For these reasons, i.e., to mitigate the potential disease impact from AI outbreaks, as well as to maintain our OIE disease-free designation, Canada must ensure that effective surveillance strategies are in place in order to detect, control and prevent outbreaks. Such surveillance strategies, first and foremost, must focus on wild waterfowl.Wild waterfowl, which are generally asymptomatic carriers of the virus, are responsible for long-distance transmission of AI, spreading the virus into new geographic areas during their migration. Overlap between migratory routes also facilitates virus reassortment. Indeed, the 2014/2015 North American outbreaks were caused by a virus that contained a Eurasian H5 segment and a North American N2 segment. There is concern that global warming and associated changes in migratory patterns might favor increased incursion of Eurasian viruses into North America. This is particularly problematic because Eurasian viruses tend to be more pathogenic for both people and poultry and could lead to an increase the frequency and severity of North American AI outbreaks. It is of note that reassortment and long distance movement of viruses in waterfowl makes it difficult to predict circulating virus strains, which, in turn, makes it difficult to develop effective vaccination programs for poultry.Thus far, waterfowl AI surveillance (in Canada and elsewhere in the world) has been centered on testing individual wild birds – an approach that has significant limitations stemming from the practical and financial impediments to collecting a representative sample of wild waterfowl. Indeed, this surveillance was in place in the USA and Canada in 2014/2015 and failed to predict outbreaks in either country. This surveillance failure highlighted the need for better tools to predict and prevent AI incursions and outbreaks. We believe that a significantly superior approach for AI surveillance is the sampling of wetland sediments. We believe this to be so since AI is shed in bird feces; thus, it is predicted that sampling wetland sediments where feces accumulate will be an efficient and effective way of detecting AI in waterfowl populations.Indeed, we have demonstrated that wetland sediments are a suitable proxy for waterfowl surveillance. A 2015/2016 pilot study conducted by our team at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory (PHL) and the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (BCMAL) used genomics to identify the H5N2 virus in sediment samples from large wetlands throughout outbreak area as well as smaller waterbodies on infected farms. This study was able to detect AI in up to 37% of sediment samples as compared to a < 1 % rate of detection in the current national wild-bird surveillance program. The intent of the present project is to both refine the technology and to conduct a large scale field validation of wetland-based sediment surveillance. As well, we will analyze sediment samples from poultry farms to identify factors that promote or prevent waterfowl-related AI environmental contamination. If successful, wetland-based sediment analysis will be used as the cornerstone of a new AI surveillance program in BC. On-farm data will be used to modify current biosecurity regulations in order to further decrease the risk of waterfowl-to-poultry AI transmission.
Research Contact Person
Chelsea HimsworthDate
January 2015 - August 2018Research Type
Disease ecologyResearch Keywords
avian influenza, ecology, genomics, surveillance, waterfowl, wildlifeProject Funders
Genome British Columbia
Government of British Columbia
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Sustainable Poultry Farming Group


A leading indicator is a measurable health and safety characteristic that can help identify risk of, for example, work injury and illness. Leading indicators can be used to improve health and safety within an organization and to prevent injury and illness before they occur, in contrast to the more common lagging indicators, which measure work injury and illness after they happen. Lead investigator Dr. Chris McLeod and the Partnership for Work, Health and Safety (PHWS) are working to

  1. establish a set of leading indicators that organizations can use to assess and improve their health and safety performance, and
  2. better understand how an organization’s health, safety and disability practices are related to occupational injuries and illness.

In 2014, PHWS began working with SafeCare BC, the health and safety association for private long-term care homes in BC, to recruit long-term care home representatives (staff and management) to participate in an online survey of their organizational health and safety practices, with the aim of identifying organizational characteristics that can help to predict workplace injury and illness. In mid-2015, PHWS began working with FIOSA-MIOSA Safety Alliance of BC, the health and safety association for manufacturers and food processors, to extend the study to firms in a range of sectors.

Also in 2015, PHWS extended this work to evaluate violence prevention programs in the health care sector. PHWS is building on existing research into effective violence prevention and occupational health and safety management to develop leading and lagging indicators to best measure the effect of violence prevention initiatives in BC, through literature review, focus groups, key informant interviews, and an organizational survey. This study is being conducted in partnership with Fraser Health and Island Health, who will facilitate the piloting of potential leading indicators within their facilities.

Occupational health and safety practices survey/

Research Contact Person
Suhail Marino

Research Keywords
Occupational health and safety, work injury, leading indicators, policy, long-term care, health human resources, workplace violence, prevention

Project Funders
FOISA-MIOSA Safety Alliance of BC


Many Canadian provinces and international jurisdictions use similar outcome measures to assess workers' compensation system performance, including severe work-related injuries and long duration claims. Analyses of these outcome measures through a comparative approach are more powerful than those from single-jurisdiction studies because it is possible to control for additional sources of variation that may be driving the findings and to take advantage of natural policy experiments.Dr. Chris McLeod and the Partnership for Work, Health and Safety (PHWS) are conducting national research that compares severe injuries and long duration claims within and across BC, Manitoba and Ontario, in collaboration with co-investigators from the Institute for Work & Health in Ontario and the University of Manitoba. This work will result in a compendium of findings that will serve as a policy and reference tool for compensation systems. The compendium will provide a basis for analysis of the trends, variations and drivers of long term claims as well as help identify best practices across the three provinces.PHWS' international research focuses on return to work outcomes after injury/illness in jurisdictions in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in collaboration with with Australian and New Zealand researchers and compensation boards. The objectives of this international comparative work are to link work disability management policy to return to work outcomes through a policy framework, use and develop comparative data across participating jurisdictions, and investigate the drivers of differences in severe work disability trends. Website
National and international comparative researchResearch Contact Person
Suhail MarinoResearch Keywords
Occupational health and safety, workers' compensation, work injury, policy, outcomes, international, comparative researchProject Funders
Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Historically, urban rats have been the source of a number of infectious diseases associated with significant human illness and death in cities around the world. Yet despite the fact that rats are thriving in cities around the world, and despite the fact that rats are known to pose a potential health threat for people, there is very little contemporary data on urban rat populations or rat-associated public health threats in modern cities.No where is this knowledge gap more obvious than in Canada, where there has never been a comprehensive study of rats. This is problematic because without a thorough understanding of rats and the diseases they carry, we cannot even begin to accurately gauge rat-associated health risks or to develop strategies to monitor and mitigate those risks.The goal of the Vancouver Rat Project is to address this knowledge gap by studying urban rat populations, the microbes they carry, and the risk that they could pose to people through the transmission of infectious diseases.Research Contact Person
Chelsea HimsworthDate
2010 - present (ongoing)Research Type
Disease ecology and epidemiologyResearch Keywords
ecology, epidemiology, rats, urban, zoonotic diseaseProject Funders
Canadian Instituted of Health Research
Natural Sciences Research Council
BC Centre for Disease Control