Innovating for a healthier future in BC (

Media Contacts

Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation

Media Relations
250 883-2068

Thandi Fletcher

Senior Media Strategist
University of British Columbia
604 822-2234

Nathan Skolski

Associate Director, Public Affairs
University of British Columbia-Okanagan
604 365-8558

Jennifer Kwan

Manager, Integrated Marketing + Communications Strategies
University of Victoria
250 721-7641

Braden McMillan,

Director, Media Relations and Public Affairs
Simon Fraser University
236 880-3459

Jenn McGarrigle

Manager of External Communications
Vancouver Island University
250 619-6860

Michelle Nordstrom

Senior Communications Consultant
Thompson Rivers University
250 852-6264


Universities get research funding

University of British Columbia-Vancouver

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions - $761,936

  • Nutrition and Eating Behaviour Laboratory, $125,000 (researcher: Tamara Cohen)

The project will create a new Nutrition and Eating Behaviour Lab (NEB-Lab) that will be a “one-stop shop” to assess changes in body composition and offer dietary behavioural counselling. The new lab will create nutrition interventions aligned with Canadian dietary guidelines, while assessing individual body composition. By 2030, the new lab aims to become a leading national and international research centre for behavioural-nutrition research.

  • Infrastructure for advancing galaxy evolution research with the James Webb Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory, $80,000 (researcher: Allison Man)

The research project will study physical processes governing galaxy evolution, a forefront research area in astronomy. The project is expected to unlock new discoveries in the origins of the galaxies with the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope. It will elevate B.C.'s profile in astronomy, which will further attract federal funding from the Canada Space Agency and attract international highly qualified talent. More than 15 trainees will acquire advanced analytic and computing skills readily transferable to the information and communication technologies sector.

  • The Loucks Pain Management Pharmacogenomics (PMP) Lab, $125,000 (researcher: Catrina Loucks)

The project will develop methods, from genetic discoveries to predictive genetic testing, to help select the safest and most effective medications for children with regard to pain management. The goals include discovering robust genetic factors that influence variability in pain and medication responses in children, validating newly discovered genetic factors with a pain management model (using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans) and contributing to precision medicine initiatives through the development of predictive genetic-testing strategies.

  • Multimodal slide scanning for dental research, $81,936 (researcher: Joy Richman)

The project will study embryo development and the biology of tooth development to understand the causes of birth defects like cleft lip. Outcomes will include the discovery of genes that control facial and dental development in babies and children. The work will also identify new, safe, dietary supplements that can protect embryos from developing cleft lip and palate. In the long term, the discoveries on tooth development are expected to be used to bio-engineer natural replacements for teeth and to lead dental treatments that prevent early tooth loss.

  • Pharmacometabolomic for precision cancer treatment, $350,000 (researcher: Thomas Velenosi)

This project will identify and characterize metabolites that can determine early drug responses during cancer treatment. Cancer cells change their metabolism to grow and survive. During this process, they release small molecules called metabolites that can be measured in blood and urine. These metabolites can change during cancer therapy and act as indicators of treatment effectiveness or resistance.  This project will use cutting-edge techniques, including metabolomics, lipidomics and stable-isotope metabolic flux, to identify and measure small molecules.  The project results will ultimately allow the development of blood and urine tests that can anticipate treatment needs and reduce cancer mortality.

University of British Columbia - Okanagan

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions - $744,000

  • Applied Microbial Systems Ecology: an integrated approach to stable bioprocesses, $125,000 (researcher: Alyse Kiesser)

This project investigates the impacts of climate change on the resilient properties of microbial systems. Results will contribute to estimations of the impact of climate change on microbial carbon storage, and greenhouse gas production and consumption. The project will also investigate innovative bioprocess design for bioremediation and bioproduct applications.

  • Multi-Axial Subassemblage Test System (MAST) to develop resilient and sustainable high-rise buildings, $619,000 (researcher: Lisa Tobber)

The project will investigate the capacity of building components, substructures and sub-assemblies to resist earthquakes and other destructive forces like wind loads. The project will use a new Multi-Axial Sub-assemblage Test System to increase understanding of the behaviour of buildings in B.C.  The new infrastructure system will be the first in Western Canada and can provide engineers with the data needed for the rehabilitation of structures to avoid any substantial damages due to potential natural disasters.  In the long term, the results will be used to propose more resilient and sustainable building materials, components and structural systems, and improve design codes and engineering practices.

University of Victoria

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions - $585,000

  • Reducing non-communicable chronic disease by moving behavioural science into the real world, $130,000 (researcher: Brianna Turner)

This project will examine relationships between the intentions, social connections and health behaviours of British Columbians to support physical, cognitive and mental health. Specifically, the project will increase our understanding of behaviours that influence health, including when and why people engage in harmful behaviours (e.g., self-harm), examine brain activation and cognitive indicators of decisions related to health, and improve opportunities for children to engage in physical activity.

  • Human Motion at the Intersections of Engineering and Art through Extended Realities, $100,000 (researcher: Brandon Haworth)

This research project will use an "extended" reality to model human motion across a broad spectrum of people with diverse mobilities for predictive applications in built-environment design, urban planning and emergency planning, as well as artistic applications in games, film, media and theatre. An "extended" Reality Human Movement Experimentation infrastructure platform will facilitate prototyping and tangible fabrication.

  • Old Cell Enrichment (OCE)-DSB imaging platform to investigate age-related causes of genome instability, $175,000 (researcher: Jennifer Cobb)

The project will examine a new approach to cancer treatment in relation to the age of patients. It will investigate the age-related causes of genome instability and discover novel ways to treat cancer by targeting DNA repair defects in cancerous and aged cells.

  • NMR Appurtenance for Synthesis, $180,000 (researcher: Jeremy Wulff)

The project in the field of synthetic chemistry will use high-throughput chemical synthesis techniques to create molecules that improve outcomes in medicine, manufacturing, solar energy collection and fine chemicals production, including stronger polymer materials. 

Simon Fraser University

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions - $200,000

  • Printable Green Semiconductors for Eco-Friendly Self-Powered Smart Sensors, $100,000 (researcher: Vincenzo Pecunia)

This project will develop easy-to-make, eco-friendly photovoltaics and self-powered smart sensors that can be widely deployed for clean electricity generation, and the dissemination of sensors for more sustainable living. This may help reduce B.C.'s carbon footprint through generating power, delivering technologies applicable to the early detection of wildfires and improving the energy efficiency of homes and agriculture. Research may contribute to the growth of B.C.’s clean tech and high-tech sectors by creating new partnerships with industry, and by training students and researchers in cutting-edge clean technologies.

  • An Accessible Physical Computing Environment for Blind or Low-Vision People, $100,0000 (researcher: Xing-Dong Yang)

The research project will develop accessible physical computing environments to allow blind or low-vision (BLV) people to practice entry-level electronics and computing skills. This will involve developing hardware and software tools that can be used without vision. The tools are expected to be used in an educational environment to make STEM fields, such as electrical engineering and computer science, more accessible and inclusive to the BLV community. The knowledge gained from this research is expected to lead to new technologies that will improve educational and working infrastructure for all.

Vancouver Island University

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions - $106,389

  • High-resolution ambient mass spectrometry imaging for in-situ spatial metabolomics, $74,895 (researcher: Kyle Duncan)

The project will build a first-of-its-kind platform to map small molecules directly in tissue. This technology will be used to study the metabolism of tumours with the aim of discovering new therapeutic targets for cancer immunotherapy. Alterations in tissue metabolism can be indicative of serious and chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer. Conventional techniques used to profile small biomolecule alterations in tissue rely on tissue dissection. As a result, the rich metabolic tapestries throughout tissue substructures remain hidden. This project will enable new science that will probe molecular mechanisms of disease.

  • Building research infrastructure in central and north Vancouver Island with evidence-based, non-invasive eye-tracking technologies, $31,494 (researcher: Yoichi Mukai)

The research project aims to develop an eye-tracker facility at Vancouver Island University.  This will involve using new eye-tracking equipment and pupillometry-based measurements to quantify second language fluency as a reflection of cognitive effort and investigate adaptive cognition during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The eye-tracking equipment will also be used for future studies and for training students in research methods.

Thompson Rivers University

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions - $77,411

  • Capillary Electrophoresis for Characterization of Pharmacologically Relevant Compounds in the Cannabinoid Industry: $77,411 (researcher: Kingsley Donkor)

The project will provide an analytical tool that regulatory agencies and B.C. cannabis companies can use to monitor the content constituents such as tetrahydro cannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in commercial and advanced cannabis formulations. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) methods will be developed for separating and determining CBD and THC, their metabolites, and acids in commercial cannabis products. Ultimately, the project results will enhance the safety of cannabis products in the market and contribute to a safer and more responsible use of cannabis in B.C.

What people are saying about health research

Deborah Buszard, interim president and vice-chancellor, University of British Columbia —

“The BCKDF empowers UBC faculty and researchers to push the boundaries of research and find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Today’s investment in research infrastructure is a testament to the wide-ranging research potential across UBC campuses. Be it advancements in pediatric pain management or unveiling the mysteries of our cosmos, UBC’s dedication to research continues to enhance the lives of British Columbians. We’re deeply appreciative of the B.C. government’s support in fostering an environment where knowledge thrives.”

Lesley Cormack, principal and deputy vice-chancellor, University of British Columbia-Okanagan —

“At UBC Okanagan, our researchers are driving projects that have direct implications for the lives of those in B.C.’s Interior and far beyond. This round of support from the BCKDF is pivotal in bolstering our research endeavours, from creating resilient infrastructure to withstand natural disasters to paving the way for greener, sustainable solutions for the future. We are immensely grateful to the provincial government for supporting the transformative work happening on our campus.”

Lisa Kalynchuk, vice-president, research and innovation, University of Victoria —

“With this funding, the University of Victoria has a tremendous opportunity to address some of the multi-faceted health challenges facing thousands of British Columbians each day. These projects will leverage UVic’s decades of expertise in behavioural and scientific health research to unlock critical solutions to chronic disease and precision therapies for aging cancer patients.”

Dugan O’Neil, vice-president, research and international, Simon Fraser University —

“Simon Fraser University is grateful for the generous support to develop cutting-edge clean and accessible technologies. This infrastructure funding will enable researchers to make advances in sustainable smart sensors for a variety of applications and create more user-friendly computing environments for blind and low-vision people. The BCKDF helps the province remain competitive, benefits our communities, and supports students, researchers, and partnerships in the region.”

Nicole Vaugeois, associate vice-president, research and graduate studies, Vancouver Island University

“Vancouver Island University is deeply committed to applied research projects that contribute to the health, well-being and prosperity of British Columbians, and the educational experiences of our students. We are grateful for the BCKDF grants that will support our researchers to explore tumour metabolism with the goal of discovering new treatments for cancer; investigate effective ways to assess the fluency of second language learners; and improve the health and well-being of women during pregnancy and the early postpartum period.”

Shannon Wagner, vice-president research, Thompson Rivers University —

“Thompson Rivers University is proud to lead the way in cannabis research, thanks to the support of provincial government funding. Our groundbreaking Capillary Electrophoresis project promises safer and more responsible cannabis use in B.C. by providing regulatory agencies and companies with precise tools to monitor cannabinoid content. Together, we're shaping a safer and more informed cannabis industry."