Island Health grants fuel UVic research

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Human and Social Development, Social Sciences, Education

Improving dementia care, stroke recovery and cancer support services are among the goals of eight newly funded projects involving University of Victoria health researchers.

Each of the projects is receiving $15,000 from Island Health through its new Collaborative Research Grant Competition, which aims to strengthen ties between the health agency (formerly known as the Vancouver Island Health Authority, or VIHA) and its academic partners. 

Island Health is one of six health jurisdictions in BC, providing health care and support services to more than 765,000 people. Last fall, UVic and Island Health established a formal partnership to create new opportunities for collaborative research, commercialization, skills training and information-sharing. 

The new grants are seed money for the research partners in each project to get started with their work and seek more support from external funding agencies. 

The fact that UVic is involved in all eight successful grants (out of an application pool of 29 from across the Island) is a measure of UVic’s growing leadership in the health research arena, says Dr. David Castle, UVic’s vice-president research.

“UVic has a deep and broad pool of research talent in the health field, as these grants indicate,” he says. “Working in partnership with people on the front lines of health care, policy development, and service delivery enhances patient outcomes in the region and contributes to a global body of knowledge.”

“Island Health is building research into clinical work because doing so improves patient care and makes this a more attractive place to work,” says Dr. Martin Wale, Island Health’s executive medical director for research. “Collaboration with UVic brings huge benefits, matching clinical expertise with the strength and depth of UVic’s research expertise and capacity,” 

More than 200 UVic researchers—roughly 25 per cent of UVic faculty—are involved in health research in aging, mental health and addictions, community health promotion, Aboriginal health, health informatics, bioethics, environment and health, and biomedical research.

In the 2015 international Leiden rankings—which measure the scientific performance of 750 world-leading universities—UVic has the highest proportional impact in the biomedical and health sciences of any university in Canada without a medical school.

“Medical schools and their associated research hospitals tend to generate high research activity, so for UVic to rank so well speaks volumes about the quality, reach and impact of our research.”

The eight funded projects are:

  • Andre Smith (sociology) working with the Chemainus Health Care Centre on the use of antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients in residential care.
  • Anne Bruce (nursing) working with Victoria Hospice on reducing stress for end-of-life caregivers through storytelling.
  • Alex Kuo (health information sciences) working with iHealth Data Analytics on new ways to design, develop and mine big health care datasets.
  • Bernie Pauly (nursing) working with Adult Mental Health and Substance Use on ways of integrating services for the homeless.
  • Paul Zehr (Centre for Biomedical Research) working with Queen Alexandra Orthotics on combining botox with ankle and elbow movement training to help stroke survivors use exercise equipment.
  • Ali Dastmalchian (Gustavson) working with the central island’s Medical Health Officer on understanding human resource climates within organizations, focusing on Island Health and its network of hospitals.
  • Bonnie Leadbeater (psychology) working with the Chief Medical Health Officer on creating the first-ever report on what factors and risk behaviours affect the health and mental health of young adults on Vancouver Island.
  • Carol McDonald (nursing) working with Victoria Hospice on identifying the challenges faced by high-mortality cancer patients and their caregivers.

In this story

Keywords: health, research, funding, sociology, nursing, Island Health

People: Andre Smith, Anne Bruce, Alex Kuo, Bernie Pauly, Paul Zehr, Ali Dastmalchian, Bonnie Leadbeater, Carol McDonald

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