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UVic Health Initiative

researcher in lab

The UVic Health Initiative (UHI) aims to enhance the quality and raise the profile of health research, programs and related activities at UVic. It is a joint activity of the offices of the Vice-President Research and Innovation and the Vice-President Academic and Provost.

With more than 200 faculty who self-identify as health researchers, the UHI focuses on advancing lifelong health for all. UVic has strengths in the signature areas of healthy aging, Indigenous health, mental health, and translational medicine. The goals of the UHI are to:

  • improve visibility of our strengths in health
  • build a cohesive health identity and enhance health research performance and reputation
  • strengthen and support existing health programs
  • identify new interdisciplinary and collaboration opportunities
  • enhance collaboration between clusters of activity, research centres and academic programs
  • improve the structures for health research at UVic

The UHI was previously called the Health Science Initiative. The name was updated to indicate broader inclusion of all types of health research, scholarship and creative works.


Collaborative Health Grants

The UVic Collaborative Health Grants program is sponsored by the UHI to support projects across campus. This funding opportunity stimulates team-based, interdisciplinary, health-related projects. It supports projects that are likely to have significant impact and that will advance the research pillar of the UHI.

Total awarded in March 2021: $437,622.45

Addressing challenges in tumor imaging: novel X-ray detectors offering a submicron spatial resolution

  • Saidaminov, Makhsud (Chemistry)
  • Bazalova-Carter, Magdalena (Physics)
  • Award: $34,000

An examination of stellate ganglion block for post-traumatic stress disorder: an intensive measurement study

  • Hofer, Scott (Psychology)
  • Rhodes, Ryan (Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education)
  • Fisher, Kyle (Island Health)
  • Graham, Raquel (Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health)
  • Rush, Jonathan (Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health)
  • Hayashi, Allen (Island Health)
  • Shafonsky, Eric (Island Health)
  • Award: $34,000

Combined therapeutic approach to treat cancer

  • Chithrani, B. Devika (Physics and Astronomy/Medical Physics)
  • Willerth, Stephanie (Mechanical Engineering/Division of Medical Sciences)
  • Howard, Perry (Biochemistry and Microbiology)
  • Alexander, Abraham (Radiation Oncology, BC Cancer)
  • Beckham, Wayne (Medical Physics, BC Cancer)
  • Brolo, Alex G. (Chemistry)
  • Award: $34,000

Development of a novel multi-disciplinary model to explore biological aging

  • Jabbari, Hosna (Computer Science)
  • Mallidou, Anastasia (Nursing)
  • Newton, Lorelei (Nursing)
  • Paterson, Theone (Psychology)
  • Rhodes, Ryan (Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education)
  • Zhang, Jie (Business)
  • Miller, Jo Ann (Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health)
  • Award: $34,000

Global goal, local impact: access to abortion services for Indigenous peoples in Canada

  • Monchalin, Renee (Public Health and Social Policy)
  • Pérez Piñán, Astrid (Public Administration)
  • Award: $34,000

Health resurgence: interweaving academic success with land-based practices at UVic

  • Hunt, Sarah (Environmental Studies)
  • Christine O’Bonsawin (Indigenous Studies)
  • Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (CIRCLE/Indigenous Nationhood)
  • Award: $33,660

Primary care nurse practitioners in the time of COVID: an ethnographic analysis of practice

  • Bertoni, Katherine (Nursing)
  • Boudreault-Fournier, Alexandrine (Anthropology)
  • Contandriopoulos, Damien (Nursing)
  • Health Care on Yates clinic (HCOY)
  • CIFI [Nursing Education Innovation Centre]
  • Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of British Columbia (NNPBC)
  • Award: $33,555.45

Reelin homeostasis and cancer: investigating the effects of Reelin on glioblastoma cell lines in a three-dimensional chip model

  • Akbari, Mohsen (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Caruncho, Hector (Division of Medical Sciences)
  • Watson, Peter (BC Cancer Agency)
  • Award: $34,000

Screening of Iron chelators as therapeutics in a 3D model of Parkinson's disease

  • Ehlting, Jürgen (Biology)
  • Willerth, Stephanie (Mechanical Engineering/Division of Medical Sciences)
  • Walter, Patrick (Biology)
  • Award: $34,000

Strengthening the foundation of the home: developing staff wellness strategies in Indigenous alcohol harm reduction services

  • Pauly, Bernie (Nursing)
  • Stockwell, Tim (Psychology)
  • Hunt-Jinnouchi, Fran (Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society)
  • Dueck, Mathew (First Nations Health Authority)
  • Award: $34,000

The impact of COVID-19 on social isolation and mental health among middle-aged and older adults: addressing immigrant status, gender and place-based geographic disparities

  • Cloutier, Denise (Geography)
  • Penning, Margaret (Sociology)
  • Kobayashi, Karen (Sociology)
  • Ng, Amanda (Capital Regional District)
  • Pilot, Vicki (Seniors Serving Seniors)
  • Bossi, Christine (Sooke Region Communities Health Network)
  • Award: $33,970.25

Understanding and overcoming weight stigma in mental health training programs

  • Nutter, Sarah (Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies)
  • Stinson, Danu (Psychology)
  • Award: $30,476.75

Validation of artificial tissues as novel tools for screening drugs for Alzheimer's disease

  • Elvira, Katherine (Chemistry)
  • Willerth, Stephanie (Mechanical Engineering/Division of Medical Sciences)
  • Flannigan, Ryan (University of British Columbia)
  • Robinson, Meghan (Vancouver Prostate Cancer Centre)
  • Award: $34,000

Research Accelerator Fund

The Research Accelerator Fund (RAF) is a seed fund that will support and boost research at UVic. The first RAF campaign focused on COVID-19 research, supporting communities and aiding recovery. We accelerate recovery efforts through expertise, partnerships and infrastructure.

Total awarded in March 2021: $165,000

Characterizing risk factors for COVID and forecasting COVID infection counts

  • Zhang, Xuekui (Mathematics and Statistics)
  • Hofer, Scott (Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health)
  • Lesperance, Mary (Mathematics and Statistics)
  • Xu, Ke (Economics)
  • Lu, Tao (Electronical and Computer Engineering)
  • Shao, Xiaojian (National Research Council Canada)
  • Xing, Li (University of Saskatchewan)
  • Award: $15,000

Plant-based production of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins for serological testing of COVID-19

  • Constable, Peter (Biology)
  • Boraston, Alisdair (Biochemistry and Microbiology)
  • Zaharik, Michelle (bioLytical Inc.)
  • Award: $30,000

Staying apart together: leveraging assistive technologies to address the mental health needs of community-dwelling older adults and their care networks during and post COVID-19

  • Kobayashi, Karen (Sociology)
  • Cloutier, Denise (Geography)
  • Carroll, Simon (Sociology)
  • Paterson, Theone (Psychology)
  • Syme, Robin (CanAssist)
  • Saini, Manik (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Pakrasi, Sanjeet (Island Health)
  • Waterhouse, Dawn (Island Health)
  • McMillan, Tara (BC Support Unit Vancouver Island Centre)
  • Frederick, Rebecca (BC Care Providers Association)
  • Lalji, Kahir (United Way of the Lower Mainland)
  • Rodrigues, Lycia (Family Caregivers of BC)
  • Schlotterbeck, Marlene (caregiver)
  • Award: $30,000

Supporting healthy living among BC families during the COVID-19 recovery

  • Liu, Sam (Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education)
  • Rhodes, Ryan (Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education)
  • Naylor, Patti-Jean (Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education)
  • Warshawski, Tom (Childhood Obesity Foundation)
  • Day, Meghan (Government of British Columbia)
  • Award: $30,000

Understanding the adverse effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the brain

  • Swayne, Leigh Anne (Division of Medical Sciences)
  • Tremblay, Marie-Ève (Division of Medical Sciences)
  • Kobasa, Darwyn (National Microbiology Laboratory/Public Health Agency of Canada)
  • Award: $30,000

Understanding the psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian healthcare workers

  • Turner, Brianna (Psychology)
  • Paterson, Theone (Psychology)
  • Ashcroft, Rachelle (University of Toronto)
  • Okwengu, Mariam (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Smith, Barbara (BC Ministry of Health)
  • Shields, Rebecca (Canadian Mental Health Association)
  • Sur, Deepy (Ontario Association of Social Workers)
  • Rogers-Nannarone, Emily (Community Partner)
  • Tennant, Jodi (community partner)
  • Calloway, Kiana (community partner)
  • Vautour, Georgia (community partner)
  • Award: $30,000


After consulting academic leaders and research centre directors, we formed an advisory group in October 2018. The advisory group consulted widely with internal and external stakeholders throughout 2019. They engaged the UVic community through three well-attended town halls.

The concept paper, released in November 2019, is a result of the work done by the UHI advisory group. It recommends ways to unite health learners, educators and researchers under a common banner. It provides the foundation and guiding recommendations and strategies to advance the UHI.

Learn more

Share your feedback on the initiative via

  • Nathan Lachowsky, Special Advisor Health Research, chair
  • Tony Eder, Executive Director, Academic Resource Planning, co-chair
  • Lisa Kalynchuk, Vice-President Research and Innovation
  • Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey, Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning
  • Alexandre Brolo, Department of Chemistry
  • Caroline Cameron, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
  • Alexandra D'Arcy, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Humanities
  • Chris Dennison, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Scott Hofer, Director, Institute on Aging & Lifelong Health
  • Francis Lau, School of Health Information Science
  • Charlotte Loppie, School of Public Health and Social Policy
  • Robin Syme, Executive Director, CanAssist
  • Karen Urbanoski, School of Public Health and Social Policy
  • Jennifer Vornbrock, Executive Director, Community and Government Relations
  • Dr. Bruce Wright, Head, Division of Medical Sciences

Many of the most challenging global issues are directly or indirectly related to health or wellbeing.  Having a strong research and training presence in this area will ensure that UVic is contributing to global issues in a meaningful way.

Health research also brings in considerable resources that can have broad impact across the entire university. Building capacity in health research will significantly enhance UVic’s Tri-Agency revenues. This will not only benefit our researchers, but will also provide indirect benefits to UVic in a variety of ways, including allocations for Canada Research Chairs, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and Canada Graduate Scholarship - Masters Award.

July 29, 2021 – town hall – shared health research facility

November 9, 2020 – town hall - Centre for Biomedical Research

February 19, 2019 – town hall #1

April 2, 2019 – Town hall #2

June 12, 2019 – Town hall #3

This initiative aligns with key aspects of the Strategic Research Plan and the Strategic Framework. We are investing in areas of research strength that present opportunities for growth, maximum impact and further global prominence.

The UHI also guides us in defining strategic research priorities. It fits with the rankings and reputation initiative. The UHI also contributes to the graduate student recruitment and retention goal of the Strategic Enrolment Management initiative.