Dr. Patrick McGowan

Dr. Patrick McGowan envisioned the Chronic Disease Self-management Program BC about 35 years ago to help people living with chronic diseases and has been a strong force behind it ever since. Dr. McGowan points out how a person with any type of chronic condition only interacts with a healthcare professional for no more than five to ten hours per year, which is not enough time to learn to deal with something they have to live with, possibly for rest of their life. Dr. McGowan recounts his experiences with assisting patients diagnosed with different types of arthritis during the early years of his career. These patients were doing everything advised by their health care professionals but showed no signs of improvement. Oddly, their abilities were deteriorating despite doing everything right.

Dr. McGowan acknowledges how the inability to take charge of one’s own health is often crippling, and with the upsurge in the number of people experiencing chronic health conditions, there is an imperative need for health education programs. He vividly recalls patients asking for skills to manage their own health, skills they can use for rest of the 364 and a half days a year they spend without direct guidance from health care professionals. “Educating people on how to manage their own health is about giving them the confidence and motivation to face the day-to-day challenges that come with chronic health conditions,” he says.

Determined to provide the patients affected by some type of chronic health condition autonomy over their own health, Dr. McGowan came across the self-management program at Stanford University while investigating the concept of self-management. He has been working collaboratively with Stanford University ever since to find better ways for his patients to maintain self-sufficiency.

The element that makes this program stand out among the sea of other health education programs is its peer delivery. It teaches them to be self-dependent while working alongside health care professionals.  These free, two-and–a-half-hour long workshops pair up two trained individuals with chronic conditions to deliver a six-session program to the group of 10-15 people. The purpose of the program is to teach them tools and techniques to better manage their condition on a daily basis.

Dr. McGowan’s vision to help those affected by chronic conditions received support from the BC Ministry of Health in 2002, which helped spread this program throughout the province. Every year Dr. McGowan and the staff at the Ladner satellite office offer approximately 300 of these programs to over 3000 people experiencing chronic health conditions throughout B.C. Once started as an education program to help people with arthritis, the program now covers conditions such as chronic pain, diabetes, and cancer. The program is available online and by telephone to accommodate people in rural areas, those who cannot leave their homes, and those who do not feel comfortable participating in a group. The program is taught in several different languages, including Punjabi and Chinese, and to aboriginal communities.

Along with assisting people in Germany, China and Brazil, and in other provinces around Canada, to adapt the programs to their own contexts, Dr. McGowan successfully evaluated the effectiveness of these programs in 15 randomized control and longitudinal studies. Dr. McGowan’s 35-year journey of finding and evaluating ways to assist people with chronic health conditions has helped thousands of people and continues to do so. 

Dr. Morgan Price

Dr. Morgan Price



Dr. Morgan Price is a family physician and practices in the inner city of Victoria with under-served populations. He completed his PhD in 2009 in Health Information Science, exploring improvements in continuity of care for end-of-life patients. He was the first lead faculty for informatics in the UBC Family Medicine Residency Program. He has held administrative positions, including as Medical Director for Primary Care for Island Health, and Medical advisor to Ministry of Health Services (MoHS) eHealth. He also been Principal Investigator on several successful clinical informatics design and research projects exploring clinical decision support, Electronic medical records (EMRs) adoption, personal health records, and medication information systems. 

Dr. Price’s areas of interest include the design and adoption research of clinical information systems, focused in primary care and consumer oriented information systems.

Can you please tell me more about your areas of interest?

Dr. P: I am very interested in how we can better design healthcare systems (both the social and technical aspects of systems) to improve experience for patients and providers and to improve outcomes.

As part of this, I like making things - models, user maps, user interfaces, apps, etc. That is why I have been drawn to Action Research and Participatory Action Research. 

What are the current projects you working on?

Dr. P: I work closely with Dr. Jens Weber in software engineering and we have had a number of projects together, including an ongoing research stream to evaluate and improve the OSCAR Electronic Medical Records. For example, we completed a randomized trial to look at how medication decision support reduces potentially inappropriate prescribing in the elderly. We have also completed a design research project that explored how to redesign the prescribing user interface. 

I am working on ePRO, as part of e-Health Innovation Partnership Program (eHIPP) with the Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health.

I have ongoing work on medication safety and adherence.

I recently finished up a multi-year project with Alberta Health evaluating the development of their province-wide personal health record.

Professional Affiliation:

  • Assistant-Professor- Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia
  • Adjunct Professor - Health Information Science, University of Victoria
  • Adjunct Professor- Computer Science and Health, University of Victoria
  • Affiliate – Medical Sciences Division, University of Victoria
  • Research Affiliate- Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health 

Areas of Research:

  • Health system improvements
  • Clinical informatics
  • E-Health: EMR, consumer eHealth, decision support
  • Safer medication management
  • Action research methods
  • Continuity of care

Dr. Ryan Rhodes

A new year often begins with the new resolutions and promises. However, we often find ourselves drifting away from all the promises we made the beginning of the year. The determination to be more active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is often on agendas but we often are guilty of not following them through. The gap between the determination to achieve that active lifestyle and actually maintaining it often leave us feeling disappointed. This intention-behaviour gap is one of the expertise of IALH’s associate director, Dr. Ryan Rhodes. According to him, despite knowing the benefits of physical activity, people often fail to comply with it. He studies this disconnect between intentions to engage in health behavior and subsequent failure to engage in it.

Dr. Rhodes is an exercise psychologist, a professor, and the Director of the Behavioural Medicine Lab (BMED) at the University of Victoria. With an intention to find ways to motivate people to be more active, he studies the psychology of physical activity and sedentary behavior. He is interested in determining the behavioral and psychological aspects of physical activity and population health. Dr. Rhodes research has shown that over half of people who form good exercise intentions fails to follow through. His research focuses on finding the ways to motivate people to become more active and link the intentions to actions.

Dr. Rhodes talked about how to turn these intentions into behaviour in his recent talk “How do I do it? Transforming my resolutions into exercise habits” . Dr. Rhodes pointed out how along with motivation to exercise, there is an equal need of regulation, making exercise a reflex, forming an identity around it in order to turn intention into a habit. Giving some tips on keeping it comfortable, Dr. Rhodes suggested making exercise a social activity and to pair it with some important daily activity to make it into reflex. He also suggests keeping it convenient that could fit into the schedule, monitor the success and taking an active action to solve problems when they arise.

Dr. Rhodes studies focus on how people can develop a better level of fitness and what that means for families and their lifestyle. Among many other endeavors, BMED lab, lead by Dr. Rhodes, will explore the formation of physical activity habits in the year 2017. The studies will examine whether physical activity can become a habit. According to Dr. Rhodes the physical activities promoting strategies focusing on educating on health benefits of physical activity attempts to build motivation. His studies will compare these approaches to habit formation focused on how one practices physical activity. 

Dr. Paul Zehr

Dr. Paul Zehr is a neuroscientist studying, among other things, how the nervous system controls the movements humans could make in their everyday lives. His passion for martial arts spurred his interest in science and on the path to kinesiology and neuroscience. Dr. Zehr’s research focuses on understanding neuromuscular plasticity; the ability of the human body to recover its activity after neurological traumas such as stroke. His study on arm and leg coordination during walking proves that despite humans being a bipedal organism, all four limbs get integrated during locomotion, where arms actively contribute to the neurological activity of legs and vice-versa (Zehr, Hundza, & Vasudevan, 2009). After using the quadrupedal-like coordination among human arms and legs in the interventions to successfully recover the lost functions in patients after a stroke (Dragert & Zehr, 2010), Dr. Zehr is currently looking at different ways to include different kind of sensory stimulations like electric impulses to enhance the effectiveness of arms and leg coordination during rehabilitation. According to Dr. Zehr, neural plasticity has no expiration date and understanding the quadrupedal like movement, role of the spinal cord in walking, and adaptive plasticity of nervous system could help in retraining the human nervous system after a damage, and enhancing its ability across all ages. Click here to read more about Dr. Zehr's research

Along with teaching kinesiology and neuroscience to undergraduate and graduate students, Dr. Zehr believes in communicating science to society in an approachable way. His books, Becoming Batman (2008), Inventing Iron Man (2011), Project Superhero (2014), and the forthcoming Creating Captain America (2018), uses superheroes as metaphors in explaining science without overwhelming the readers. The first two books of the superhero trilogy discuss the capability of a human body to possess the strength and powers like “superhuman” Batman and the possibility of inventing a real-life Iron Man suit to connect the human body and brain using modern-day technology. These books explore the possibility to amplify human abilities through right type of training and technology. His book Becoming Batman later formed the basis for the course “Science of Batman” at the University of Victoria. This undergraduate course, taken by students from science and non-science faculties, explores the human body and its adaptability through the life of Batman while discussing concepts like adaptation, aging, nutrition, concussion, steroids, potential and limitations of the human body. Through his books and course, Dr. Zehr builds the bridge between science and superhero fiction and approaches science in an interesting perspective using pop culture references. He considers sharing knowledge, busting myths and, sharing critical messages as an important part of his job as a scientist. He aims to introduce human biology, gene therapy, nanotechnology and its application in his upcoming book Creating Captain America. With the power to redefine what it means to be human today, Dr.  Zehr believes it's time for scientists to effectively communicate their research with the society and to have an open discussion about its implications.  

Whether you are a 13-year-old girl, an undergraduate or enthusiastic about science, Dr. Zehr has got your back. Along with being a regular speaker at conferences and comic conventions, he writes for The Science, Engineering, and Technology Magazine for Teenagers, Scientific American Online, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maxim, Popular Mechanics, Discover, Maclean’s magazines, and blogs at Scientific American and Psychology Today.