UVic Health Initiative (UHI)

The UVic Health Initiative (UHI) - formerly the Health Science Initiative (HSI) - is a joint activity of the Offices of the VP Research and VP Academic and Provost. It began in September 2018 with the goal of developing a set of strategies for enhancing the quality and raising the profile of health research, programs and related activities at UVic.

Funding announcements

We are pleased to announce the results of the UVic Collaborative Health Grants. This program is sponsored by the UVic Health Initiative to support projects across campus. The purpose of this funding opportunity is to stimulate team-based, interdisciplinary, health-related projects that are likely to have significant impact and that will advance the research pillar of the UVic Health Initiative.

Total awarded: $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 & Health Education)
Fisher, Kyle (Island Health)
Graham, Raquel (Institute on Aging & Lifelong Health)
Rush, Jonathan (Institute on Aging & 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 & 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 & Social Policy)
Pérez Piñán, Astrid (Public Administration)

Award: $34,000

Healthy 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 & 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

We are pleased to announce the first round of projects funded by the UVic Research Accelerator Fund (RAF). UVic’s RAF is a seed fund that will support and boost research at our university. The first RAF campaign focused on COVID-19 research that strives to make communities stronger and speed up recovery—locally and beyond. We accelerate recovery efforts through expertise, partnerships and infrastructure.

Total awarded: $165,000

Characterizing risk factors for COVID and Forecasting COVID infection counts

Zhang, Xuekui (Mathematics & Statistics)
Hofer, Scott (Institute on Aging & Lifelong Health)
Lesperance, Mary (Mathematics & 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 protein for serological testing of COVID-19

Constable, Peter (Biology)
Boraston, Alisdair (Biochemistrry & 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 B.C. families during the COVID-19 recovery

Liu, Sam (Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education)
Rhodes, Ryan (Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education)
Naylor, Patti-Jean (Exercise Science, Physical & 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

UVic Health Initiative Background

After consulting academic leaders and research centre directors, an advisory group was formed to advance the work. The advisory group consulted widely with both internal and external stakeholders over a period of approximately six months. Three well-attended townhalls engaged the UVic community as the work progressed. The resulting concept paper describes the work in more detail and provides a roadmap for next steps.

The concept paper

The concept paper (published Nov. 2019) recommends ways to unite health learners, educators and researchers under a common banner — “advancing lifelong health for all” — and outlines our goals and timelines to strengthen partnerships, increase funding for researchers, and create additional programming and funding opportunities for students.

Starting February 2021, Dr. Nathan Lachowsky (Associate Professor in Public Health and Social Policy) has joined the Initiative as the Special Advisor Health Research and will be chairing the Advisory Group.

Share your feedback on the initiative via .

Advisory group members

  • Dr. Nathan Lachowsky, Special Advisor Health Research, Chair
  • Tony Eder, Executive Director, Academic Resource Planning, Co-Chair
  • Dr. Lisa Kalynchuk, Vice-President Research & Innovation
  • Dr. Alexandre Brolo, Director of CAMTEC (Centre for Advanced Materials and Related Technology)
  • Dr. Caroline Cameron, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
  • Dr. Alexandra D'Arcy, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Humanities
  • Dr. Nikolai Dechev, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr. Robin Hicks, Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning
  • Dr. Scott Hofer, Director, Institute on Aging & Lifelong Health
  • Dr. Francis Lau, Health Information Science
  • Dr. Charlotte Loppie, School of Public Health and Social Policy
  • Dr. Ryan Rhodes, School of Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education
  • Robin Syme, Executive Director, CanAssist
  • Dr. 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

Why health?

Many of the most challenging global issues are directly or indirectly related to health or wellbeing.  Having a strong research presence in this area will ensure that UVic is contributing to global issues in a meaningful way. Health research is prestigious: top research universities in the world have strong health research enterprises across a broad range of fields, from medicine and biosciences to health ethics, environmental health, philosophy of health and disease to addressing mental health through the arts. Finally, health research brings in considerable resources that can have broad impact across the entire university. For example, the average CIHR 5-year project grant is worth 5x the average NSERC Discovery grant. Building capacity in health research will significantly enhance UVic’s Tri-Agency revenues, which not only benefits our researchers, but also provides indirect benefits to the institution through increased envelopes for CFI, CRC, the research support fund (indirect costs) and graduate student scholarships across all disciplines.

UVic already has strength in health research with more than 200 faculty who self-identify as health researchers. The goals of the initiative are to improve the structure for health research at UVic, provide a clear direction for future activities in this area, develop a central vision of health research and provide visibility inside or outside the university of our strengths including a strong desire for the development of outstanding health programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels. 

Townhall materials

July 29, 2021 - Shared Health Facility - town hall


November 9, 2020 - Townhall - CBR

February 19, 2019 - Townhall #1

April 2, 2019 - Townhall #2

June 12, 2019 - Townhall #3

Alignment with strategic priorities

This initiative aligns with key aspects of the Strategic Research Plan and the Strategic Framework, particularly in the areas of defining strategic research priorities and investing in areas of research strength that present opportunities for growth, maximum impact, and further global prominence.  It fits with the rankings and reputation initiative and the graduate student recruitment and retention goal of the Strategic Enrolment Management initiative. 

Completed meetings and consultations

Date Topics to be discussed
November 13, 2018
  • Introductions, ground rules for group
  • Scope of project
  • Process, site visits, timeline, survey, website, Consultations, townhalls
  • Discussion about how we define “health” at UVic
November 27, 2018
  • Health inventory - programs/research
  • Environmental Scans
  • Feedback from Deans, ADRs, Centre Directors
  • Finalize survey questions
December 11, 2018
  • Consultations
  • DMS faculty confirmed
  • Department heads confirmed
January 7, 2019
  • Consultations
  • HSD Directors
  • Health programs - Social determinants of Health/BME/Neuroscience
January 21, 2019
  • Consultations
  • BC support unit
  • Island health
February 4, 2019
  • Faculty survey results
  • Other external data - MoH, BC support unit
  • University of Saskatchewan/UNBC presentation
February 11,2019
  • Research pillar
February 19, 2019
  • Townhall everyone is welcome to attend
    • 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Medical sciences Building, Room 150.
March 4, 2019
  • Programs pillar
March 18, 2019
  • Structures pillar
April 1, 2019
  • Infastructure pillar
April 2, 2019
  • Townhall everyone is welcome to attend
    • 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Medical Sciences Building, Room 160
April to May 2019
  • Additional meetings
June-December 2019
  • Finalizing concept paper