Connections >> November 2013

21 November 2013

Connections is MSFHR’s monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we’ve funded.

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In this issue:




Scholar award competition to launch November 29

MSFHR is pleased to announce that a funding competition for Scholar Awards will launch Friday, November 29.

The 2013/14 Scholar Award Program is open to new investigators who are within five years of their first appointment [1] (at an Assistant Professor level or equivalent) as of the competition deadline. Applicants must have an appointment at an eligible [2] BC institution by July 1, 2014.

Full competition details and application instructions will be posted to MSFHR’s website on November 29. At that time, applicants will be able to access the MSFHR ApplyNet system. Letters of intent must be submitted by January 28, 2014, and full applications are due February 28, 2014.


  1. Appointment refers to a position that allows the applicant/MSFHR Scholar to apply for and hold peer-reviewed funds as a principal investigator; to be a research supervisor for graduate and post-graduate trainees; and to publish their research results.
  2. Eligible BC institution is one that has a Memorandum of Understanding with MSFHR.

Team selected to write SPOR business plan

An expert team that will help develop the business plan for BC’s SPOR SUPPORT Unit has been selected following a rigorous review and interview process.

The business plan writing team is composed of Stirling Bryan, Heather Harris, Scott Lear, and Sonia Singh (click for bios and affiliations), each of whom possesses multiple strengths that span the functional areas of the SUPPORT Unit – data platforms, real-world clinical trials, and knowledge translation/implementation science. The team’s composition was approved unanimously November 8 by the SPOR initiative’s Interim Governing Council.

To ensure the team has access to the broadest range of expertise and experience in the multi-faceted clinical trials area, Heather Harris will work with a sub-committee consisting of Aslam Anis, Bruce Carleton, and Stuart Turvey. Similarly, to ensure the team benefits from appropriate expertise and experience with data platforms, Stirling Bryan will work with Kim McGrail of Population Data BC. Patient representatives from the Interim Governing Council will work with the team to help determine a mechanism for patient engagement in the development of the business plan.

Validation workshop confirms health research strategy on track

The November 7 health research strategy workshop drew nearly 60 people from many different sectors. Through interactive exercises, the participants helped prioritize and refine the draft vision, directions and actions. The general consensus was that the strategy is on the right track, but participants provided valuable feedback on how to make it better.

The health research strategy core team is now working with that feedback to incorporate it into a final draft of the strategy that will be presented to the health research strategy advisory board in January. As well, the team is working on a summary report for the November 7 workshop that will be made available on the health research strategy website (, along with copies of the other reports stemming from the BC health research strategy consultation activities.

Partner profile: BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation

More than 40,000 British Columbians — roughly one in 100 — are living with schizophrenia, a neurological disorder that distorts the senses and impairs cognition, making it difficult to distinguish what is real from what is not.

To mitigate schizophrenia’s human and economic toll, and to help patients reap the benefits of modern treatments, MSFHR is proud to partner with the BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation to support leading-edge research.

In 2013, this partnership jointly funded two post-doctoral research trainees (Dr. Anita Cote and Dr. Alfredo Ramos-Miguel) working to improve our knowledge of schizophrenia in pursuit of better treatment options.

Partnership bolsters neurological research

MSFHR is pleased to partner with Brain Canada to support new research aimed at improving our understanding of the nervous system and its impact on health.

As part of Brain Canada’s newly announced Multi-Investigator Research Initiative (MIRI) grants, MSFHR will contribute $300,000 over three years to support two projects led by BC-based investigators. UBC researcher Dr. Neil Cashman will lead an investigation of protein misfolding in amyothropic lateral sclerosis; Dr. Terrance Snutch, also of UBC, will study neuronal hyper-excitability as an underlying mechanism common to many brain disorders, including epilepsy, migraine, and autism.

Science policy fellowship applications open until December 16

Health researchers and trainees looking to gain real-world experience in policy-making have until December 16 to submit their applications for 2013 Science Policy Fellowships.

The 2013 Science Policy Fellowships program invites researchers from all areas of health to apply for a six to 12 month placement in a policy setting, where they will work as part of a policy team. Fourteen policy assignments are available in the BC Ministry of Health, Island Health, the BC First Nations Health Authority, and Interior Health. Details of these policy assignments are listed on MSFHR’s website.

For an inside look at the program, check out this interview with Noreen Kamal, the first recipient of an MSFHR/CIHR Science Policy Fellowship.


Spark is a new blog dedicated to issues and outcomes in British Columbia’s health research community. We are proud to feature new content every Friday contributed by BC researchers working across a broad range of health disciplines. Below is a selection of posts from the past month.

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