Medical research gets grant injection

University of British Columbia health scientists have received research grants and training awards worth almost $10.3 million from the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC).

"This level of funding is vitally needed to help UBC scientists work toward preventing and curing disease," says Janet Werker, associate vice-president, Research. "We're pleased that the MRC is recognizing the important work being done here."

UBC saw 34 of the 66 projects it submitted approved for funding.

Research projects funded involve scientists from a wide range of disciplines including medical genetics, zoology, nursing, psychiatry and oral biology. They will be studying medical challenges such as salmonella, cancer and Parkinson's as well as conducting spinal cord repair research.

Learning how diverse ethnocultural populations experience hospitalization and other institutional care in the Lower Mainland is the focus of Nursing Prof. Joan Anderson's research, which received funding.

"Communication in health-care situations can be challenging," says Anderson. "Our goal is to improve the effectiveness of health care by ensuring that it is culturally responsive "

The study will identify cultural and linguistic issues patients and health-care providers are dealing with, such as an inability to describe symptoms or understand care instructions.

UBC ranks among the four top funded research universities in Canada with McGill University, the University of Toronto and University of Montreal. Most of the funding is in the form of operating grants which support individual researchers' efforts for a one- to five-year period.

Graduate student investigators secured three fellowships valued at more than $230,000 over three years. Fellowships are awarded to students undertaking full-time health research training leading to a master's or PhD degree.

UBC research has resulted in 78 spin-off companies and accounts for more than 20 per cent of the university spin-offs created in Canada.

MRC funds are granted on the basis of rigorous peer review of applications. Peer review is carried out by hundreds of leading scientists from Canada and other countries who volunteer their expertise.

A list of the MRC grant recipients at UBC and a brief summary of their projects can be found at the MRC Web site at