Thirty three research excellence clusters led by researchers on the Vancouver campus are currently funded through the Research Excellence Clusters Initiative. These clusters are inter-departmental networks of researchers at UBC who collectively represent leaders in a particular field of study.
Clusters are recognized as either established or emerging depending on multiple factors relating to their developmental stage and funding requirements.
The capabilities of innovative, transformative products will be shaped by the materials from which they are made. Tomorrow's complex products need to be safer, stronger and sustainable. This is one of the great scientific challenges of our time, where UBC has made a sustained, international contribution, anchored on digital manufacturing and advanced simulations of materials.
Cluster Lead: Warren Poole
BCRegMed seeks to enhance the research of regeneration or replacement of diseased cells and tissues using innovative technologies such as stem cells, engineered tissues, biomaterials, or molecules. Our community is focused on the development of treatments for a wide variety of life threatening illnesses with a specific focus on aging-related chronic conditions such as diabetes, burns, spinal cord injury, heart disease, and autoimmunity.
Cluster Lead: Fabio Rossi
The most remarkable feature of our planet is the diversity of its life forms, but this biodiversity is threatened by anthropogenic impacts, including climate change. The Biodiversity Research Cluster will identify global change impacts on biodiversity and offer solutions to challenges associated with these changes.
Cluster Lead: Loren Rieseberg
The BioProducts lnstitute's (BPI) goal is to accelerate the extraction of high value products like bio-materials, bio-energy and bio-chemicals from bio-based resources. BPI is an inter- and multi-disciplinary research team comprising of over 39 scientists, engineers, and market/policy experts that brings together the strengths of six of UBC's strategic research centres (CAWP, MSL, PPC, AMPEL, BRDF, CERC) in support of advancing bio-economy research and education.
Cluster Lead: Mark Martinez
The DASS cluster is creating a system-wide, data-driven solution to harness the power of "omics" biomarkers in optimizing health and minimizing disease. Our innovative and interconnected platforms for secure data collection and sharing, "multi-omics" analysis and integration, and real-world biomarker testing will enhance personalized diagnostic and therapeutic development for heart and lung diseases.
Cluster Lead: Bruce McManus
Designing for People (dfp.ubc.ca) takes a broadly multidisciplinary approach in people-centered design for interactive technologies, to address complex human-facing research and design problems requiring diverse viewpoints and methodologies deployed by integrated teams. An NSERC CREATE-funded training program launched in September 2017 is imparting this knowledge to a new generation of graduate students.
Cluster Lead: Karon MacLean
ForLives co-creates novel, grounded and interdisciplinary research in cooperation with global partners to support of our vision of a world where local, forest-led sustainable development drives human prosperity in a manner which sustains and protects forests - one of the world's most important resources.
Cluster Lead: Robert Kozak
Language is our quintessential human capacity, suffusing our communities, technology, and minds and bodies. Research in the Language Sciences helps us to better understand mind/body connections, transnationalism and sustainability, and language in the information economy. Language Sciences brings together language research, training, and community and industry engagement and promotes innovative, transformative research on the human condition.
Cluster Lead: Janet Werker
Despite their life-sustaining activities within us and throughout the environment, microbial communities, or microbiomes, remain poorly understood. The UBC Microbiome Research Network will build links between microbial ecology, evolution, and animal-associated microbiomes to change our understanding of the role of microbial communities in health, environmental balance, and parallels between them.
Cluster Lead: Steven Hallam
There are currently no disease-modifying therapies for 2.5 million Canadians suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The aim of The UBC Airway Centre is to address the growing burden of COPD and other airway conditions in BC and elsewhere by finding better diagnostics and therapies for patients.
Cluster Lead: Don Sin
Our research cluster aims to develop a deeper understanding of how molecular, cellular and tissue structure and organization relate to normal and diseased tissue function, by making use of vast amounts of data from multi-modal, multi-scale biomedical imaging, which we will collect/manage and interpret holistically through advanced artificial intelligence.
Cluster Lead: Tim Salcudean
Our aim is to create affordable and highly effective prosthetic devices. We will achieve this by combining expertise in sensors, artificial muscle, neural interfaces, 3D printing of plastics, metals, gels and cells, robotics, mechatronics, communications, signal processing, and rehabilitation.
Cluster Lead: John Madden
Trust in institutions and information systems has dropped dramatically in recent years. Blockchain technology has emerged as one solution to declining levels of trust, due to its potential as a digital trust infrastructure. Vancouver is a leading innovation ecosystem for blockchain technology, which Blockchain@UBC is helping to grow.
Cluster Lead: Victoria Lemieux
This research cluster gathers faculty and graduate students working on issues concerning groups marginalized on the basis of indigenous, racial, sexual-gender, and other social categories. The proposed activities consist of collaborations between critical theory and creative + performing arts designed to facilitate the elaboration of a program for transformative practices and theories of social justice.
Cluster Lead: Denise Ferreira da Silva
The Diabetes: From Beta Cells to Bedsides cluster will strengthen diabetes research in BC from the laboratory bench to clinical trial, across themes from cure-oriented diabetes research, to diabetes prevention, to diabetes complications.
Cluster Lead: Bruce Verchere
A central focus at UBC is the study of brain connections, including their dynamic changes during normal development and learning and how these connections become dysfunctional in neurological and neuropsychiatric disease. A map of the brain's vital wiring diagram (the "connectome") describes the structural and functional circuits connecting brain cells through specialized structures called synapses. Dynamic Brain Circuits-based research is a step towards developing circuit-based treatments for brain disease.
Cluster Lead: Timothy Murphy
Our aim is to fuse neuroscience and child learning research into one novel discipline: educational neuroscience. We will bring together researchers from previously independent disciplines (i.e., neuroscience, psychology, education) to create the UBC Research Cluster in Educational Neuroscience. This cluster will have a widespread impact on children, educators, families, and researchers, ultimately improving the educational experiences of children in BC and beyond.
Cluster Lead: Lara Boyd
The rise of populist nationalism, the spread of regimes with formally democratic features that coexist with authoritarianism, the backlash against human rights defenders, the attempt at suppressing the global surge of Indigenous protest: these are symptoms of global challenges facing democracy. What are the ways in which diverse practitioners and activists reimaglne more inclusive democracies and global institutions that enhance human rights and indigenous self-determination, and work towards overcoming these challenges?
Cluster Lead: Maxwell Cameron
The Hidden Costs of Global Supply Chains (HCGSC) cluster is an emerging cluster at UBC that brings together top global governance scholars, leading journalists and major media organizations. The HCGSC cluster is an action-based research partnership to engage communities, mobilize new knowledge, and facilitate policy response to the social and environmental impacts of global supply chains.
Cluster Lead: Peter Klein
We bring Western scientists and Indigenous people together to 'practice reconciliation' through equitable partnerships that investigate Indigenous histories and landscape use via the analysis of material culture. Our expertise in isotope and trace element geochemistry, spectroscopy, and archaeology will be applied to Indigenous-led research questions with practical implications for Indigenous communities.
Cluster Lead: Andrew Martindale
The UBC Migration Research Cluster explores the global challenge of international migration. Bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines and community organizations, this cluster examines the determinants and consequences of international migration, and focuses on the legal governance of migration and refugee flows, immigrant and refugee integration, and the relationship between immigration and national identity.
Cluster Lead: Antje Ellermann
The Origins of Balance Deficits and Falls Cluster's research aims to advance our understanding of the mechanistic principles of healthy balance control and the mechanisms that underlie balance deficits and falls. Our research will provide the foundation for developing improved clinical balance screening tools, effective therapeutic interventions and new technological advances to reduce the likelihood and impact of balance deficits and falls.
Cluster Lead: Mark Carpenter
It is estimated that 7 million Canadians suffer from debilitating pain on a daily basis. This pain is too often unrecognized, inadequately assessed, underestimated, and/or ineffectively controlled. The goal of the Pain Research Network is bring together investigators who work on pain, clinicians who treat pain, and patients who suffer from pain to identify better approaches for the management of pain in Canada. Investigators range from those in molecular biology and pharmaceutical sciences through those undertaking clinical investigations, others in the behavioural and social sciences and the humanities, and researchers in public health and health services delivery. Our major community engagement partner is Pain BC.
Cluster Lead: Brian Cairns
Physical activity promotes health and wellness but there is a need to move beyond the "one size fits all" approach. Through collaboration among researchers and key stakeholders, our cluster aims to transform how physical activities are prescribed, monitored, and implemented to promote health and wellbeing across the health continuum and lifespan.
Cluster Lead: Teresa Liu-Ambrose
Our 'inward facing' goal is to create a virtual, supportive, interdisciplinary environment that elevates aging research beyond what is possible within a sole discipline. Our 'outward facing' goal is to inform development of a healthy aging strategy for British Columbia and to provide input into Canada's national senior's strategy.
Cluster Lead: Joanie Sims-Gould
The common issue with rare diseases is the cost: many of these drugs, designated as "orphan drugs", are priced at hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for one patient. Our research cluster will host a meeting of international rare disease decision-makers to explore orphan drug reimbursement policies around the world with the goal of informing the development of better informed decision-making processes for Canada.
Cluster Lead: Larry Lynd
The distinctly human capacity for sophisticated rhythmic play is engaged in diverse musical traditions found the world over. The Rhythm Research Cluster will investigate three questions fundamental to our understanding of musical rhythm and rhythmic play: 1) How do the perceptual processes and cognitive limits governing human rhythmic behavior interact with musical creativity and expression? 2) What is the impact of technologies of musical coordination (from the metronome to the click track) upon our collective engagement with music as a temporal art? 3) What is the relationship between small-scale rhythmic variations (measureable at the millisecond level) and the embodied experience of musical motion? To pursue these questions, the cluster will bring together scholars from the fields of music theory, ethnomusicology, music cognition, and computational musicology, as well as practitioners from the applied fields of composition, performance, and music production.
Cluster Lead: Ève Poudrier
To address the growing prevalence and cost of chronic health conditions, STITCH creates and investigates advanced wearable devices that collect personalized information about our bodies and physical environments. This intelligent interface serves as a Second "Digital" Skin, designed by engineers and clinicians, to expand geography of care and improve outcomes.
Cluster Lead: Peyman Servati
Our team will be systematically identifying environmental injustices in Canada: patterns of pollution and other environmental hazards that fall disproportionately and unfairly on the shoulders of economically or socially vulnerable communities. Next, we will craft effective solutions to these problems and communicate these solutions to government decision-makers.
Cluster Lead: David Boyd
The Frail Young are children with complex, life-limiting conditions. They have a right to enjoy life, grow and learn to the full extent of their abilities. This cluster aims to create a new, national research agenda and interdisciplinary research teams to support excellent care for these children and their families.
Cluster Lead: Hal Siden
We wish to scale up a theatre project with Canadian veterans that looks at using the arts to address men’s mental health issues. Building on the success of Contact!Unload we aim to mobilize what we learned across Canada. In collaboration with counselors and professional theatre artists in four other Canadian cities, we wish to expand the reach of the project to veterans across the country.
Cluster Lead: George Belliveau
We are creating a research and outreach network for diversified agroecological farmers and researchers to improve sustainable food security and resilience of farming systems in North America. Our network will develop coordinated experiments and data management systems to build a global data set on diversified farming practices and socio-ecological services.
Cluster Lead: Hannah Wittman
The Dis/ability Arts, Culture & Public Pedagogy Cluster is composed of and by the Wingspan Collaborative at UBC, which is an intellectual ‘studio’ of interdisciplinary scholars in disability studies, arts, culture and public pedagogy across many disciplines who collaborate and establish research excellence on common projects regarding the rights of people with disabilities and who proactively promote the idea that while individual disabilities pose impairments, they should not be seen as deficits but instead as differences that enrich collective human experience and the arts. We identify variously as disabled, non-disabled or as artists who focus on disability aesthetics and linger in the liminal spaces between and among artist/researcher/teacher in the broadest sense of these terms, hence, we are Dis/A/R/Tographers in an unequal global world.
Cluster Lead: Leslie Roman
Research Clusters led by researchers at our Okanagan campus are funded through the Eminence Program.