Twenty-six research excellence clusters led by researchers on the Vancouver campus were funded through the Research Excellence Clusters initiative in 2020/21. 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 26 Research Excellence Clusters receiving funding through the 2019 Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters (GCRC) competition were selected in December 2019.
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 more 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
The BC Diabetes Research Network is a network of diabetes research experts who provide evidence-based information to the public, governments and community organizations, and connect and support researchers, clinicians and trainees to enhance their work. The network is focused on building a collaborative culture among people who want to dramatically decrease the impact of diabetes.
Cluster Lead: Bruce Verchere
The British Columbia Regenerative Medicine Initiative (BCRegMed) supports the coalescence of academic, industry and government entities to foster collaborative activities within the BC regenerative medicine community. The group aims to engage and mobilize the scientific and entrepreneurial community in BC to facilitate the translation and commercialization of basic discoveries.
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
Our Grand Challenge is to develop a deeper understanding of how molecular, cellular and tissue structure and organization relate to normal and diseased tissue function. To address this challenge, we will make use of vast amounts of data from multi-modal, multi-scale biomedical imaging, which we will collect/access, manage and interpret holistically through advanced artificial intelligence. This understanding will help alleviate pressures on health care systems by enabling effective, personalized medicine.
Cluster Lead: Tim Salcudean
The Bionics Network aims to improve quality of life by combining microfabrication, additive manufacturing and biofabrication with smart materials and computing to create human-interfacing devices on the skin and in the body. Current projects include sensing skin for prosthetic limbs, novel cell- and tissue-printing methods and smart materials-based artificial muscle in human-assist devices. We are also exploring new approaches to reconnecting the nervous system.
Cluster Lead: John Madden
Designing for People supports multidisciplinary, human-centered research and design of interactive technologies to address complex problems requiring diverse viewpoints and methodologies. Its many pathways include an NSERC CREATE graduate training program, a popular seminar series and annual Design Showcase, as well as focused collaboration development, outreach and translation support.
Cluster Lead: Karon MacLean
The Diversified Agroecosystems Research Cluster uses trans-disciplinary methods to create actionable science to achieve sustainable agriculture that can feed the world while cooling the planet, protecting biodiversity and promoting food sovereignty. Our network brings together leading researchers worldwide to create novel, next-generation, grassroots generated and open-access scientific knowledge to support sustainable agroecosystems.
Cluster Lead: Hannah Wittman
The Gynecologic Cancer Initiative (GCI) will accelerate transformative research and translational practice on prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship of reproductive cancers. This will be done in collaboration with women throughout BC and through synergistic partnering of research institutions, scientists and clinicians to reduce the incidence and mortality of these cancers by 50 per cent in the next 15 years.
Cluster Lead: Gavin Stuart
Our research examines the social exposome, or the cumulative social exposures over the life-course that influence development and health from conception onward. The cluster adopts a "society to cell" approach to uncover the relationships among the cellular, environmental and social influences that impact development and lead to persistent disparities within our society.
Cluster Lead: Michael Kobor
Migration presents complex challenges and opportunities for governments, societies and the international community. Bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines, UBC Migration seeks to understand and engage in debate about the causes, consequences and experiences of global human mobility through research, education and outreach.
Cluster Lead: Antje Ellermann
Quantum computing is the next wave of fundamental science poised to revolutionize human experience. We want to discover and create the technology on which quantum computations will be run in the next two decades. The challenge is to produce a universal quantum computer that is demonstrably scalable and which also achieves a practical quantum advantage over classical computers.
Cluster Lead: Lukas Chrostowski
Every day, 50 Canadians will suffer a sudden unexpected death. Unfortunately only five or six will get appropriate, rapid CPR and defibrillation to get the heart pumping again and then care in hospital that will help the brain recover from the period without blood flow prior to restarting the heart. We will pull together a research team of patients, clinicians, engineers, sociologists and basic scientists to improve the weak links in the chain of survival to at least double the number of survivors who return home.
Cluster Lead: Jim Christenson
Wingspan 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 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. We perform inclusion and accessibility through the first Canadian Dis/Deaf artist-residency program now scaling from BC to two-three other Wing Provinces. Through public pedagogies, we ask: what do inclusion and accessibility mean to our schools and NGO's, post the 2019 Accessible Canada Act and to the dis/Deaf artists and the students and dis/Deaf artists who provide leadership through the program. What and how can we learn from the voices of students and artists with disabilities?
Cluster Lead: Leslie Roman
Action on Sepsis fosters cross-cutting collaborations in biology, medicine, social determinants, policy, and public health to effectively prevent, diagnose, and manage the deadly condition of sepsis. Establishing diverse and inclusive partnerships is key to creating innovative, targeted interventions that will minimize death and disability, and improve outcomes for people with sepsis in BC and across the globe.
Cluster Lead: Mark Ansermino
A crisis has emerged in housing in many parts of the country, especially in major urban centres, with rampant homelessness and significant mismatches between housing costs and average incomes. In search for solutions, we frame our research cluster around the central goal of creating a balanced supply of housing, and what that would mean for housing policies and programs. Two interconnected sub-themes guide our research: reshaping financialization of housing; and innovating in responsive land practices.
Cluster Lead: Penny Gurstein
In response to recent shortages and alarming declines of wild and managed bee populations, the BeeHIVE cluster explores the honeybee's role as a pollinator, producer and biomonitor. Using innovative fingerprinting tools, we seek to understand how these critical functions are impacted by environmental exposures (both natural and human-caused), with the common goal of improving the fate of the honeybee.
Cluster Lead: Dominique Weis
Many of the most significant challenges of our times (e.g., the climate emergency, the retirement savings crisis, etc.) are, in large part, the result of the countless individual decisions we each make and repeat every day. To tackle these challenges, we must improve our understanding of decision-making and help people make better choices for themselves and the world.
Cluster Lead: Jiaying Zhao
A fundamental challenge within neuroscience is to understand behaviour through connectomics, a knowledge of molecular and cellular information mapped onto the pathways that connect brain cells together. A central focus for neuroscientists at UBC is the study of brain connections, including their dynamic changes during normal development and learning and how these connections become dysfunctional in neuropsychiatric disease.
Cluster Lead: Timothy Murphy
Ensuring equitable, safe, and resilient water systems for societies and ecosystems is a priority challenge globally—requiring research across disciplines (e.g., engineering, ecology, health, policy, law, art). UBC has some of the world’s leading scholars on water-related research. Water connects all living things, reflects memory and culture, is crucial to community sustainability, and expresses the fundamental need of human and natural systems to thrive under global change. We propose strengthening our nascent water network to leverage our research efforts, develop new training opportunities and consolidate UBC’s international water research profile.
Cluster Lead: John Richardson
How we understand and engage with the past is the result of constant negotiation with the present. This research cluster brings together scholars from diverse disciplines to work collaboratively on projects that explore our shared and contested pasts, and their implications for the present.
Cluster Lead: Anne Murphy
The internationally-based Reducing Male Suicide (RMS) emergent team will address men's mental health inequities, optimize men's mental health help-seeking experiences, and equip community-based and professional mental health care services to expertly evaluate and treat men's mental illnesses and suicidality through 3 themes: Focusing on health inequities for at risk male sub-groups; understanding the experiences of men who seek, and general practitioners who provide, mental health care; and describing relationships between men's mental illnesses (including depression) and suicide risk.
Cluster Lead: John Oliffe
STITCH is a multidisciplinary research cluster focusing on developing advanced, flexible and stretchable miniaturized wearable devices that can revolutionize tele-rehabilitation, treatment of neurological and chronic diseases, injury prevention for athletes, smart clothing and implantable and surgical devices.
Cluster Lead: Peyman Servati
Through the performance and study of unconventional scores by Indigenous artists, this cluster engages with decolonization by challenging existing sonic, physical and conceptual frames of Indigenous and settler–colonial knowledge. The artistic and scholarly exploration of the scores, beginning with the Soundings exhibition, aims to enrich UBC’s cultural institutions and strengthen relationships across UBC campuses, Musqueam territory and international borders.
Cluster Lead: David Metzer
The Transformative Health & Justice Research Cluster (THJRC) is a network identifying priority areas for research, program and policy development to be advanced through interdisciplinary, intersectoral, participatory, arts- and strengths-based engagement that centers people with lived experience of incarceration. There is an urgent need for research to address the complex barriers that systematically undermine and reproduce health, social and criminal justice inequities beyond the institutional context.
Research Clusters led by researchers at our Okanagan campus are funded through the Eminence Program.