Forty research excellence clusters led by researchers on the Vancouver campus will be funded through the Research Excellence Clusters initiative in 2022/23. 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 40 Research Excellence Clusters funded in 2022/23 includes 13 clusters in the second year of their current award. Funding is awarded through Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters (GCRC) competitions.
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
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 most remarkable feature of our planet is the diversity of its life forms, but this biodiversity is threatened by anthropogenic impacts, including climate change and ocean acidification. The Biodiversity Research Cluster will identify global change impacts on biodiversity and suggest ways in which such changes can be ameliorated.
Bionics Network research combines nature and technology to improve quality of life. We align materials within injured spinal cords to guide axon regrowth; develop implantable sensors; and give robots and prostheses a sense of touch. This is achieved by bringing together expertise in engineering, materials chemistry, biology, medicine, ethics and translation.
Cluster Lead: John Madden
Individual decisions are a critical part of both the causes and solutions for our most urgent societal and planetary challenges (e.g., the climate crisis, income inequality, and decolonization). DIBS uses decision science to better understand decision-making, encourage long-term behaviour change, and work toward an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable future.
Cluster Lead: Jiaying Zhao
Designing for People supports interdisciplinary, 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 Dynamic Brain Circuits in Health and Disease cluster seeks mechanistic insight into normal and dysfunctional brain circuits across illnesses and injuries. We accelerate these insights by strengthening the collaborative research environment: through local and international workshops and courses, all faculty, staff, and trainees gain access to infrastructure and technology training in addressing questions around brain circuit function by embracing modern data-driven methodologies.
Cluster Lead: Timothy Murphy
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
The Reducing Male Suicide Cluster aims to de-stigmatize men’s suicidality by engaging in three areas of focus: 1) Men’s mental health inequities; 2) The experiences of men who seek, and clinicians who provide, mental health care and; 3) Connecting men’s relationships, mental illnesses (including anxiety and depression) and suicide risk.
Cluster Lead: John Oliffe
37,000 Canadians suffer sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) each year. Only 5-7% return home. BC Resuscitation Research Collaborative (RESURECT) aims to improve survival in BC. Our efforts are far reaching through CanSAVE by developing recognition technology, improving rapid community response, and understanding how to minimize the effects of SCA on brain function.
Cluster Lead: Jim Christenson
The Social Exposome Cluster facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations to examine the social and environmental factors that have lasting impacts on our health and well-being and the biological processes in the body by which they do so (referred to as “biological embedding”). The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to develop and implement policies and interventions to reduce health inequities and improve health outcomes across the life course.
Cluster Lead: Michael Kobor
We are an interdisciplinary, cross-sectional and peer network catalyzing research on health and social inequity related to social exclusion, violence, trauma, stigmatization, colonialism, racism, and poverty that is deeply bound to criminalization, over-incarceration and post-release reintegration outcomes. Our studies are peer-led, multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary to address the complex and intersecting impacts of criminal legal system inequities across health and social service fields during and following incarceration.
The Research-based Theatre Collaborative provides researchers with creative modes of inquiry and knowledge exchange through the use of theatre-based approaches. Research-based Theatre is an innovative, arts-based methodology that dramatizes data to stimulate dialogue and foster new understandings about critical social issues.
Cluster Lead: George Belliveau
The Women’s Health Research Cluster is a network of women’s health researchers and stakeholders that are interested in how sex and gender play a role in health outcomes. We work towards creating a future where women can live equitably healthy lives by promoting, expanding, and catalyzing impactful research on women’s health.
Cluster Lead: Liisa Galea
Angiotensin receptor blockers are well-established anti-hypertensive medications with a long list of therapeutic effects in non-blood pressure-related diseases. The multi-Centre, tri-Faculty UBC Advanced Angiotensin Therapeutics Network (AATHEN) was created to facilitate collaborations aimed at optimizing the pleiotropic properties of angiotensin receptor blockers and develop non-blood pressure lowering analog compounds.
Cluster Lead: Pascal Bernatchez
This emerging research cluster positions UBC as a centre of excellence in equity-oriented global mental health research focused on the Asia-Pacific region. The cluster brings together interdisciplinary researchers and stakeholders at UBC, in Canada, and internationally to collaborate on community-engaged research, innovative approaches to knowledge exchange and advancing best practices for equitable mental health, including via the use of digital technologies.
Cluster Lead: Raymond Lam
The “Advancing Multifunctional Dental Biomaterials” Research Cluster goal is to develop and advance multifunctional antimicrobial dental materials tailored to selectively manage oral pathogens associated with common and highly prevalent diseases. The multidisciplinary team includes experts in Engineering, Chemistry, Microbiology, and Dental Materials Sciences situated in Canada and the United States.
Cluster Lead: Adriana Manso
Our vision is to develop an interdisciplinary research agenda among clinical, social and epidemiologic scientists that will catalyze research, research training, practice and policy aimed at promoting physiologic birth. The long-term goal of our network will be to develop a Canadian Institute of Normal Birth Research.
Cluster Lead: Patti Janssen
Ars Scientia aims to bring the creative arts and natural sciences together to foster new modes of knowledge exchange and collaborative research outcomes. Ars Scientia will engage diverse audiences and lead to a shared language through which to explore and describe the space beyond the limits of conventional understanding.
Cluster Lead: Andrea Damascelli
The BC Pediatric Eating Disorders Cluster (BC-PED) brings together clinicians, researchers, and community partners to establish a provincial network focused on research on eating disorders in children and youth. Cluster goals include engaging in provincial and national initiatives to improve care for eating disorders.
Cluster Lead: Jennifer Coelho
The research of this cluster will lead to the creation of educational resources that support settler-clinicians to confront colonialism in health care by moving beyond tokenistic and symbolic approaches to reconciliation, and toward deeper forms of accountability, in order to ultimately support the improved health and well-being of Indigenous peoples.
Cluster Lead: Cash Ahenakew
This transdisciplinary research cluster prioritizes knowledge exchange, training and mentorship for action-oriented health equity research. We focus on measurement of equity, safety and respect in perinatal services; co-creation of accountability systems; and expanding representation in the perinatal research workforce. We rely on strong partnerships with service users with lived experiences of care from preconception through pregnancy, birth and early parenting.
Cluster Lead: Saraswathi Vedam
The Climate Change Health Effects, Adaptation, and ResiLience (HEAL) cluster aims to understand the compounding health effects of extreme weather events caused by climate change. Using a research-to-action approach, we plan to partner with stakeholders to develop adaptation interventions that create co-benefits for protection and prevention.
Cluster Lead: Chris Carlsten
Climate Justice Partnerships facilitate collaboration between frontline communities experiencing climate impacts and the UBC research community. As a research arm of the Centre for Climate Justice, this trans-disciplinary collaborative conducts community-driven research focused on unequal impacts of warming, and develops innovative policy responses to advance equitable and just climate action.
Cluster Lead: Naomi Klein
Recognizing that microplastics can adversely impact ecological and human health, global food security and economy, the cluster will tackle research gaps and accelerate knowledge exchange on microplastics pollution towards informing timely science-based mitigation solutions and policies for the preservation of environment, global biodiversity and human well-being.
Cluster Lead: Maite Maldonado-Pareja
The UBC Disaster Resilience Research Network intends to build transdisciplinary connections and identify shared research goals to inform disaster risk reduction policy and decision making at community and governance levels. The cluster aims to advance multi-hazard assessment and mitigation in support of an inclusive and equitable development of just disaster risk management.
The UBC Future Minerals Working Group will bring together researchers and non-academic partners to re-imagine the global mineral resource sector. Drawing on expertise in Earth sciences and engineering, law, economics and public policy, we seek to drive technical innovation and reframe the social, and environmental context of mineral resources.
Cluster Lead: Philippe Tortell
The goal is to develop a community focused on designing and developing next-generation immunotherapeutics to promote health and prevent and treat disease. We will create a research-to-practice continuum that facilitates this process by linking basic researchers with clinical disease specialists, industry partners and health-care policy experts.
We aim to implement interdisciplinary, inclusive, and collaborative approaches into current research practices impacting Indigenous people. In addition, we seek to strengthen community engagement based on reciprocal and respectful relations, bring Indigenous people's voices and knowledge into research, advance Indigenous research sovereignty and transform theory, methodology, and practice of academic research.
Cluster Lead: Eduardo Jovel
MATRIX-N seeks to bridge gaps between research, clinical practice, and patient needs to facilitate innovative solutions to global mental health challenges. The cluster will create new multidisciplinary collaborations between foundational and clinical researchers to increase the translational power of neuropsychiatry research into novel pharmacotherapies and ensure more cost-effective, clinically-relevant drug development processes.
Cluster Lead: Anthony Phillips
Memories of political violence are often conceptualized as a documentation of, and challenge to, silenced pasts. A collective of scholars, artists and practitioners, we reconsider memory as a generative force to challenge oppressive presents and re-imagine ways of being together through reciprocal, emplaced and digital knowledge exchanges.
Sport-related social and environmental problems sometimes ‘fly under the radar’ because of the unique contexts that sport presents. Sport also has unique potential for addressing these same problems. The Mobilizing Sport & Sustainability Collective explores and raises awareness about these problems and possibilities – and considers especially the utility and misuses of the notion of ‘sustainability’ in and around sport. The Collective operates in association with UBC’s Centre for Sport and Sustainability.
Cluster Lead: Brian Wilson
The Precision Medicine in Transplantation cluster will draw together leading researchers from various departments and faculties within UBC to develop a world-class, international transplant program to advance expertise in laboratory, clinical and therapeutic aspects of both solid organ and stem cell transplantation.
Cluster Lead: Paul Keown
The Relational Technologies research cluster brings collaborative interdisciplinary teams together to support community-led cultural survivance through immersive and interactive storytelling. Partnerships among community-based research leads, technical experts at and beyond UBC, and campus venues for knowledge exchange will focus on emergent digital tools and technologies for mapping, gaming, and curating stories.
Vision allows us to connect to each other, navigate the world and promote societal change. The Vision Research Cluster is a network of vision and technical experts focused on new foundational discoveries to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of eye and brain disorders by state-of-the-art methods in engineering, AI, neuroimaging, telemedicine, proteomics and super-resolution microscopy.
Cluster Lead: Joanne Matsubara
TrustML facilitates the development of trustworthy machine-learning-based systems, i.e., systems that are reliable, secure, explainable, and ethical. The cluster will examine trust-related requirements in several life-critical domains, including medicine and aerospace, and will investigate solutions for building trustworthy systems that professionals and the general public can reliably adopt.
Cluster Lead: Julia Rubin
This research cluster is centred on UBC’s newly acquired copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The cluster seeks to catalyze research collaborations, interdisciplinary partnerships, artistic creations, and community engagement, ensuring that the First Folio will be a valuable research tool, pedagogical tool, and a site for public engagement.
Cluster Lead: Hallie Marshall
The Wild Berry Research Cluster aims to build relationships and facilitate a respectful dialogue around science focused on edible wild berries traditionally used as food and/or medicine. Our goal is to implement a community-driven participatory knowledge transfer plan to work with Indigenous communities.
Cluster Lead: Tamara Cohen
Research Clusters led by researchers at our Okanagan campus are funded through the Eminence Program.