Thirty-nine research excellence clusters led by researchers on the Vancouver campus will be funded through the Research Excellence Clusters initiative in 2023/24. 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 39 Research Excellence Clusters funded in 2023/24 includes 16 clusters in the second year of their current award. Funding is awarded through Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters (GCRC) competitions.
Sepsis occurs when an infection results in vital organ damage, and can result in death or disability. Sepsis has huge clinical, social, economic, and political impacts. Thus reducing the impact of sepsis cannot be achieved without cross-cutting, interdisciplinary collaborations. Action on Sepsis fosters diverse and inclusive partnerships across biology, medicine, population and public health, and policy to effectively prevent, diagnose, and manage the deadly condition of sepsis. We aim to create 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
BCREGMED is a multi-disciplinary research initiative comprised of world-class scientists, clinicians, and industry partners. Since our inception, we have catalyzed unique collaborations and opportunities for our community. We are dedicated to identifying and removing barriers to regenerative medicine, and accelerating innovative research towards translational outcomes.
Cluster Lead: Fabio Rossi
Biodiversity is the greatest show on Earth, essential to ecosystems, economic systems, food security, and human health. Its deterioration has spurred global efforts to stem its decline. The BRC Cluster pursues a common goal: to understand anthropogenic impacts on the biosphere and their policy, conservation and societal implications. We propose a comprehensive program to measure biodiversity change, link science and economics of biodiversity loss, develop methods for biodiversity data and prediction, and provide advanced training. The project culminates in a proposal to develop a Biodiversity Knowledge Centre to serve as a flagship in BC for biodiversity change science and collaboration.
Cluster Lead: Mary O'Connor
The goal of the Bionics Network is to develop safe, user-friendly materials and devices, both wearable and implantable, that improve health and well-being by performing preventative, restorative, and assistive functions. This is achieved by bringing together engineers, clinicians, and the consumer community.
Cluster Lead: Karen Cheung
The UBC Centre for Migration Studies promotes collaborative, interdisciplinary, intersectoral, and transformative research that advances our understanding of the causes, consequences, and experiences of human mobility, both within and across borders. As a community of scholars and practitioners, we work together to advance and decolonize the study and understanding of migration and belonging and to facilitate publicly engaged dialogue that fosters inclusive and just communities.
Cluster Lead: Antje Ellermann
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
DFP's goal as a research cluster is to find creative, ‘out of the box’ solutions to complex, real-world, human-oriented technology design problems through interdisciplinary, collaborative research and knowledge exchange that engages researchers, industry partners and students, making Vancouver the go-to place for human centered design (HCD). Our research and training methods and practices are grounded in justice, equity, diversity and inclusion principles. Bringing our unique perspectives, DFP aims to be an enduring UBC asset that anchors major cross-campus and transnational HCD partnerships and provides essential structure for cross-faculty HCD training.
Cluster Lead: Karon MacLean
The Dynamic Brain Circuits in Health and Disease cluster seeks mechanistic insight into normal and dysfunctional brain circuits across nervous system illnesses and injuries. We accelerate these insights by strengthening the collaborative research environment through networks of peer tutors that support local and international workshops and the development of new course material. Emerging neuroscience tools include expanded tissue microscopy and fully synthetic model brains and organisms that help inform and guide therapeutics. Through these efforts all faculty, staff, and trainees gain access to physical infrastructure and technology training in addressing questions around brain circuit function that embrace data-driven methodologies.
Cluster Lead: Tim Murphy
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
The Transformative Health and Justice Research Cluster is a peer-led, interdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral research network catalyzing equity-oriented studies at the interface of health and justice. We apply strength-based research approaches for decolonizing, anti-stigmatizing, and culturally safe engagement, policy development, and community advocacy for and with people who are impacted by the criminal legal system.
Cluster Lead: Helen Brown
The Women’s Health Research Cluster (WHRC) is a network of women’s health researchers and stakeholders that are interested in how sex and gender influence health outcomes. We work towards creating a future where women can live equitably healthy lives across the lifespan by promoting, expanding, and catalyzing impactful research on women’s health.
Cluster Lead: Elizabeth Rideout
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
The Accelerated Translational Opioid Research Cluster (ATORC) aims to mobilize clinicians and foundational scientists to develop innovative pharmaceutical and diagnostic solutions to frontline challenges in the opioid epidemic. The ultimate goals of this work centre around developing broadly accessible tools and technologies that will impact the opioid crisis. ATORC research projects are motivated by addressing the needs of frontline addiction and pain management clinicians and are collaboratively executed by leading UBC Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences research groups.
Cluster Lead: Glenn Sammis
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
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
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. One in every two Canadians will receive a cancer diagnosis. Despite improvements in treatment these trends will remain as the Canadian population ages. Given the scale of the cancer burden, cancer control must move beyond treatment to emphasize prevention. The cancer prevention cluster will:
- Create a network of researchers, practitioners and stakeholders to enhance the landscape of cancer prevention in BC and beyond;
- Conduct interdisciplinary research to generate cancer prevention evidence, moving evidence into policy and practice;
- Focus cancer prevention on priority populations to reduce cancer inequities.
Cluster Lead: Trevor Dummer
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 Collaborative Entity for ceREBrovasculaR Ischemia (CEREBRI) is an emerging cluster comprised of multidisciplinary health professionals, clinician-scientists, health policy-makers, neuroscientists, UBC academic Faculty of Medicine Departments / Divisions as well as patient & family partners who are collectively focused on improving the clinical outcomes of British Columbians with diseases emanating from cerebral ischemia. The cluster will focus its main research themes on creating new and novel projects that are based upon forging breakthroughs in the diagnosis, management and understanding the pathophysiology of cerebral ischemia based diseases in humans.
Cluster Lead: Mypinder Sekhon
The Climate Change Health Effects, Adaptation, and resiLience (HEAL) cluster is an interdisciplinary research excellence group that aims to understand the health effects of extreme weather events caused by climate change and develop adaptive solutions through an integrated knowledge translation lens.
Cluster Lead: Chris Carlsten
Climate Justice Partnerships facilitate collaboration between frontline communities experiencing climate impacts and the UBC research community. 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. Building on our first year as a Cluster in 2022, our research partnerships and public engagement in 2023 focus on three themes:
- Indigenous-led climate action and planning;
- green reparations; and
- climate justice and human rights.
Cluster Lead: Naomi Klein
The Centre for Asian Canadian Research Engagement (ACRE) cluster will respond to ongoing issues facing diverse Asian Canadian communities, particularly the pervasiveness of anti-Asian racism which became very public during the pandemic. As a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, staff, and community knowledge bearers, we want to better understand and engage with the changing demographics of Asian Canadian communities, while highlighting the differential impacts of anti-Asian racism on these communities. We will explore how Asian Canadian communities can be represented and represent themselves through new approaches to archival collection, collaboration, digital preservation, and impactful distribution of public education.
Cluster Lead: Henry Yu
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 are a unique group of Indigenous scholars working to integrate multidisciplinary, inclusive, and collaborative approaches into current Indigenous research practices impacting Indigenous people. Furthermore, we strive to increase community engagement and participation based on reciprocal and respectful relationships, strengthen 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
This cluster connects scholars from across Arts whose research engages with landscapes in Latin America. Our workshops, speaker series, and other activities will centre the question of extractivism and its impact on Indigenous peoples, Latin American societies, and the environment. By fostering new research relationships, we will be able to apply for SSHRC grants and lay the foundations for a Centre for Latin American Studies. We will also use our events at UBC to develop collaborations with Latin American universities so as to create opportunities for Mitacs fellowships and to recruit Latin American postdoctoral researchers funded by national scientific councils.
Cluster Lead: Benjamin Bryce
There is an urgent unmet clinical need for innovative health solutions and new, more effective treatments to improve patient outcomes. The Multidisciplinary Alliance for Translational Research and Innovation in Neuropsychiatry (MATRIX-N) seeks to bridge gaps between neuroscience/psychiatry research, clinical practice and patient needs to facilitate innovative solutions to local and global mental health challenges. Two promising research strategies to address clinical gaps are the integration of foundational and clinical research, and concept of ‘reverse translation’, which prioritizes insights from clinicians, front-line health workers, and patients in inspiring translational research with potential for immediate and significant clinical impact.
Cluster Lead: Anthony Phillips
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 focus on emergent digital tools and technologies for mapping, gaming, and curating stories.
Streets provide the connective tissue for cities, providing mobility and access, distributing goods and utilities, and opportunities for social and civic interaction. Rethinking the Right-of-Way (ReROW) is focused on innovation in the design and management of streets, sidewalks, alleys, and other public spaces that lead to better social, health, and sustainable outcomes. With respect to the ROW, the cluster will focus on three research themes and the connections between them:
- mobility and access;
- energy and the environment;
- health and wellbeing.
Cluster Lead: Kelly Clifton
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
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing agriculture. Solutions to current climate change induced problems, and rapidly approaching future problems, will require a diverse, interdisciplinary, and strategic plan for each of our agricultural sectors. Our research cluster brings together diverse areas of expertise to provide a platform for collaboration among researchers with a common interest in wine production and climate change. It is expected that our cluster will synergize to define novel strategies that address the impact of climate change on wine production and also provide broad knowledge applicable to other agricultural systems.
Research Clusters led by researchers at our Okanagan campus are funded through the Eminence Program.