Thirty-five research excellence clusters led by researchers on the Vancouver campus will be funded through the Research Excellence Clusters initiative in 2021/22. 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 35 Research Excellence Clusters funded in 2021/22 includes 11 clusters in the second year of their current award.
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 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: Anoush Poursartip
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
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
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
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 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
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
The Airway Centre is focused on addressing the growing burden of chronic airway diseases in BC and elsewhere by finding better prognostics/diagnostics and therapies for patients. Our researchers are actively translating the knowledge generated to impact patient care and health policies.
Cluster Lead: Don Sin
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
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
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
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
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: Loretta Li
The Data Science and Health (DASH) Cluster is building a system to link health research data in BC. Our work will enhance the availability and use of health data to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, as well as enable computational tools that speed discovery of new knowledge, optimizing health outcomes for all BC residents.
Cluster Lead: Anita Palepu
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
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
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 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
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.
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
Memories of political violence is 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.
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
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
Research Clusters led by researchers at our Okanagan campus are funded through the Eminence Program.