BC SUPPORT UNIT Northern Centre

What is the BC SUPPORT Unit?
The BC SUPPORT (Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials) Unit is a multi-partner organization created to support, streamline and increase patient-oriented research throughout B.C. The Unit is one of 10 SUPPORT Units established across the country as part of Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is also part of the Michael Smith Health Research BC, with the network’s board providing governance and oversight. A provincial hub, located in Vancouver, coordinates activities across BC.

The Unit has two main roles:
  1. Providing services to patients, researchers, health care providers and health system decision makers
  2. Facilitating initiatives identified as provincial priorities.

About the Northern Centre:
The Northern Centre is one of four regional centres of the BC SUPPORT Unit. It’s the go-to resource for patient-oriented research within the geographic area served by Northern Health. The Centre serves the communities of Northern British Columbia from Quesnel north to the Yukon border, and Haida Gwaii east to the Alberta border.
The Northern Centre operates as a partnership between Northern Health and the University of Northern British Columbia through the Innovation and Development Commons.

Leana Garraway
UNBC Co-Lead (Manager, HRI)

Marcelo Bravo
Northern Co-Lead

Tina Strudsholm
Lead, Person and Community Engagement

Bree Loeffler (On Leave)
Administrative Assistant

Dan Ramcharran
Communications Advisor


Katie Cornish
Research Associate

Erica Koopmans
Research Associate

Lisa McGhee
Administrative Assistant

What is Patient-Oriented Research?
Research that is done in partnership with patients,answers research questions that matter to patients, and aims to improve health care.
Who is a Patient?
Anyone who has experience of the health care system and/or personal experience of a health issue, and informal caregivers, including family and friends.
I’m a patient, how can I get involved with health research?
REACH BC -connecting volunteers with Health Researchers in BC.
  • REACH BC platform is a joint initiative of the health authorities and university partners in BC, and connects volunteers with health researchers across BC. Researchers can post their studies to find interested participants across BC.
We can support you to connect with patient partner opportunities on research teams looking at health issues of interest to you. For inquiries, please contact the Northern Centre at: NorthernCentre@northernhealth.ca
For more information on BC SUPPORT Unit Northern Centre, see:

Funding Opportunities

To see current opportunities, please see our funding opportunities webpage.

Currently funded teams/individuals:

Developing Northern Research Collaborations Award
The BC SUPPORT Unit, Northern Centre has dedicated funding to provide the opportunity for researchers, health care providers, decision makers, and patient partners to develop collaborations for person, family, and community centred research. The Developing Northern Research Collaboration Awards are expected to catalyze patient-oriented research that aligns with CIHR’s SPOR Capacity Development Framework and the SPOR Patient Engagement Framework.
The total amount available for this competition is $50,000, enough to fund 5 awards. The maximum amount per award is $10,000 per year for up to one year.

Term: April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021

Title: Understanding engagement in care by patients who access opioid agonist therapy

UNBC Researcher: Erin Wilson
Health System Partners: Kristine Roswell, Healen Bourque, & Jennifer Hawkes
Patient/Community Partner: George Sears

Term: April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021

Title: Exploring Children's Independent Mobility in Northern BC

UNBC Researchers: Chelsea Pelletier & Caroline Sanders
Health System Partners: Gloria Fox
Patient/Community Partners: Stacey Pickering, Jenessa Ellis & Erica McLean

Term: September 2018 - June 2020

Title: Preventing RhD Alloimmunization in Northern BC

UNBC Researcher: Trina Fyfe
Health System Partner: Christorina Taruc
Patient/Community Partner: Jennifer Hawkes

Term: March 2018 - June 2020

Title: Envisioning Health with Nadleh Whut'En

UNBC Researcher: Sarah De Leeuw
Health System Partner: Kelly Gunn
Patient/Community Partner: Carolyn Hilbert

Term: September 2018 - May 2020

Title: Optimizing the Patient Experience in Medical Travel

UNBC Researcher: Denise Jaworsky
Health System Partner: Dave Sohi
Patient/Community Partners: Howard & Judy Chafin

Term: September 2018 - May 2020

Title: Optimizing the Patient Experience in Medical Travel

UNBC Researcher: Denise Jaworsky
Health System Partner: Dave Sohi
Patient/Community Partners: Howard & Judy Chafin

Graduate Studentship Award

The Graduate Studentship Program is designed for candidates who are enrolled in a full-time thesis-based Masters or PhD program at the University of Northern BC (UNBC) who are interested in undertaking patient-oriented research. The amount that each successful applicant receives is $10,000 per year for up to one  year.

The objectives of the studentship are to:

  • Support and train thesis-based graduate students in the principles and practice of patient-oriented research;
  • Provide patient-oriented training activities to develop capacity through an interdisciplinary approach that fosters collaboration between research partners (e.g, applicants, thesis supervisors, clinicians, patient partners, and community team members);
  • Create opportunities for research partners to work together, from conceptualization of the research questions through to dissemination and implementation of results; and
  • Demonstrate the impact of the studentship for graduate students and their research.

Term: April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021

Title: Effectiveness of an Intervention: Impact of the British Columbia Emergency Health Services Community Paramedicine Program on Chronic Condition Management in Rural and Remote British Columbia
UNBC Graduate Student: Andrew Schulz, Health Sciences

Title: The Impact of Structures and Systems Present in Everyday Home Care Nursing Work on the Nurse-Patient Relationship in Northern British Columbia
UNBC Graduate Student: Rebecca Stent, Nursing

Term: June 1, 2019 - May 31, 2020

Title: The Rehabilitative Effects of Vodder’s Manual Lymphatic Drainage on Patients Experiences with Concussions

UNBC Graduate Student: Alex Douglas

Title: Community Pharmacy Providers’ Experiences of Over the Counter Codeine Product Sales in British Columbia

UNBC Graduate Student: Erika Belanger

Education and Training Opportunities:

BC SUPPORT Unit Northern Centre

The BC SUPPORT Unit Northern Centre offers the Foundations in Patient-Orientated Research courses. These 1 or 2 day face-to face training include modules on patient-orientated research, fundamentals of health research in Canada, and building partnership and consolidating teams. To request a course, or to find out about upcoming workshops, please email hri@unbc.ca.

N2 Network and Networks

The Network of Networks (N2) is a not-for-profit incorporated organization and on alliance of Canadian research networks and organizations working to enhance national clinical research capability and capacity. The Northern Centre offers free clinical research training courses through N2 for anyone engaged in clinical research. For a list of available courses click here. To register for courses, contact Leana Garraway (leana.garraway@unbc.ca). To register for the N2 newsletter, visit their website

Who we are

We provide services to researchers, patients, health care providers and health system decision makers, and facilitate initiatives identified as provincial priorities.
We’re one of 11 SUPPORT Units across the country, all part of Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR), led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
We're part of the BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN), an organization which also includes Clinical Trials BC and Research Ethics BC.