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PHC Researchers receive Innovation and Translational Research Award

 WesterbergB

(Image: Dr. Lindsey Richardson, left; Dr. Brian Westerberg, right)

Providence Health Care Research Institute (PHCRI) is pleased to announce our collaboration with Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) for this year’s Innovation and Translational Research Award. PHCRI has chosen to run our program this year in partnership with VCHRI to stimulate greater collaboration between two organizations. As a result, two of PHC’s researchers were selected to receive funding from PHCRI and from a partnership with VCHRI.

Congratulations to PHC researchers, Dr. Lindsey Richardson of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS andDr. Brian Westerberg, Head of Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at PHC, and scientist at the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS).

About Dr. Lindsey Richardson’s study: Potential impacts of alternative income assistance schedules on drug-related harm: Translating health research in Vancouver into health-promoting social policy

Monthly social assistance payments are helpful in alleviating some of the health harms associated with poverty.  However, it can also be a major driver for health, social and economic issues related to drug and substance use. A study in Vancouver identified significant recurrences of drug-related harm around synchronized cheque issue days such as intensified drug use and overdose, leading to further problems that include a higher demand for health, social and police services.  

Dr. Lindsey Richardson, a researcher with the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, was involved in a study identifying increased overdose at InSite around cheque issue and is now leading a this newly funded project, working with Pigeon Park Savings and looking at the potential positive impacts of changing the schedule of social assistance cheque payments in different scenarios: 1) timing of payments and 2) timing and frequency of payments. 

“There is a significant opportunity to rethink how we can provide social assistance in more health-promoting ways,” says Dr. Lindsey Richardson.  The challenge of this study is to help participants “transition from the government schedule to a different schedule without having too much gap between payments.” Dr. Richardson has worked with Pigeon Park savings to design system that is capable of holding government payments and issuing money to recipients at different times.

Dr. Richardson, who is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at UBC, also underlines the opportunity for this study to involve a wide range of community members to address an issue that Vancouver and other jurisdictions are challenged by. With the increase of drug use and drug-related risk, the cost of providing extra health, social and policing services associated with drug harm also rises. “The hope is that this study identifies a way to reduce the burden of cheque issue day on service providers as well as reduce drug related harm and improve access to key health services for people who use illicit drugs.”

This study was funded entirely by PHCRI and adjudicated in partnership with VCHRI.

About Dr. Brian Westerberg’s study: Targeted stem cell therapy to the inner ear using new magnetized cochlear implant

Dr. Westerberg’s study examines the use of magnets in cochlear implants and pairing with magnetized mysenchymal stem cells to improve deaf people’s hearing. Cochlear implants help deaf patients recover hearing by stimulating nerve endings inside the inner ear. However, there is potential to achieve better sound quality through stem cell therapies that improve the interface between nerves and electrode. As almost all hearing loss comes from the loss of sensory cells in the cochlea, the study will examine the pairing of a magnetic cochlear implant with mMSCs to attract mMSCs into the cochlea.  

This study is jointly funded by PHCRI and VCHRI.

For more information on Dr. Westerberg’s study and studies led by VCHRI researchers who also received funding, please visit announcement from VCHRI.