On June 14, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) announced the recipients of their 2018 Scholar Awards. This year, three of the seventeen awardees are CHÉOS Scientists — Drs. Anne Gadermann, Ehsan Karim, and Skye Barbic. The MSFHR Scholar Program supports the development of B.C.’s research talent by providing salary support to scientists who are building strong research programs and training new scientists.

Dr. Anne Gadermann’s project aims to investigate mental health trajectories, mental health service use, and risk and protective factors among immigrant and refugee children and youth in B.C.


Dr. Anne Gadermann

“Canada’s immigrant and refugee population is growing rapidly, representing over 20 per cent of the Canadian population, but we know relatively little about their mental health needs and related risk and protective factors,” said Dr. Gadermann. “This research program will address this knowledge gap and provide health professionals and decision-makers with actionable evidence to support the healthy development of young newcomers in Canada.”

Dr. Gadermann will utilize unique population-level data linkages across B.C. and collect focus group data to characterize and understand immigrant and refugee child and youth mental health trajectories. A specific focus of the project will be on identifying factors related to access and barriers to care. Dr. Gadermann’s Scholar Award is co-funded by PHCRI.

Also receiving a Scholar Award co-funded by PHCRI, Dr. Ehsan Karim will develop biostatistical methodologies that will allow health researchers to infer cause-and-effect relationships from big-data sources using machine learning methods. Dr. Karim will investigate the use of disease-modifying drugs in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients as a means to developing this methodology. Dr. Karim’s PhD work also applied causal inference approaches to MS research.

“Ultimately, methodological developments through my research program will enable health researchers to convert large-scale health information into practical knowledge for MS and other chronic conditions, leading to cost-effective medical decision making and improving our provincial and national healthcare system” said Dr. Karim.

Dr. Skye Barbic has been involved in Foundry, a youth mental health initiative, since 2014. Dr. Barbic’s Scholar Award will specifically focus on enhancing health outcomes of youth living with mental health and substance use disorders. Using Foundry’s integrated health services approach, her research program will engage youth, families, and clinicians to ultimately develop tailored treatments and employment supports that are based on patient needs and priorities.

“The Scholar Award allows me the time to be innovative and dream — it is a great feeling to know that the Michael Smith Foundation believes in my research program,” said Dr. Barbic. “The award gives me the capacity to contribute evidence towards how to advance health outcomes for young people with mental illness and substance use disorders in British Columbia.”


Drs. Skye Barbic and Steve Mathias with then-Minister of Health, Jane Philpott at the Granville Youth Health Centre

These three scientists extend the list of CHÉOS scientists who have received MSFHR Scholar Awards. Last year, CHÉOS’ Dr. Mark Harrison received a Scholar Award for his work that combines policy, economic, and outcomes research to improve the delivery of care for Canadians with musculoskeletal diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

In 2014, Drs. Sean Barbour, Jagbir Gill, and Martha Mackay also received Scholar Awards.