Three universities team up for COVID-19 solutions

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The B.C. Ministry of Health is investing in five collaborative research projects through…

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The B.C. Ministry of Health is investing in five collaborative research projects through the Interior University Research Coalition to better understand the harmful effects of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact on communities.

Thompson Rivers University, University of British Columbia – Okanagan, and University of Northern British Columbia make up the Interior University Research Coalition.

According to a release Thursday, the provincially-funded projects range from identifying the pandemic’s effects on the mental health and wellbeing of people living in rural communities to developing telehealth programs that engage older adults outside urban centres.

Another project explores ways to extend the lifespan of N95 masks. Lastly, the coalition will build a better understanding of how new technologies improve the delivery of services to rural healthcare practitioners.

“This is a win-win-win situation for the province, for the universities, and for the communities we serve in terms of the impact this research will have on the health and quality of life for the people who live there,” says Will Garrett-Petts, associate vice-president, research and graduate studies at TRU.

The B.C. Ministry of Health has given $150,000 to the IURC to begin the project. The IURC was created in 2017 to advance the research and innovation capacity and commercialization potential for the B.C. Interior, as well as create new opportunities for social and economic innovation.

Funding is focused on COVID-19 issues affecting the B.C. Interior, but results will help support regional and provincial healthcare decision-making and provide real-world experience for students to learn about the complex world of healthcare.

“When researchers from different institutions collaborate across disciplines, the research outcomes benefit from different perspectives and synergies that result from cross-institutional collaboration,” says Kathy Lewis, acting vice-president, research, at UNBC. “These projects are fantastic examples of what’s possible when researchers from across the B.C. Interior come together and seek solutions to pressing public health concerns.”


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