Celebrating Research Excellence

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Celebrating excellence in our talented research community 2022 Award Recipients

Celebrating Research Excellence Awards Ceremony

Friday, November 25 | 3:00 p.m.

Watch virtually here

Awards Ceremony

Join us in celebrating the accomplishments of our colleagues and the positive impact of research taking place on the Oak Street campus

The award ceremony will feature the trainee recipients of the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute:

• Outstanding Achievement Awards

• Studentships & Fellowships

Geoffrey L. Hammond Lectureship

Listen to a special presentation from Dr. Michael Kobor, Geoffrey L. Hammond Lectureship recipient, on his career and research highlights

Geoffrey L. Hammond Lectureship

Dr. Michael Kobor

The Geoffrey L. Hammond Lectureship recognizes investigators on the Oak Street Campus who have made a significant impact on improving the health and well-being of children and/or families, served as a role model and mentor to junior researchers, trainees and students over the last 10 years, and provided leadership to the community on the Oak Street Campus.

Dr. Michael Kobor has been awarded the 2022 Geoffrey L. Hammond Lectureship. The former, and inaugural, director of the Healthy Starts Research Theme at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR), senior scientist at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) and professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) was nominated for his pioneering research, visionary leadership, and dedication to mentorship.

Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging – A UBC President’s Excellence Chair

Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital and Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics

Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Dr. Kobor began his academic studies in his native Germany, before coming to Canada to complete his PhD in medical genetics under Dr. Jack Greenblatt at the University of Toronto. He then completed postdoctoral training as a Human Frontier Science Program Fellow with Dr. Jasper Rine at the University of California, Berkeley. An investigator at BCCHR since 2005, Dr. Kobor’s interdisciplinary research has investigated the biological mechanisms by which early life social and environmental factors “get under the skin” to influence child development and health across the lifespan. His lab’s work has focused on epigenetics, in particular DNA methylation, which refers to the addition of a chemical tag called a methyl group to DNA that can affect gene expression.

Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia

He has also developed a powerful and easy-to-use tool that uses DNA methylation to predict a child’s epigenetic―or biological―age. The epigenetic age of a child can then be compared to their chronological age. Using this tool, studies have found that larger discrepancies between a child’s epigenetic age and chronological age are associated with developmental disorders and exposure to early life adversity. This tool has the potential to become the standard reference for epigenetic studies broadly relevant to child development across the spectrum from health to disease.

Top-tier peer-reviewed journals have published more than 200 of Dr. Kobor’s research papers, and his brilliant work has been recognized with a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics and a BC Leading Edge Endowment Fund Chair. Since 2005, projects he has led or co-led have generated over $172 million in grants, with $22 million of that flowing to his laboratory.

At BCCHR, Dr. Kobor led the development of the Clinical and Translational Research Seed Grants program, which continues to provide important funding to postdoctoral fellows and health professionals. He also joined BCCHR’s Research Leadership Council in 2014 and became director of the Healthy Starts Research Theme in 2015. He developed the UBC-based Social Exposome Research Cluster, which involves over 40 principal investigators, including 12 from BCCHR, to understand the factors leading to inequalities in child health and development. In addition, he developed a Healthy Starts Catalyst Grant competition to fund new projects that provide a foundation for larger funding applications and spark new collaborations.

In 2017, Dr. Kobor was named the Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development. He held this position until April 2022, when he was appointed as the Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Healthy Aging Chair –a UBC President’s Excellence Chair. In this new role, Dr. Kobor will build on his success in child development research to develop a new interdisciplinary program on healthy aging that aims to understand the biological, social and environmental factors that influence aging trajectories and health across the life course. He is also currently a Fellow in the Child and Brain Development Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).

In addition to dedicating time to research and leadership activities, Dr. Kobor also shares his knowledge, research expertise and networks with students and trainees. He served as the formal postdoctoral fellow mentor at BCCHR from 2014 to 2021, and the 21 postdoctoral fellows and 35 graduate students at BCCHR and UBC that he has supervised have collectively published 184 peer-reviewed publications and secured $2.7 million in research funding. One of the postdoctoral fellows he mentored went on to receive a Banting Fellowship, the most prestigious Canadian award for postdoctoral fellows.

Over the years, Dr. Kobor has served as a role model to trainees and early career researchers at BC Children’s Hospital, and continues to lead a successful research program that has significantly impacted our understanding of child health and development. As part of his dedicated service to the Research Institute, he has also led many initiatives onsite, including the recruitment of exceptional new investigators. Overall, Dr. Kobor is not only recognized as an outstanding scientist and child health researcher at BCCHR, but also known world-wide as a pioneer in epigenetics research and the social determinants of health in children.

Isabella Parrotta

Kim Research Team

Outstanding Achievement Awards: Undergraduate or Medical Student Outstanding Achievement Awards: Masters Student

This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of an Undergraduate or Medical Student whose research curiosity and engagement clearly demonstrate the individual’s potential as a valuable member of the scientific community.

As the winner of this year’s BCCHR Outstanding Achievement by an Undergraduate or Medical Student award, Isabella Parrotta has already gained a lot of experience in different research fields.

One of her projects assesses mental health in pediatric patients with chronic spinal cord disorders. Supervised by Dr. Soojin Kim, Isabella works directly with patients and families on sensitive subject matters. Another study with Dr. Kim’s team looks at long-term outcomes of pediatric patients with congenital anomalies of their kidneys and urinary tract. Isabella is also an active member of the Surgery and Society team, helping to address food insecurity at the CityReach Care Society food bank. Her compassion and vision for working with vulnerable populations demonstrates the kind of community spirit needed for the future workforce in science and medicine. Read more

This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a Masters Student whose research skills and analytical capacity clearly demonstrate the individual’s potential as a productive member of the scientific community

With a Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemical and Biological Engineering degree and a Doctor of Medicine, Dr. Kristen Favel has recently completed a Master of Public Health and the highly competitive Clinician Investigator program at UBC. Her supervisors at BC Children’s Hospital include investigators Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos and Dr. Cherry Mammen.

Kristen is driven by her incredible passion for advancing research and clinical care for pediatric type 1 diabetes (T1D), and has made significant discoveries that could transform the national standard of care. She identified that many of the T1D patients at BC Children’s had not completed urine testing to monitor kidney function as recommended by the Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines. To address this, she developed a patient handout with the Endocrinology team, which is now part of standard clinical care at the hospital. Read more

Dr. Kristen Favel Panagiotopoulos & Mammen Research Teams

Outstanding Achievement Awards: Doctoral Student

This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a Doctoral Student whose originality, research ability and capacity for critical thinking identifes them as being a contributing member in the scientific community.

Punit Virk first joined Dr. Quynh Doan’s team as a master’s student working on the HEARTSMAP mental health assessment tool. The goals of his master’s and doctoral projects have been to adapt the clinical HEARTSMAP tool into user-centered versions for both children and adolescents (MyHEARTSMAP), as well young adults pursuing postsecondary education (HEARTSMAP-U).

Punit Virk Doan & Gadermann Research Teams

Over the course of his doctoral studies, Punit has furthered the work of mental health screening and early detection by not only piloting the HEARTSMAP-U tool among young adults, but also crafting validation procedures that have allowed him to champion the voices of diverse and systemically excluded student voices in his work. Outside of the academic sphere, Punit continues to prove himself as a leader by promoting better mental health care standards, strategies, and services through his participation on prominent committees in the sector. Read more

Outstanding Achievement Awards: Postdoctoral Fellow

This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a Postdoctoral Fellow whose high academic achievements, personal leadership qualities and research ability show promise of the individual becoming a future leader in health research.

Dr. Sarai Racey attended the University of Toronto and graduated with a PhD in epidemiology. For her dissertation, she explored whether human papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling could increase cervical cancer screening among women in rural and remote communities in Ontario. Through this work, she discovered her desire to ensure that underserved and rural and remote communities have greater access to health care, and that their voices are heard and included in research.

During her postdoctoral training under the supervision of Dr. Gina Ogilvie, Sarai was drawn to research on vaccine hesitancy, or vaccine acceptance, to better understand the impact of vaccination to prevent illness and suffering. She is now a research associate at the Women’s Health Research Institute, where she will continue her work exploring HPV vaccine acceptance in BC to better understand parental decisionmaking when it comes to vaccinating their children. Read more

Dr. Sarai Racey Ogilvie Research Team

2022 Postdoctoral Fellowships

Dr. Maryam Balaei, Goldowitz Research Team

Mining for Miracles Postdoctoral Fellowship

Project: “Investigating the role of novel microRNAs in cerebellar granule cell development”

Dr. Glen Lester Sequiera, Pouladi Research Team

Bertram Hoffmeister Postdoctoral Fellowship

Project: “Investigation of Sigma 1 receptor activity rescue to provide therapeutical options for the treatment of Rhett Syndrome”

Every year, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute provides a number of research training awards to highly qualified individuals working on the Oak Street Campus. These funding opportunities enable our researchers to recruit and support exceptional trainees, ensuring future excellence in care and research dedicated to improving the health of children and families.

The BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute training awards and funding opportunities are made possible through the generous support of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

2022 Doctoral Studentships

Laura Chan, Leavitt Research Team

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Assessing the functional effects of potentially pathogenic huntingtin variants”

Samantha Mar, Lynn Research Team

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Characterizing Mediator subunit 15 in pancreatic alpha cells”

Lindsay Pallo, Verchere Research Team

Childhood Diseases Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Islet amyloid polypeptide as a trigger and biomarker in Type 1 diabetes”

Ahmad Samara, Vanderwal Research Team

Brain, Behaviour & Development Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Macroscale cortical organization during naturalistic viewing”

2022 Doctoral Studentships

Phyu Mar Soe, Bettinger Research Team

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network: COVID-19 vaccine safety among children 5 to 11 years of age”

Lauren St-Germain, Beristain Research Team

Healthy Starts Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Defining the effects of maternal obesity in response to low level immune challenge”

Esteban Valencia, Janssen Research Team

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Doctoral Studentship

Project: “Characterizing the health of incarcerated mothers and its implications for child wellbeing: Analysis of a prospective cohort of women released from BC correctional centers”

2022 Masters Studentships

Vriti Bhagat, Verchere Research Team

Sue Carruthers Masters Studentship

Project: “Identifying impairments in beta cell prohormone processing in diabetes”

Ekaterina Filatov, Lynn Research Team

Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories Masters


Project: “Genetic manipulation of hES-derived insulin-producing cells to improve graft outcomes”

Bruno Freitas, Levings Research Team

Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories Masters Studentship

Project: “Benefits of regulatory immune cells on function, maturation and engraftment of stem cell-derived beta cells”

Avani Lamba, Bettinger Research Team

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Masters Studentship

Project: “Evaluating strain coverage of approved meningococcal vaccines against circulating meningococcal B disease strains in Canada”

2022 Masters Studentships

Lucas Starchuk, Klein Geltink Research Team

Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories Masters Studentship

Project: “Investigating the pro-inflammatory role of XOR in diabetes”

Erin Tanaka, Klein Geltink Research Team

Jan M. Friedman Masters Studentship

Project: “Methylglyoxal induced changes to pro-inflammatory T cell function”

Olivia Tsihlias, Zwicker Research Team

Brain, Behaviour & Development Masters Studentship

Project: “White matter differences in preterm-born children with developmental coordination disorder before and after rehabilitation”

Skyla Witt, Pouladi Research Team

BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Masters Studentship

Project: “Investigation of a novel Type II DNA topoisomerase beta mutation in neural development”

2022 Clinical & Translational Research

Seed Grants

Congratulations to the 2022 Clinical & Translational Research Seed Grant recipients! This program has been developed to support clinical and translational research projects taking place on the Oak Street Campus by promoting research collaborations between postdoctoral fellows and clinical trainees, physicians, or other health professionals. The intent is to support well-defined research projects that may not otherwise receive funding, foster new areas of research, enhance research partnerships, and build leadership capacity for both research and clinical trainees.

Dr. Martina Mudri, Subspecialty Resident/Fellow, BC Children’s Hospital, Skarsgard Research Team & Dr. Martin Prusinkiewicz, Postdoctoral Fellow, Lavoie Research Team The importance of developmental genes in human congenital diaphragmatic hernia lung development

Dr. Clara Fernandez Elviro, Subspecialty Resident/Fellow, BC Children’s Hospital & Dr. Rachel Eddy, Postdoctoral Fellow, Rayment Research Team

A pilot study to evaluate lung structure-function in pediatric survivors of congenital diaphragmatic hernia using 129Xe MRI

Dr. Kristin Marr, New Physician, BC Children’s Hospital & Dr. Sharon Hou, Postdoctoral Fellow, Deyell Research Team

Evaluation of an innovative, culturally responsive, and equitable mixed model of care for survivors of childhood cancer and their families in British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Karen Mabilangan, Subspecialty Resident/Fellow, BC Children’s Hospital, Datta Research Team & Dr. Katelynn Boerner, Postdoctoral Fellow, Oberlander & Coelho Research Teams Ketogenic diets for children and youth with epilepsy: Long-term impact on eating behaviour and quality of life

*Funded by the Brain, Behaviour & Development Theme

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