Health-related research and innovation is thriving in Surrey

December 03, 2019

Health-related research and innovation is thriving in Surrey, a fact made clearly evident last week in an SFU Surrey campus classroom packed with more than 80 bright minds from SFU and Fraser Health. These enthusiastic problem-solvers convened for the annual SFU-Fraser Health Research Pitch Day, which saw teams of health researchers, practitioners and, for the first-time patient partners, aim for ‘first base’ and beyond with their projects and ideas by attracting like-minded collaborators. The concept is definitely win-win, most certainly in terms of the health and social issues they are working to solve.

In all, 15 pitches were delivered: six from each of SFU and Fraser Health and three more from patient partners members.


And pardon my baseball metaphors, but all of the pitchers knocked it out of the park. Pitchers were looking for partners who could assist on many fronts. The ideas were diverse; from improving treatment delivery for asthma and COPD to creating delivery systems for electronic health records; from providing expertise in medical fundraising to investigating enhancements to suicide safety planning. One of the most compelling presentations was made by a patient partner who, through the lens of her child who passed away after a short life time of living with severe chronic diseases, talked about the need for research on the link between trauma and grief.

Enter the power of engagement. Soon enough, the bases were becoming loaded as conceivers and potential partners began to align.


At the same time, the process itself highlighted the fact that we are all on the same team, a point driven home by Kevin Kelly and Michael Gabriel, representing Kwantlen First Nation and Chief Marilyn Gabriel. Kevin and Michael opened the day by reminding us there is value in giving and acknowledging respect, in recognizing the strengths of others and within ourselves, and in taking time to practice self-care; messages that resonated with those in the room as they looked to draw on the collective strengths and talents of colleagues.

Stay tuned for their future solutions; there are home runs still to come.