News and Announcements

Upcoming SFU Medical School engagement opportunities for research faculty

August 18, 2023

The SFU Medical School is seeking input from faculty on research-focused engagement opportunities for the upcoming academic year.

In response to this spring’s research engagement session, starting this fall, the medical school is planning several activities for faculty members who want to share research-related thoughts and ideas, explore synergies, or learn more about the school’s research vision.

Faculty are invited to contact Valorie Crooks, associate vice president, research pro tem (AVPR), to express interest and help shape how these collaborative sessions are created. Crooks, who became AVPR pro tem in July, will take the lead on research-focused collaborations for the medical school over the coming year.

As a geography professor, Crooks holds the Canada Research Chair in Health Service Geographies. She previously held a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and served as the inaugural Fraser Health Faculty Fellow. Through her research, she has studied offshore medical education in the Caribbean.

“I am incredibly excited to be part of advancing this mandate from SFU's existing community-engaged perspective,” says Crooks. “I come to this role understanding that to be socially accountable, medical schools need to support the creation of responsive and impactful research.”

Broadly, the medical school intends to support ground-breaking research across the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) four pillars (biomedical, clinical, health system services, population health) while aligning opportunities with SFU’s 2023-2028 Strategic Research Plan (SRP) (particularly the priority research area “Supporting health and wellness of individuals, populations and communities”) and other existing human-health research.

Many SFU researchers are already responding to provincial health and healthcare priorities, such as in health tech innovation, ageing, chronic disease prevention, health system changes, the pandemic and the opioid crisis. The medical school and SFU’s health authority partners will allow for a deepening of this expertise, as well as applications to new clinical, administrative, and policy contexts.

These existing research strengths, combined with SFU’s strong orientation towards knowledge mobilization and application of research outcomes into practice and commercial innovation, will help ensure the medical school not only mentors the next generation of researchers and physicians, but also builds partnerships and delivers measurable community impact.

Crooks is also assessing how existing SFU research partnerships can help shape the new medical school’s engagement and social accountability approach. For example, the SFU-Fraser Health research initiative BC SUPPORT Unit Fraser Center already provides considerable support for and championing of patient partnership in health research.

“This is a group we can draw from to understand the potential of what patient-oriented approaches to research planning might bring,” Crooks suggests.

Outcomes from the prior engagement session indicated a good foundation can be built from structures and mechanisms that already exist at SFU. Crooks looks forward to listening and learning from SFU colleagues, connecting with community partners and identifying new opportunities to build upon the medical school’s research vision.

Past participants suggested the medical school should lean into interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities in the early stages of building its research program. These connections could reduce duplication of efforts and help educate those outside health and medical research on ways to contribute or lift other researchers from areas such as the social sciences and humanities.

“Creating an environment for health and medical research that SFU members find to be inclusive, supportive, and facilitative of their needs and those of their community and academic partners would certainly be a step in the right direction for success,” explains Crooks.

Next spring, faculty can also look forward to joint SFU-Fraser Health events that showcase existing interdisciplinary research collaborations and provide opportunities for exploring new shared directions. These events are currently in the early planning stage.

Faculty members are encouraged to connect with Crooks directly by emailing