L-R: Sheryl Thompson, Mei-Ling Wiedmeyer, Kady Tishyadhigama and Soroush Moallef.

FHS graduate students win CIHR Scholarships to support their research

May 13, 2019

Four Faculty of Health Sciences Master’s students have been awarded CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarships to support their studies and further their research.

Soroush Moallef, Sheryl Thompson, Kady Tishyadhigama, and Dr. Mei-Ling Wiedmeyer are among the 2019 winners of the CIHR graduate scholarships, which provide financial support to high-calibre scholars in Canada. This support allows students to fully concentrate on their studies in their chosen fields while developing their research skills.


For Soroush Moallef, this means both current and future support of his research.

“I aim to complete my thesis by the end of this year, so this award will greatly benefit the timeliness of my research,” he says. “The award will also support the credibility of my work and future endeavours in research.”

Moallef is involved in research at the BC Centre on Substance Use, looking at knowledge of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act and responses to drug overdose events in several community-recruited cohorts of people who use illicit drugs in Vancouver.

“The opportunity to work with many leading research scientists, especially in the Faculty of Health Sciences, has been a highlight of my SFU experience,” says Moallef. “One of these individuals is my supervisor, Kanna Hayashi, who has provided me with tremendous support and academic training since my undergrad.”


Sheryl Thompson’s research on Indigenous Community Health will also be supported by the scholarship. Her interests focus on improving the health outcomes for Indigenous peoples by promoting Indigenous understandings and wellness practices, including promoting the education of healthcare experts who work and research in the field.

As a student in the Accelerated Master’s program, Thompson was able to apply 10 graduate units towards her BA. The scholarship will allow Thompson to maintain a balance between her studies, family, work, and the financial costs of conducting research in Indigenous communities.

“The BA in Health Sciences allows for a lot of self-direction and personal exploration,” says Thompson. “In addition to earning my Minor in First Nations Studies, I completed my Honours degree conducting research with Kelley Lee and Julia Smith into the illicit tobacco trade in Canada.”


With this scholarship, Kady Tishyadhigama will have the opportunity to expand her research, which focuses on targeting the cancer survival response to prevent tumour cells from spreading. Despite recent improvements in cancer therapeutics, it is still the leading cause of death worldwide.

“One thing that really stands out to me about SFU is the people,” says Tishyadhigama, who has been studying at SFU since her undergrad. “Everybody makes me feel welcome and very comfortable. I have been getting a lot of support from colleagues, staff, and my supervisor, Tim Beischlag.”

After her Master’s, Tishyadhigama plans to pursue a doctoral degree and work on building relationships with members of the health science field outside of lab-based work. “I hope to better understand how therapeutics and knowledge can be most effectively distributed to the populations that need them.”


Dr. Mei-Ling Wiedmeyer plans to utilize the scholarship to further develop community relationships alongside her research. She is currently working with her supervisor Shira Goldenberg on a community-based project examining the barriers marginalized im/migrant women in BC face with accessing sexual and reproductive health care.

“We are trying developing a responsive policy and program recommendations to ensure our system can be equitably accessed,” says Dr. Wiedmeyer.

She hopes to continue conducting research as a clinician scientist after she completes her Master’s while also returning to her clinical work as a family physician.

The experience as a graduate student in Faculty of Health Sciences has been rewarding for Dr. Wiedmeyer so far. “I have been thrilled to learn about the incredibly interesting and important work being done by my peers in the interdisciplinary MSc program,” she says. “I look forward to following their work in the years to come.”