Ruth Lavergne is one of the 20 MSFHR Scholars for 2019.

MSFHR awards help health science scholars and trainees further their research

July 30, 2019

By Clement Woo

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) recently announced the 58 recipients of its 2019 Scholar and Research Trainee awards, including several researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS).

FHS assistant professor Ruth Lavergne was named one of the 20 Scholars, while Stephanie Harvard and Adam Raymakers were part of the 38 Research Trainee awardees.

The Scholar Program supports researchers who are building cutting-edge health research programs, training junior scientists and expanding their potential to make significant contributions to their field. The Research Trainee Program provides salary support for health researchers in the training phase of their research career.

Scholar award:

Ruth Lavergne

"Strengthening Primary Care Through Population-Based Research"

Lavergne’s research is dedicated to strengthening primary care, ensuring there are adequate health care providers to meet the needs of Canadians both now and in the future. In particular, she explores how access can be improved for underserved groups, including people managing both mental and physical health conditions, and recent immigrants and refugees.

“The goal of my research is to shape primary care policy and service delivery in ways that strengthen health systems and improve health equity,” she says.

Through data analysis and partnerships with diverse research teams that include patients and care providers, Lavergne monitors the impact of policy changes to make sure research results help change health care systems for the better.

One of the projects she is currently leading tracks changes within the physician workforce, which will provide valuable information about practice choices and help identify areas where changes to the organization and delivery of primary care may be needed. 

“FHS has been an incredibly supportive setting to build my program of research,” Lavergne says. “I feel fortunate to be a member of an academic community where applied, interdisciplinary research undertaken is understood and valued.”

While various collaborations within the Faculty of Health Sciences have taken Lavergne’s research in new directions, she is also consistently inspired by the students in the faculty. “Our students’ diverse experiences and thoughtful perspectives on health services have shaped my research, and it’s been a privilege to work with and learn from them.”

Research Trainee awards:

Stephanie Harvard 

“Value Judgments In Health Economics Modelling For Primary Care: Towards Patient And Public Partnership In BC”

Supervisor: Diego Silva

Harvard’s research interests are in values in science, specifically in health economics and simulation modelling studies.

Her recent work has aimed to clarify what sorts of social and ethical value judgments arise in health economics modelling. The upcoming project she is working on will share this knowledge with patients and the public, and ask their views on participating in the modelling process. This is important because health economics models are often used to inform health care policy, including what services people will have access to.

At SFU, Harvard enjoys having the opportunity to listen, learn and collaborate with various people across different departments.

“I appreciate that SFU shares many of my values, including the importance of acknowledging colonialism and the fact that we are on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish People.”

Adam Raymakers 

“Improving The Methods Of Economic Evaluation To Support Decision-Making: CAR-T, Uncertainty, And Real-World Evidence”

Supervisor: Stuart Peacock

Raymakers’ research investigates how economic evaluation can be used to inform decision-making in health care. Specifically, he is interested in the evaluation of evidence and broadening the scope of economic evaluations to include components such as equity, in order to provide a comprehensive assessment of the technology under consideration.

Other than being costly, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness and longevity of various therapies, such as CAR-T. Therefore, it is important to conduct comprehensive economic evaluations that acknowledge both the evidence and the uncertainty around the evidence that can inform decision-making.

Raymakers credits SFU’s strong health economics team in helping his development as a researcher.

“FHS brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers with a variety of perspectives that, for me, is really valuable to appreciating the broad spectrum of health care needs of individuals and populations.”