Michael Smith Health Research BC announced that FHS postdoctoral fellows, Francis Mwimanzi and Sian Tsuei, were selected to receive Research Trainee awards in 2023. Photos: Blausen Medical; DCStudio.

Two FHS post-doctoral fellows receive Michael Smith awards

September 21, 2023

by Sharon Mah 

Michael Smith Health Research BC (MSHRBC) announced today that two Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) postdoctoral fellows are receiving Research Trainee awards in 2023! Please join us in congratulating Dr. Francis Mwimanzi and Dr. Sian Tsuei who will be using the funding to pursue their own projects (listed below).

MSHRBC also revealed that they are increasing the value of the Research Trainee award to $60,000 to better support recipients in their scholarship. A spokesperson for the agency noted that funding for research trainees in Canada has been stagnant for many years. "As BC's health research agency, we are taking steps to reverse this trend by implementing an award increase  – the second increase for research trainees in three years."

The MSHRBC Research Trainee Program supports the best and brightest health reearchers in training to enable career development and support world-class health research in BC.

Francis Mwimanzi

Leveraging longitudinal COVID-19 vaccine cohorts to deconstruct SARS-CoV-2-specific adaptive immune responses and the potential for viral infection to induce immune amnesia

Supervisor: Mark Brockman
Co-supervisor: Zabrina Brumme

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has resulted in >400 million documented infections and ~6 million deaths worldwide. Safe and effective vaccines have significantly reduced morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19, but even the newest bivalent vaccines provide only limited protection against infection with current SARS-CoV-2 variants. Further in-depth analyses of immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 infection are needed. Moreover, the rise in non-COVID-19 respiratory infections in 2022 has led to speculation that SARS-CoV-2 may impair immune responses to other pathogens. This is plausible since SARS-CoV-2 can dysregulate B cells, the specialized immune cells that produce antibodies, but few studies have examined this. My research will examine the generation of B cell responses against the original (ancestral) SARS-CoV-2 and newer Omicron variants in a diverse cohort of vaccinated adults. I will characterize B cells that cross-react with ancestral and variant Spike, which are likely to help protect against new strains. Finally, I will explore the consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection on B cell responses to other respiratory viruses.

Sian Tsuei

Investigating telemedicine's impact on technical quality of care

Supervisor: Lindsay Hedden

Telemedicine became an integral part of health services delivery during the COVID pandemic for Canada and will likely remain so thereafter due to potential for improving access and patient satisfaction.

However, telemedicine likely has its limits. Telemedicine may not be suitable for all cases. Telemedicine can mainly provide visual and verbal information, and some medical conditions and complaints require additional forms of information. Using telemedicine for inappropriate medical conditions or complaints may undermine the technical quality of care.

Drawing on administrative data, this project seeks to examine the kinds of medical conditions and complaints associated with worse quality of care on telemedicine, if continuity of care mitigates such adverse impact, and if such negative impact is distributed inequitably. The findings has implications for policymakers, health care organization leaders, providers, and medical educators regarding how to best adjust the relevant policies and practices so that telemedicine can be used most appropriately.