Research Projects

Heart attacks and strokes are highly heritable, especially when they occur at a young age. Because of this heritability, the family members of someone with early-onset heart disease are themselves at high risk. Together with co-principal investigator Dr. Simon Pimstone, Dr. Liam Brunham is leading SAVE BC, the Study to Avoid cardioVascular Events in British Columbia.

SAVE BC aims to systematically identify families with early onset heart disease in the province in order to screen the family members for risk factors and institute preventative strategies. In addition, SAVE BC is studying genetic and other molecular markers in these high-risk families to discover the causes of very early onset heart disease. Over the long term, SAVE BC aims to significantly reduce the burden of early onset heart disease in the province, and provide insight into why some young individuals develop this devastating disease.

  • Brunham, L. R., Lynch, K., English, A., Sutherland, R., Weng, J., Cho, R., ... & McManus, B. (2018). The Design and Rationale of SAVE BC: The Study to Avoid Vascular Events in British Columbia. Clinical Cardiology. Epub 2018 Apr 10. LINK

Dr. Nadia Khan’s research focuses on improving women’s heart health. Dr. Khan worked with a team of researchers for the past four years to develop a national cohort of young women and men with heart disease to identify early warning symptoms of heart attacks. She discovered that young women’s symptoms differed from men’s, and that some symptoms occurred days and weeks before their heart attack.

The next steps are to find out if aggressive treatment during this critical, early time window when symptoms start can prevent the development of heart attacks in young women. Dr. Khan has found that Chinese and South Asian populations have among the highest death rates from stroke and heart disease compared to those of European descent. She is currently the PI for the CIHR-funded NaMaSTe (Novel Model for South Asian Treatment in Diabetes) randomized controlled trial. This study aims to assess the impact of a novel culturally tailored lifestyle and medication adherence intervention in SA patients with poorly controlled diabetes.

Dr. John Staples’ CIHR-funded grant seeks to use British Columbia’s world-class population-based data sets to identify medical diagnoses, particularly syncope, that increase the risk of car crash through linkage of health services data with the ICBC data on traffic accidents. Novel insights into the relationship between medical comorbidity and injury will be used to improve counselling of patients and to design more effective injury reduction policies.

Dr. Staples' work has resulted in publication of a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine on cannabis use during 4/20 and car crashes in the United States. This letter has garnered lots of media interest, including articles in TIME, Newsweek, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, Gizmodo, The Independent (UK), The Daily (UK), The Associated Press (including syndication to The Washington Post and The National Post), and Reuters.

Letter in JAMA Internal Medicine
UBC Media Release

Dr. Anita Palepu’s research examines the health status of persons who are homeless and vulnerably housed. She was the Vancouver PI for the Health and Housing in Transition Study, a CIHR-funded longitudinal study that followed 396 homeless and vulnerably housed adults over 4 years. The survey data have been linked with PopData BC and the impact of housing transitions and determinants of longitudinal health service utilization is currently being examined.

MedSafer is a current CIHR-funded multi-centre trial that examines an electronic describing intervention on potentially inappropriate medications and adverse drug events in the frail elderly. It is currently being conducted on the medical wards at St. Paul’s Hospital. Dr. Anita Palepu is the Vancouver principal investigator, and Dr. Nadia Khan is a co-investigator.

Learn more on the study website.
Article in CHÉOS News

Dr. Rose Hatala is part of an international collaboration developing online adaptive tutoring systems for undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. Focusing currently on teaching electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation, investigators are demonstrating that it is possible to create a systematic large collection of medical images that fully represents the spectrum in the Electronic Health Record. Using advanced statistical and cognitive models, they are creating a more efficient and authentic learning algorithm that better matches with an individual’s learning curve. Most importantly, they are developing an instructional framework that can generalize to visual learning in other domains.

Dr. John Staples has support from the Specialist Services of BC to evaluate a multi-million dollar hospital readmission reduction program.