Peter Wall News Feed





Thursday, October 22, 2015

Partnership with Michael Smith Foundation funds Knowledge Brokers for two health-related Solutions Projects

Two Wall Solutions Projects pursuing innovative health solutions will be supported to implement knowledge translation strategies through MSFHR’s 2015 Supplemental Knowledge Broker Funding Competition.

The competition, held in partnership with the Wall Solutions Initiative (WSI), will fund the hiring of knowledge brokers who will engage with diverse stakeholders and use knowledge translation models, strategies, and activities to enhance the use of health research evidence in policy and practice.

The two teams approved to receive supplemental knowledge broker funding are both undertaking health-related projects funded by WSI that will partner with end-users or community partners to develop practical research solutions to societal problems. It is expected that the knowledge brokers funded through this competition will be embedded within the WSI projects to develop, implement, and evaluate the use of knowledge translation strategies and activities.

This funding opportunity aligns with MSFHR’s strategic focus on enhancing the use of research evidence in practice and policy.

“Partnerships between researchers, research users, and knowledge brokers result in the development of knowledge to address issues of importance to the research users,” says Gayle Scarrow, knowledge translation director at MSFHR. “This knowledge is a marriage of the local and expert knowledge brought by the users coupled with the research evidence developed in partnership with the researchers.”

MSFHR thanks the members of the competition review panel for their contributions and congratulates the following 2015 MSFHR/WSI Supplemental Knowledge Broker Funding recipients on their successful applications.

Supporting the Achievement of Health Goals with Formerly Incarcerated Men

  • Principal investigator: Dr. Ruth Elwood, Clinical Professor, School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, UBC
  • Community partner/End-user organization: Ms. Catherine Latimer, Executive Director, John Howard Society of Canada

Project summary:

Incarcerated individuals, 90% of whom are male, suffer vast health inequities compared to the general population.  They face multiple barriers to reintegration and to seeking and receiving health care and health support following their release from correctional facilities.

This community-based participatory research project seeks to answer the question, “Will peer health mentoring result in successful reintegration and achievement of health goals for men leaving federal correctional facilities in BC?” The aim is to determine what the health goal priorities are for the formerly incarcerated men and if peer health mentors improve the achievement of individuals' health goals. 

The project will invite, train, and support formerly incarcerated individuals to become peer health mentors.  The mentors will work with men recently released from correctional facilities to address and meet their self-identified health goals.  This project has the potential to produce life-altering results, increasing men's chances of successful reintegration, and becoming self-sustaining, contributing citizen.

Evaluating the Impact of Alternative Social Assistance Timing on Drug-Related Harm

  • Principal investigator: Dr. Lindsey Richardson, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, UBC
  • Community partner/End-user organization: Mr. Russ Maynard, Harm Reduction Manager, PHS Community Services Society; Mr. Kevin Grant, Project Manager, Pigeon Park Savings

Project summary:

Coordinated monthly social assistance payments, while seeking to alleviate poverty, can have negative and unintended impacts, particularly among people who use illicit drugs (PWUD). Observational research has identified escalations in drug-related harm coinciding with assistance payments, such as overdose, treatment interruption and hospital admissions.

This project seeks to address these harms through an intervention to vary the timing and frequency of social assistance disbursement and an assessment of whether this intervention reduces drug-related harm coinciding with synchronized social assistance. Conducted among 273 PWUD, participants will be allocated for 6 social assistance cycles to a control or one of two intervention arms.

Intervention arm participants will receive their social assistance through PPS: (1) monthly on a day different from government cheque issue; or (2) semi-monthly on days different from government cheque issue. The intervention will be evaluated using qualitative and quantitative methods for its impact on drug use and related harms.

Learn More

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants, says Peter Wall Distinguished Professor

New research by scientists at UBC and BC Children’s Hospital finds that infants can be protected from getting asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age. More than 300 families from across Canada participated in this research through the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study.

“This research supports the hygiene hypothesis that we’re making our environment too clean. It shows that gut bacteria play a role in asthma, but it is early in life when the baby’s immune system is being established,” said the study’s co-lead researcher B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and the departments of microbiology & immunology and biochemistry and molecular biology at UBC.

Asthma rates have increased dramatically since the 1950s and now affect up to 20 per cent of children in western countries. The discovery opens the door to developing probiotic treatments for infants that prevent asthma. The finding could also be used to develop a test for predicting which children are at risk of developing asthma.

The researchers analyzed fecal samples from 319 children involved in the CHILD Study. Analysis of the gut bacteria from the samples revealed lower levels of four specific gut bacteria in three-month-old infants who were at an increased risk for asthma.

Most babies naturally acquire these four bacteria, nicknamed FLVR (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, Rothia),from their environments, but some do not, either because of the circumstances of their birth or other factors.

The researchers also found fewer differences in FLVR levels among one-year-old children, meaning the first three months are a critical time period for a baby’s developing immune system.

The researchers confirmed these findings in mice and also discovered that newborn mice inoculated with the FLVR bacteria developed less severe asthma.

“This discovery gives us new potential ways to prevent this disease that is life-threatening for many children. It shows there’s a short, maybe 100-day window for giving babies therapeutic interventions to protect against asthma,” said co-lead researcher Dr. Stuart Turvey, pediatric immunologist, BC Children’s Hospital, director of clinical research and senior clinician scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute, Aubrey J. Tingle Professor of Pediatric Immunology at UBC.

The researchers say that further study with a larger number of children is required to confirm these findings and reveal how these bacteria influence the development of asthma.

The study was published today in in Science Translational Medicine.

Watch a video with the researchers here


  • There are trillions of bacteria in the human body, and they play an important role in human health. In fact, there are 10 times as many bacterial cells in the human body as there are human cells.
  • The CHILD Study involves over 3,500 children across Canada whom researchers are tracking from before birth to age five in order to identify the factors associated with developing allergy and asthma. The CHILD Study has recruiting centres at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Women & Children’s Health Research Institute in Edmonton, the University of Manitoba, and SickKids in Toronto with its national coordinating centre headquartered at McMaster University in Hamilton.
Learn More