Universities in B.C.’s Interior have received government funding for projects that research the harmful effects of COVID-19 and how to mitigate those impacts on communities.
Three Interior universities, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, UBC Okanagan in Kelowna and the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, are part of the Interior University Research Coalition (IURC) partnership.
Five collaborative research projects have been funded by the province. The projects include research to improve the lifespan of N95 masks, the effects of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of those living in rural communities and a risk assessment to identify home-care clients who are at greatest risk of contracting the virus, according to a press release from TRU.
The IURC has received $150,000 from the BC Ministry of Health to launch the initiative. Although focused largely on COVID-19 issues affecting the BC Interior, the research will support regional and provincial health-care decision-making.
Will Garrett-Petts, associate vice president of research and graduate studies at TRU, said it is a “win-win-win” situation for all of those involved. Those at top-level positions in the collaborative universities agree and are excited to work on a highly collaborative initiative.
“When researchers from different institutions collaborate across disciplines, the research outcomes benefit from different perspectives and synergies that result from cross-institutional collaboration,” said Kathy Lewis, acting vice-president of research at UNBC. “These projects are fantastic examples of what’s possible when researchers from across the B.C. Interior come together and seek solutions to pressing public health concerns.”
The IURC was created in 2017 to advance the research and innovation capacity of the B.C. Interior, while creating new opportunities for economic and social innovation.