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  • Student Research

    Research is an important component of medical education, and students are encouraged, where possible, to undertake research projects while they pursue their medical degree. Many IMP students have taken advantage of past research opportunities. You can read about some of their projects below.

    Find out more about current research opportunities.

    IMP Research Coordinator

    The IMP Research Coordinator provides assistance to students in regard to local research opportunities by: 

    • Maintaining a listing of local researchers, their areas of interest and contact information.
    • Coordinating local research events like 'Meet and Greets'.

    IMP students interested in finding out more about local research opportunities are encouraged to contact Katie Gerritsen, Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Dean, to be directed to the appropriate person (while the IMP Research Coordinator role is being filled).

    UBC MD and Undergraduate Research Office

    Provides information about research funding and mentoring opportunities for all UBC MD undergraduate students.

    • Examples of funding opportunities:
      • Summer Student Research Program (SSRP)
      • Medical Student Travel Award Summer Student Internship Program

    To find out more, IMP students should refer to the UBC MD Research Office website.  For the most up-to-date information about research opportunities, events and resources, check out the bi-monthly Student Research News E-Bulletin.


    Ryan HeronStudents participating in the Faculty of Medicine's Summer Student Research Program(SSRP) gain valuable real-world experiences that inspire them to pursue careers in research, become life-long learners, and develop the skills needed to respond to the fast-moving world of health care.

    This summer, SSRP participant Ryan Heron, Island Medical Program Class of 2017, had the opportunity to work with supervisors Dr. Brian Christie, Affiliate Professor, and Dr. Patrick Nahirney, Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, to study the effects of a nutritional supplement - omega-3 fatty acids - on the growth of neurites, the cellular projections that become axons and dendrites in mature neurons. Although many people take omega-3 supplements and the benefits of these fatty acids on brain health are highly publicized, how they exert their effects at the cellular level is poorly understoood.

    Having studied cellular biology as an undergraduate, Ryan was attracted to research that would connect his academic background with his interests in medicine: "As a medical student, I believe all clinicians should have respect and natural inquiry for the science behind modern medical advice, and the SSRP allowed me to explore the interesting world of biomedical research." From study design to data analysis, he was largely responsible for all aspects of this project and gained the skills necessary to perform the investigations, including learning microscopy techniques, image processing, and cell culture methods. In addition to connecting basic research to clinical care, this project allowed him to continue building practical laboratory skills that are not part of the regular medical curriculum - skills that may open doors to a wide range of future research opportunities.

    Although the effects of omega-3s on neuron growth were not found to be statistically significant in Ryan's study, the knowledge he gained stimulated his interest in essential nutrients, which may prove highly important in educating patients about healthy eating. The cell culture components of the project also gave him a new respect for bacteria and the importance of practicing sterile techniques. He believes this awareness will prove especially valuable in furture experiences in surgery.

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