3 Department of Medicine members receive the 2018 MSFHR Health Professional-Investigator Award

Dr. Thalia Field, Dr. Del Dorscheid , and Dr. Melanie Murray  have received the 2018 MSFHR Health Professional-Investigator Award

The MSFHR Health Professional-Investigator (HP-I) Program is designed to develop BC’s research talent and help decrease the gap between health research and its implementation. The awards support health professionals who are actively involved in patient care to conduct and apply research relevant to health and/or the health system.

The HP-I Program was developed in response to consultations with stakeholders across the province who identified a need to help health professionals apply their practical expertise to fill research gaps. Each award recipient will receive a salary contribution to help them protect time for research for up to five years, or support research personnel directly associated with their work.


Dr. Thalia Field, Assistant Professor, Division of Neurology

SECRET: Study of rivaroxaban for CeREbral venous Thrombosis

Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) is a rare type of stroke that can cause headaches, vision loss, weakness, seizures and coma. It is most common in young women and causes 1/3 of strokes that occur around pregnancy. Among those affected, up to 15% are left dead or disabled, 25% cannot return to work, and over half have lasting issues with energy, thinking or mood.

As a rare disease, CVT is hard to study in large trials, and treatment decisions are based on clinician opinion. CVT is treated with strong blood thinners, but it is not clear which blood thinner is best or how long people should be treated. We are conducting a national study to determine the best way to treat CVT.

Collaborating with 18 other hospitals we will recruit patients from across the country. People living outside of major cities can participate in the study over video-conference and we will also hold forums to consult with patients and family members about lasting symptoms that affect their quality of life.

Our aim is to improve treatments for CVT, and better understand its long-term effects. We also want to continue to expand our video-conference network so that people with health issues will be able to access research treatments, regardless of where they live.


Dr. Del Dorscheid, Associate Professor, Division of Critical Care

IgE-mediated inflammation generated by the airway epithelium is antigen independent-a cause of a novel asthma phenotype

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood and continues to increase through adulthood. When a patient has asthma, airways in the lungs become swollen and tight causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and cough. Current therapies for asthma relieve symptoms but do not restore airways back to normal function or cure the disease.

Asthma is influenced by many different genetic and environmental factors, so despite having many drugs available and more in development it is extremely difficult to match patients to the right treatment. To better match patients to the right therapies we need to understand the process by which allergies lead to asthma.

This project aims to find new ways to predict the response of asthmatic patients to existing and new drugs by better understanding how allergies cause asthma symptoms. We will look at several molecules in the blood known to be important in asthma, and measure them in airway tissues and cells obtained from asthmatic and non-asthmatic patients. This will give us a much better picture of what these important molecules are doing directly at the source of the allergic inflammation.


Dr. Melanie Murray, Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Disease

Individual disposition and mHealth: Personalized care to improve outcomes

Today the greatest barrier to optimal health among persons living with HIV (PLWH) is antiretroviral (ART) adherence. The WelTel program uses weekly text-messages to improve ART adherence and HIV viral suppression among PLWH, but does not work for everyone. The literature states that personality traits and sense of purpose (dispositional traits) play a role in HIV-related outcomes. Measuring disposition is simple and rapid, and could be used to personalize adherence supports for clients with relative ease.

We will enrol 300 PLWH from three Vancouver HIV clinics into the WelTel program. Participants will receive a basic cell phone and phone plan if they do not have one, and receive a weekly (two-way) text message for 12 months asking ‘How are you?’. Problem responses will be triaged by a nurse.

We will use existing validated tools to measure disposition at baseline/over time to determine whether we can predict who is most likely to benefit from the WelTel program, and how WelTel works to enact behaviour change. In this way we hope to provide a means by which limited resources could be triaged in vulnerable populations struggling with adherence to provide well-suited programs to the greatest number of individuals possible.


Please join us in congratulating Dr. Field, Dr. Dorscheid, and Dr. Murray on this wonderful achievement.