The BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) receives approximately 50,000 visits per year, serving as the first point of care for the province’s most critically ill children and youth. Recognizing the increasing demand on the PED to provide care to more children with complex medical and mental health conditions each year, further research is needed to help the department improve the delivery of quality and timely care. Introduced in 2016, the Student-based Applied Research Training (START) Program is comprised of a team of research trainees that help facilitate several research projects currently being conducted in the department. In collaboration with the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR), the START program is dedicated to fulfilling the organization’s mission of conducting translational and clinical research to benefit the health of children and their families.

What is the Purpose of the START Program?

The START program is designed to provide daily research support in the PED. Having specially trained START students screening and enrolling patient participants ensures that research is being performed at a high quality level. The caliber of the students in the program also contributes to creating a positive experience for patients and families participating in research. Participation in the START program provides students who are interested in health professions with a better understanding of how clinical research is conducted, potentially increasing the number of students considering a career in research. 

How can this experience benefit students?

The START program provides students with exposure to the fast-paced, diverse world of emergency medicine. The program is beneficial to students who may be considering graduate studies, professional programs, or other careers in the health care field. The START program allows students to gain first-hand experience with clinical research being conducted in the BCCH PED. Students will have the opportunity to learn about and recruit for studies that use various research methods, including large multi-centre observational studies and clinical trials. In addition, students will have the opportunity to work alongside experienced clinical staff in a tertiary care PED. Working onsite in the BCCH PED provides START students with the chance to engage in inter-professional relationships with nurses, physicians, clinical trainees, and other health care professionals. Reference letters for students in good standing may be available upon request. Performance evaluations and training sessions occur on an ongoing basis to help support students’ learning and growth. 

Roles and Responsibilities of START Trainees

Our START students assist with recruitment activities in the BCCH PED, which includes screening for and approaching potential participants. This involves discussing the purpose of the studies with patients and families and determining eligibility criteria. The student then establishes whether the family is interested in participating and obtains informed consent when appropriate. The student also enrolls participants and obtains research-related data from patient medical records, liaising with clinical staff in the department. Data is then entered into our research database, REDCap. These duties and responsibilities will be performed under the direct supervision of Research Coordinators.

Who is eligible?

Current or returning undergraduate students in 3rd or 4th year, or recently graduated students from an accredited post-secondary program are eligible for this research-training program. Previous research experience is preferred, but not necessary.

What is required?

Students will be asked to commit to four 6-hour shifts per month. Shifts take placed in the PED and run from 1000 – 1600 and 1600 – 2200, seven days a week:

The program runs year-round. All START students must:

  • Submit a Police Records Check for Service with the Vulnerable Sector (valid within 2 years)
  • Complete onboarding training courses through BCCHR
  • Complete online Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS 2) ethics training certificate
  • Complete online Good Clinical Practice (GCP) certificate
  • Attend the START Team orientation training 


To be considered for the START team, applicants should possess:

  • Excellent attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Ability to deal with a diverse population in a calm, courteous, and effective manner
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Efficient time management skills
  • Ability to be self-directed, resourceful, flexible and take initiative
  • Basic proficiency with technology i.e. tablets, PC and Mac operating systems
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and in a team environment
  • Experience interacting with health care providers and patients, collecting data in a research context, and/or a general understand of the PED would be strong assets 

Application procedures

Please email complete applications with all required documents to:

Required documents:

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Letter of Intent (outlining why the applicants wants to be a pediatric emergency medicine research student, approx. 250 words)
  • Unofficial transcript

START Team Members

Dr. Quynh Doan

Dr. Quynh Doan

Investigator and Pediatric Emergency Physician, BC Children’s Hospital

Greg Georgio

Greg Georgio

START Program Coordinator 

Greg is the START Research Coordinator, and has been with the Doan Lab since 2013. Outside of the lab, Greg is an avid runner and skier; next on the agenda is to learn how to ride a bike!

Deenah Laron

Deenah Laron

Deenah is a biochemistry major at UBC. Aside from her interest in pediatrics research, she is also interested in neuroscience and computer science. During her free time, Deenah likes to watch movies, paint, and bake.

Rajan Bola

Rajan Bola

Hello! My name is Rajan and I'm an upper year biology student at UBC. I am passionate about medical research, and I spend my free time volunteering with various public health organizations.

Mitchell Prost

Mitchell is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UBC majoring in Biology and minoring in Behavioural Neuroscience. He is passionate about healthcare and finding ways to give back to the community through volunteering. Outside of school, Mitchell enjoys playing the piano and working in Residence Life at UBC.

Kiki Yu

Kiki is in her final year of undergrad, majoring in Pharmacology at UBC. In addition to the START team, Kiki is involved with cannabis research at the BCCH Research Institute. When she’s not at the hospital, you can find Kiki doing hot yoga, hiking, or making a new music playlist.

Sierra Wessel

Sierra is a fourth year student at UBC studying Physics and Physiology. She is interested in the application of physics to medicine, specifically to the human brain. In her spare time, she enjoys running, playing beach volleyball, and trying the best dessert places in Vancouver.

Kamand Doraki

Kamand is in her last year of a bachelor's degree in Microbiology and Immunology at UBC. She has also been working as a pharmacy assistant for many years and is a research assistant at the Motivated Cognition lab in the psychology department at UBC. At her spare time you can find her watching various movies/shows and listening to music.

Brooke Harris

Brooke Harris

Originally from Vancouver Island, Brooke is in her fourth year at UBC studying behavioural neuroscience and human nutrition. She is passionate about health and well-being and loves working with kids. When not studying, you can find her doing hot yoga, baking or spending time with friends.

Mantej Badhan

Hi! My name is Mantej and I’m currently in my third year at UBC doing a combined major in science. During my free time I love to catch up with friends and family, watch hockey, and travel.

Sana Aghakeshmiri

Sana recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor's degree in Biology. In addition to the START team, Sana is also involved in Cardiovascular research at Centre for Heart Lung Innovation investigating the molecular biology and pathogenesis of Coxsackievirus B3 which is the leading cause of Viral Myocarditis. During her free time, Sana likes to go fur runs, practice kickboxing and watch movies.

Thora Rae

Thora is in her third year studying Kinesiology Health Sciences at UBC. She is interested in the physiological applications of exercise for clinical populations. Outside her academics, Thora is on the UBC field hockey team and the Canadian Junior National team. In her own time, Thora enjoys cooking and being active outdoors. 

Ashini Dissanayake

Ashini is a fourth year Biochemistry student at UBC. Outside of START, she works part-time as a Lifeguard and Swim Instructor, volunteers with harm reduction programs to combat the opioid crisis in the Downtown Eastside, serves as the President of UBC's Women in Science Club, and advises Vancouver city council on decisions pertaining to children and youth as a member of the Children, Youth, and Families Advisory Committee. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, skiing, hiking, and hanging out with her dog, Cody.

Anna Amigut

Anna is a Behavioural Neuroscience major at UBC. Her biggest passions lie in medicine and brain development in children. She also loves spending time outdoors and learning about ecological sustainability. Gardening is one of Anna’s hobbies and she makes it into a challenge by trying to grow a new fruit or vegetable every summer! 

Amy Dhatt

Amy recently graduated from studying biology at UBC. She is interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. In her free time she enjoys volunteering to improve the local environment.

Eric Mann

Eric Mann

Eric is a recent graduate from UBC. He is passionate about giving back to his community through volunteerism, particularly with at-risk populations. Eric is also an avid basketball fan and enjoys meeting new people. He is enjoying dipping his toes into the wonderful world of research with the START Team.