BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute is pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2023 Outstanding Achievement Awards and the Clinical & Translational Research Seed Grant. These programs, generously funded by the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, play a pivotal role in acknowledging and nurturing excellence within our research community.
The Outstanding Achievement Awards recognize the remarkable accomplishments of our trainees in their research endeavors aimed at improving the health and well-being of children and families. Meanwhile, the Clinical & Translational Research Seed Grant program supports well-defined interdisciplinary research projects, fosters new areas of research, enhances partnerships, and builds leadership capacity for research and clinical trainees and health professionals.
This year’s recipients are:
Outstanding Achievement by an Undergraduate
Jaya Kailley — Robillard Research Team
This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of an undergraduate or medical student whose research curiosity and engagement clearly demonstrate the individual’s potential as a valuable member of the scientific community.
Jaya Kailley completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Integrated Sciences, with a specialization in Behavioural Neuroscience and Physiology, with distinction, from the University of British Columbia (UBC). Since graduating, Jaya has been working with Dr. Julie Robillard and Dr. Jill Dosso on a project to investigate how social robotics can improve the quality of life in children and youth with anxiety. Her research revealed key design features and application areas to inform innovative social robot research and development.
Jaya demonstrates exceptional academic and research excellence, as evidenced by the UBC Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference in 2022, where she received third place for her oral presentation about the social robotics project. Jaya is motivated by passion and dedication to children’s health to continue her research career as a medical student at UBC.
Outstanding Achievement by a Master’s Student
Loryn Byres — Austin Research Team
This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a master’s student whose research skills and analytical capacity clearly demonstrate the individual’s potential as a productive member of the scientific community.
Loryn Byres’s academic journey began with a Master of Science (MSc) in Molecular Genetics from the University of Toronto. Her pursuit of knowledge led her to the UBC MSc in Genetic Counselling program, where she embarked on an ambitious directed studies project under the guidance of Dr. Jehannine Austin and Emily Morris. Her research focused on Autistic adults and their unique perspectives on genetic testing in the context of autism — a first-of-its-kind study.
Loryn’s commitment to academic and research excellence is evident through the successful publication of the study in Genetics in Medicine, which was later presented at both the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics and the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Conference. Since graduating, Loryn has become a co-supervisor to a genetic counselling student and has joined Dr. Stuart Turvey’s research team as a research coordinator.
Outstanding Achievement by a Doctoral Student
Natasha Orr — Yong Research Team
This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a doctoral student whose originality, research ability and capacity for critical thinking show that the individual is likely to become a contributing member of the scientific community.
Dr. Natasha Orr completed her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences at UBC. During her doctoral studies, she collaborated with Dr. Paul Yong to explore the role of central sensitization in endometriosis-associated pain. Dr. Orr’s research findings have shed light on the potential of the Central Sensitization Inventory (CSI) as a valuable pre-operative tool to assist clinicians in identifying patients who are more likely to have persistent pelvic pain after surgery.
Beyond her significant research accomplishments, Dr. Orr has demonstrated academic excellence as a UBC Public Scholar by leading the development of educational videos on endometriosis in collaboration with patient partners. Throughout her PhD program, Dr. Orr contributed to medical education and was awarded a Canadian Association for Medical Education (CAME) Rising Star Certificate of Excellence and Killam Graduate Teaching Assistant Award.
Outstanding Achievement by a Postdoctoral Fellow
Bryn Zomar — Mulpuri Research Team
This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a postdoctoral fellow whose high academic achievements, personal leadership qualities and demonstrated research ability show that the individual is likely to become a future leader in health research.
Dr. Bryn Zomar has been an outstanding and prolific contributor to the field of orthopaedics throughout her academic and professional career. After completing a BSc degree from Thompson Rivers University, she attended the University of Western Ontario, where she received a MSc degree with specialization in Kinesiology and a PhD in Health & Rehabilitation Sciences.
As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Zomar’s research focuses on critical global programs that are unprecedented in scope for pediatric orthopaedics. Most significantly, she co-developed a successful CIHR Project Grant-funded randomized controlled trial looking at the impact of bracing in infants with hip dysplasia. Her contributions hold promise in reshaping the quality of evidence available in the field of orthopaedics on a global scale, ensuring that research endeavours are conducted with equity, diversity and inclusion in mind.
Outstanding Achievement by a Resident
Derek Chan — Vercauteren Research Team
This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a resident whose scholarly activity, diligence and commitment to research inspire other trainees and whose contributions have led to advances in child, youth or women’s health.
Dr. Derek Chan completed his MD and PhD studies at McMaster University with a research background in hematopoietic stem cell biology. Recently, he completed a pediatrics residency at UBC and BC Children’s Hospital, during which he initiated a research project on single-cell profiling of stem and progenitor cells in pediatric aplastic anemia. Notably, he played a pivotal role in establishing a new residency research stream for the Pediatrics Residency Program that will begin in 2024.
Dr. Chan’s professional interests extend beyond conventional boundaries, encompassing non-malignant blood disorders, the pursuit of global health equity and the exploration of medical humanities. Embarking on a new chapter in his career, Dr. Chan is set to commence his fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children this year. His journey exemplifies an outstanding resident on the path toward becoming an excellent future clinician-scientist and mentor.
Outstanding Achievement by a Sub-specialty Resident or Fellow
Brandon Chalazan — Lehman Research Team
This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a clinical sub-specialty resident or fellow whose research initiatives have been pursued in a conscientious, original and competent manner, and who has the potential for academic excellence in their future career in their chosen specialty.
Dr. Brandon Chalazan attended the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where he earned his medical degree and completed a PhD program in Genetics. He also completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois in cardiovascular genetics and had the privilege of working under distinguished mentors like Dr. Ramon Brugada at the Biomedical Research Institute and Dr. Patrick Ellinor at the Broad Institute throughout his academic journey. Dr. Chalazan joined BC Children’s Hospital in 2017 as part of a five-year residency program in medical genetics and is currently in the process of completing his one-year fellowship program in biochemical genetics.
Throughout his clinical training in Vancouver, Dr. Chalazan has been mentored by Dr. Anna Lehman and Dr. Zachary Laksman who have played pivotal roles in shaping his career. Notably, his research has earned him consistent invitations to present at international conferences over the past decade. With several published original articles and abstracts to his name, his collaborations extend far and wide, encompassing local, national and international experts in the field of cardiovascular genetics.
Looking ahead, Dr. Chalazan plans to continue his mission to increase our knowledge and understanding of the genetic and metabolic aspects of inherited cardiovascular conditions. He hopes to bring innovative therapies to the forefront of clinical practice in the near future for fetuses, children and adult patients. Driven by a genuine care for his patients and a curiosity to understand basic underlying mechanisms for treatment, Dr. Chalazan exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding clinician-scientist.
Clinical & Translational Research Seed Grant
Michelle Bauer — Pike Research Team;
Meghan Gilley — Clinical Partner
This BCCHR-funded project is jointly led by Dr. Michelle Bauer and Dr. Meghan Gilley and explores the experiences of emergency room (ER) doctors, parenting practices and their perspectives on children’s play, injury and safety. The project will provide insight into the profound impact of both indirect and direct exposure to witnessing injuries in their occupations and how these exposures affect their parenting practices. Specifically, Dr. Bauer’s research investigates how such experiences and exposures shape their children’s inclination to take risks and explore environments outdoors. While Dr. Gilley is a pediatric emergency physician with prior research and quality improvement interests in pediatric trauma and febrile neonates. By answering these questions, the work will provide more understanding of how parents in emergency and health occupations employ child safety strategies at home and involve themselves in their children’s play activities.