Research Ideas in the Context of COVID-19


This message is being sent on behalf of Dr. Kim McGrail and is intended for wide distribution – please feel free to share with your BC-based academic colleagues.


Dear BC Research Community:

Many of you have been in contact with PopData and other research-supporting groups to ask how to fast-track research related to covid-19. We are keen to help advance this cause, specifically related to understanding the data and support infrastructure that will be needed. To get things started, I would like to collect and collate your emerging research (that is, not currently funded or even necessarily fully developed) ideas and related data and support needs. These will be summarized and used to continue conversations with the Ministry of Health, and will enable making a strong case for a covid-specific research data platform.

To complete the survey for covid-19 projects, click here:



There is excellent work being done by the BCCDC, PHSA more broadly, and the Ministry of Health to monitor and model the current spread and to plan for system readiness, as well as biomedical research related to vaccine development. At the same time, it is clear that there are many excellent ideas for research that would complement and augment this existing work.

There is also additional capacity for research because of the curtailment of some clinical activities. I think we all just fundamentally feel motivated to engage in research that is meaningful and could contribute in some way to our current situation.

Efforts are underway to create fast-track funding opportunities, as we’ve already seen from this week’s CIHR announcement. Given this, and after consultation with many individuals and organizations in BC and across the country, we hope you will answer a few questions that will help understand the range of research ideas you believe are relevant to the current context, and the infrastructure that you believe will be necessary for your success. This information will help immensely in understanding the data and related supports that are essential to support research. It will also enable us to speak as a community about the broad array of research that is needed to support our response to the pandemic, now and in the coming months.

While I am not in a position to promise support for every research idea, we will review and summarize your comments, and use that in discussions with the Ministry of Health and others about the potential to set up a covid-specific research data platform. This summary will of course be shared with you as well.

The Ministry of Health and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research are supporting the collection of ideas from elsewhere, including the health authorities, and these various collections will be part of a provincial initiative underway to map research related to COVID-19 overall, including ideas, needs, existing funded research, upcoming calls etc., and to respond with funding and support as possible. Plans for a similar process with public / patient / community groups are also under discussion, as those perspectives on unanswered questions are very important now as well.

Please follow the link above to respond to a short survey that will ask you questions about your research ideas, the data needed to pursue those, and the tools and supports needed to conduct this work.

Many thanks for your assistance with this, and please be in touch if you have questions or other comments.


Kim McGrail
Professor | CHSPR and School of Population and Public Health
Director of Research | UBC Health
Scientific Director | Population Data BC
CEO and Scientific Director | Health Data Research Network Canada