Thompson Rivers University

Supporting innovation and better, healthier lives for British Columbians

October 20, 2023

VANCOUVER (Province of BC news release) – New funding for research infrastructure at B.C. universities is supporting innovative projects, like helping ensure children receive the safest, most effective pain management possible.

“B.C.’s public universities are responsible for life-changing research that has improved the quality of life for people here and around the world,” said Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “Through our continued support of the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF), we are investing in research ensuring our province continues to be at the forefront of the innovation needed to keep improving the lives of British Columbians.”

Through another round of BCKDF funding, the Government of B.C. is providing $2.5 million to support infrastructure at 16 research projects at five universities.

This includes $125,000 for research infrastructure at the Loucks Pain Management Pharmacogenomics (PMP) Lab, which aims to ultimately help guide clinical decision-making for pain management and improve patient outcomes at the BC Children’s Hospital, ultimately lessening the burden of pain for children in B.C.

The goal of the project is to develop a pipeline from genetic discoveries to predictive genetic testing strategies to help select the safest, most effective, and personalized pain medications for children.

“Providing adequate pain treatment for vulnerable B.C. children, such as those with cancer, is critical,” said Catrina Loucks, assistant professor, faculty of medicine, University of British Columbia. “To do this, we need to understand why some children are unable to get pain relief while others are dangerously sensitive to painkillers. By investigating each child’s genetics, our work can empower children and families to help choose the best pain medications for them, which is especially important for young children who cannot articulate their level of pain.”

Other projects supported by the BCKDF include:

  • A Thompson Rivers University tool that can be used by regulatory agencies and cannabis companies to monitor the content of tetrahydro cannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis and enhance the safety of products;
  • UBC-Okanagan research to investigate the capacity of building components, substructures, and sub-assemblies to resist earthquakes and other destructive forces like wind loads, and propose more resilient and sustainable building materials;
  • A digital health technology and data-sharing hub at the University of Victoria to examine healthy vs. harmful behaviours and develop accessible, scalable interventions to address non-communicable chronic diseases;
  • A first-of-its-kind platform at Vancouver Island University that will study the metabolism of tumors by mapping small molecules directly in tissue, to discover new therapeutic targets for cancer immunotherapy;
  • Research at Simon Fraser University to develop accessible physical computing environments to allow blind or low-vision people to practice entry-level electronics and computing skills; and
  • Infrastructure at the University of British Columbia to advance galaxy evolution research with the James Webb Space Telescope and the Gemini Observatory.

“Advancing research infrastructure at public post-secondary institutions is a catalyst for innovation and bolstering B.C.’s global competitiveness,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “Pioneering research, particularly in vital areas like health, directly improves people’s lives and fortifies economic and social development.”

The BCKDF helps grow the economy by improving B.C.’s productivity and competitiveness, which is a key objective of the StrongerBC Economic Plan. Other benefits include potential commercialization, spinoffs, patents, improved environmental management, and discoveries that directly affect the health and well-being of British Columbians.

By investing in research infrastructure projects, the B.C. government is continuing to support post-secondary institutions to build toward a more innovative, sustainable, and inclusive future.


Dr. Shannon Wagner, vice-president research, TRU —

“Thompson Rivers University is proud to lead the way in cannabis research thanks to the support of provincial government funding. Our groundbreaking Capillary Electrophoresis project promises safer and more responsible cannabis use in B.C. by providing regulatory agencies and companies with precise tools to monitor cannabinoid content. Together, we’re shaping a safer and more informed cannabis industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The BCKDF, established in 1998, is the B.C. Government’s primary investment in research infrastructure in the province.
  • Since 2017, the BCKDF has awarded more than $220 million to over 460 projects.
  • Funding is available for research at public post-secondary institutions, research hospitals, and affiliated non-profit organizations.
  • BCKDF supplies funding for qualified projects, covering up to 40% of the total cost.

Universities get research funding

Thompson Rivers University

BCKDF funding amounts and research project descriptions – $77,411

  • Capillary Electrophoresis for Characterization of Pharmacologically Relevant Compounds in the Cannabinoid Industry: $77,411 (researcher: Kingsley Donkor)

The project will provide an analytical tool that regulatory agencies and BC Cannabis companies can use to monitor the content constituents such as tetrahydro cannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in commercial and advanced Cannabis formulations. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) methods will be developed for separating and determining CBD and THC, their metabolites, and acids in commercial Cannabis products. Ultimately the project results will enhance the safety of Cannabis products on the market, and contribute to a safer and more responsible use of cannabis in B.C.

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