We are delighted to announce that Drs. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Aslam Anis and Megan Levings have been awarded the 2022 Faculty of Medicine Distinguished Researcher Awards in recognition of their significant contributions to science and clinical research.
This year’s recipients will be celebrated at the 2022 Faculty of Medicine Awards Reception on October 17, 2022. They will also give a public lecture as part of the Faculty of Medicine’s Research and Trainee Day in spring 2023, which is open to all faculty members, trainees, and staff.
Distinguished Researcher — Clinical: Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose
Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, professor and Canada Research Chair (CRC) in the department of physical therapy, has been recognized for her world-class research on healthy aging and her invaluable mentorship and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
Dr. Liu-Ambrose serves in several major leadership roles, including as co-director of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility; chair of the UBC Institutional Council Research Prizes and Awards, and director of the Falls Prevention Clinic at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. She co-leads the UBC Physical Activity for Precision Health research excellence cluster, which includes more than 50 investigators from UBC and 11 other institutions. At the national level, Dr. Liu-Ambrose co-leads the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Platform.
Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s research program focuses on healthy aging and promoting cognitive health and mobility into old age. Her research has been translated into community programs, clinical care and international guidelines that are helping transform the lives of patients around the globe. Specifically, Dr. Liu-Ambrose’s work has been influential in showing the role of resistance training in promoting cognitive and brain outcomes in older adults.
In collaboration with international experts, Dr. Liu-Ambrose has organized and delivered certified training workshops on falls prevention for health professionals across British Columbia. As an invited expert, she has contributed to global guidelines for falls prevention and recommendations for brain health in older adults. She has secured millions of dollars in individual and collaborative grants to fund this research and has been recognized with numerous local, provincial and national awards.
Dr. Liu-Ambrose has mentored and supervised over 100 students and is dedicated to inspiring students to become life-long, self-directed learners. She is deeply committed to advancing EDI, and as chair of the Institutional Council Research Prizes and Awards is leading changes to promote the celebration of EDI and implementation of EDI processes and metric tracking.
Distinguished Researcher — Foundational: Dr. Aslam Anis
Dr. Aslam Anis is director of the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHEOS), national director of the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network, and a professor and Director pro tem of the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH). He has been recognized for his influential contributions to education and foundational science, including the fields of pharmacoeconomics, pharmaceutical industry regulation and drug pricing.
Trained as an economist, Dr. Anis’ body of work has been influential across a broad spectrum of health research domains, including HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and substance use. As an early champion of patient-oriented, evidence-based decision making, he has informed debate and policy at the provincial, national and international levels.
Dr. Anis’ translational research has resulted in lower costs and better health care for millions of people across Canada and beyond, including people living with HIV around the world. As a leading international scholar on the methodology used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of new drugs, Dr. Anis was appointed by the Government of British Columbia in 1995 to serve as founding director of the Pharmacoeconomic Initiative of BC. In this role, he spearheaded the creation of a multidisciplinary, evidence-based review process that was the forerunner for the Canada-wide Common Drug Review program. Similar methodology has since been adopted internationally in multiple jurisdictions.
As an educator, Dr. Anis launched the unique, executive-style Master of Health Administration at SPPH, which has attained acclaim for training many prominent health administrators and leaders. Currently, he is focused on developing a new training program in global health at UBC.
Dr. Anis has an exceptional track record of mentorship of students and junior faculty. He is a true visionary with regards to prioritizing EDI as essential components defining leadership and research excellence. Dr. Anis’s commitment and dedication to widely sharing his research findings and expert opinion is exemplified through his invited presentations, peer-reviewed manuscripts, and conference proceedings. The breadth of Dr. Anis’ publication record is a testament to the diversity of his scholarly contributions and the wide impact they have achieved.
Dr. Anis’ contributions as a researcher, administrator, mentor, and educator have helped shaped the current landscape and future direction of health research and education in Canada, and he has established himself as one of the pre-eminent health economists and health services and policy researchers of his time.
Distinguished Researcher — Foundational: Dr. Megan Levings
Dr. Megan Levings, a professor in the department of surgery and School of Biomedical Engineering, has been recognized for her distinguished research career, contributions to trainee educational growth, and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
Dr. Levings leads an internationally recognized research team that has made pioneering discoveries into the role of immune regulatory (Treg) cells in transplantation and autoimmune diseases. She is a world leader in the field of human Treg cell biology, notably credited for the creation and translation of CAR Treg cells, a cell therapeutic of great potential that is currently being tested in clinical trials for use in transplantation.
In addition to her outstanding and impactful research in human immunology, Dr. Levings has served in multiple leadership roles in the research community. She currently leads the Childhood Diseases Theme at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, responsible for growing capacity in childhood diseases research, including programs in diabetes, rare diseases, cancer, and immunological diseases. She is the past chair of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) Centres of Excellence and has served in many advisory roles, as journal editor and on multiple grant panels.
Since joining UBC 19 years ago, Dr. Levings has received over $50M in operating grant funding, and contributed to over $50M in successful team grants. Dr. Levings has been a superb mentor and role model to many undergraduate and graduate students, as well as junior colleagues, many of whom are women. She exemplifies the qualities of selflessness, respect, and consideration of others, takes great interest in the wellbeing and success of her students and colleagues with advice and mentorship regarding challenges, especially relating to equity.