Undergraduate Summer Research Program

Centre for Blood Research Summer Studentship Program

Are you an undergraduate or medical student looking for summer research experience? The Centre for Blood Research Summer Studentship Program provides students with an opportunity to get hands-on research experience during the summer months and to present their research at Research Day. This program also enhances the summer students’ learning with research skills workshops, career development events, and complementary social events.

Competition for the 2024 Program is now closed.

Please contact Kaitlyn Chuong (kaitlyn.chuong@ubc.ca) if you have any questions about the program.

Description & Eligibility:

This is the description & eligibility for the 2024 Summer Studentship Program. Details may change for future programs.

  • Summer students receive an award of $6,000 from CBR; $3,500 + benefits from PI for the duration of the research project (up to 16 weeks).
    • The award will be disbursed as a monthly payment.
  • These awards are designated for undergraduate students or medical students who are interested in working under the supervision of a CBR Principal Investigator (PI), Research Associate (RA), or Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) over the summer period (May to August).
  • Projects are 16 weeks in length. Shorter periods can be accommodated (i.e., medical students), upon notification to the CBR Communications and Programs Coordinator, Kaitlyn Chuong.
  • Project scope is not limited to basic science/clinical research, and can include science education/communication projects. If conducting research in-person, students must abide by their workplace COVID-19 safety policies. The award expects that students will be conducting research for 35 hours per week.
  • Successful student applicants:
    • Are required to participate in a presentation of their work or work-in-progress at the CBR Research Day (August 15, 2024; anticipated to be held in-person at the Life Sciences Centre).
    • Are required to participate in all CBR-organized summer events (see ‘Award Conditions’). Some events are expected to take place virtually, while others are expected to take place in-person.
    • Are required to submit a 1-page written report that includes a summary of their research project, a reflection of their Program experience, and an assessment of the overall Program.
    • Are required to complete an end-of-program online survey.
    • Are NOT eligible to hold both a CBR Summer Studentship and any other funding (e.g., NSERC URSA) during the CBR Summer Studentship funding period (May to August).
  • Students and PIs are encouraged to discuss project expectations, schedules, and timelines in advance of agreeing to apply together.
  • The CBR should be acknowledged in publications and presentations of work arising from this award.

Competition for the 2024 Program is now closed.

To apply:

  • Contact a CBR Principal Investigator, Postdoctoral Fellow, or Research Associate you are interested in working with. It is good practice to send them your resume, cover letter, transcript and/or statement of interest.
  • Complete the application package:
    • Once you and your supervisor have agreed to apply for the Program, you will work with your supervisor to complete and submit an application.
    • Submit your application package to Kaitlyn Chuong (kaitlyn.chuong@ubc.ca). Please email the application package as a single PDF file.
    • Applicants will be contacted in late March/early April with the results of the competition.

Please contact Kaitlyn Chuong (kaitlyn.chuong@ubc.ca) if you have any questions about the program.

Q: I am an international student at UBC. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes, international students who are currently registered at UBC are eligible to apply.

Q: I am a student studying outside of UBC. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes, students who are currently registered at a recognized Canadian university are eligible to apply.

Q: I am an undergraduate student graduating in May. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes, undergraduate students are eligible to hold a CBR Summer Studentship award in the semester immediately following graduation.

Q: I received a CBR Summer Studentship award in the past. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes, past awardees are eligible to apply; however, funding is not guaranteed.

Q: When will successful applicants be announced?

A: Funding decisions will be announced near late March/early April.

Q: Can I accept the CBR Summer Studentship award in addition to another summer research award?

A: Students are NOT eligible to hold both a CBR Summer Studentship and any other funding (e.g., NSERC URSA) during the CBR Summer Studentship funding period (May to August).

Q: Do I have to attend all of the CBR events? Will they be offered virtually? 

A: Attending all of the CBR events is a requirement of the CBR Summer Studentship Program award. This year the events will be held in-person, not virtually or hybrid unless the CBR/facilitator/mentors request for it to be on Zoom and this will be communicated with you. If you unexpectedly need to miss an event due to a personal emergency, Kaitlyn Chuong (kaitlyn.chuong@ubc.ca) immediately.

What past participants said about the Summer Studentship Program:

Jasmin Malhi, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: The procoagulant coronavirus surface
Supervisor(s)/Collaborator(s): Dr. Michael Sutherland, Dr. Ed Pryzdial

Prior to the CBR-SBME, I conducted a 4th year Directed Studies project in the Pryzdial Lab and I am grateful to continue my project via the summer studentship. Through the CBR-SBME summer studentship program, I have had the opportunity to learn and develop many skills in and out of the laboratory through wet laboratory experience and CBR-SBME workshops. Over the past year, specifically during the summer studentship, I have gained valuable experiences through mentorship from my supervisors and lab mates.

In addition to the lab experience, the CBR-SBME summer studentship program’s various skill and career development workshops have provided me with insight into project and time management techniques and allowed me to develop my scientific thinking and skills. The various seminars and social events allowed me to meet my summer student peers and industry professionals who provided insight into careers in research.

Overall, I am incredibly fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the CBR-SBME summer studentship program. I thank the CBR-SBME team for their hard work throughout the summer.

Marcus Shew, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: Fatty whole blood donation and red blood cell quality
Supervisor(s)/Collaborator(s): Dr. Narges Hadjesfandiari, Dr. Dana Devine

Without a doubt, my time in the CBR Summer Studentship program was an enriching educational experience. It was an invaluable opportunity to work hands on in a wet lab setting- as well as to see the day-to-day operations of an operational research laboratory. As an undergraduate student, to see the scientific concepts taught in the classroom, from analytical chemistry to cell biology, in real applications made me even more excited for my education and for research.

Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that summer students have access to lunch seminars from CBR labs presenting their research and career workshops. Between working with graduate students and researchers who have been role models and provided insight through their stories; and these presentations, I feel I have gained a much better appreciation for the world of scientific research.

Ultimately, this program has been an enriching experience and I would like to thank Dr. Narges Hadjesfandiari, Dr. Dana Devine, and members of the Devine Lab for their enthusiastic support on my project studying the effects of short-term dietary fat on the quality of blood donations. As well, thank you to the CBR & SBME Summer Studentship programs for this incredible opportunity.

Melody Weng, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: Evaluating the effects of calcium flashers on increasing calcium administration rates and improving markers of blood coagulation
Supervisor(s)/Collaborator(s): Mina Salehi, Xiu Qing Wang, Kanwal Deoh, Sakara Hutspardol, Jian Mi, Phillip Dawe, Dr. Andrew Shih

This summer in the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program, I had the honour of working on a project investigating the efficacy of the current calcium administration system at Vancouver General Hospital, and how it improves trauma patient outcomes. This project is needed because when trauma patients receive large amounts of blood products via transfusion, components in bagged blood actually bind to their blood’s calcium stores, causing hypocalcemia and reducing their blood’s coagulative ability-- along with other physiological risks. Thus, the VGH trauma department is testing the efficacy of a new “Calcium Flasher” system, which consists of reminders in packs of blood products used in massive transfusions that remind physicians to administer extra calcium whenever blood products are given. This system aims to reduce hypocalcemia, improve hemostasis, and improve trauma patient outcomes.

I am grateful for this opportunity to work with physicians and medical residents in improving the quality of preventative medicine, as well as to participate in professional development workshops and make new friends to enjoy my summer with. After my time in this program, I am more ready than ever for a career in healthcare leadership and to participate in future clinical research. Special thanks for Dr. Parvin Bolourani for being such a kind, supportive program coordinator and making this summer an absolute blast! And shoutout to Dr. Andrew Shih for being a knowledgeable and supportive supervisor. Wouldn’t have made it this far without you guys!

Paniz Ghavimi, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: Development of antiinflammatory coatings for biomedical devices
Supervisor: Dr. Ed Conway

The CBR Summer Studentship Program was a great opportunity, where I had a chance to be part of the wonderful CBR community and an amazing research lab. I was mentored by incredible people more specifically by Kevin Gonzalez and Dr. Edward Conway, where I learned various techniques and gained valuable lab and research experience. Additionally, during this program, I had a chance to participate in many helpful synergy workshops, the CBR Summer Seminars, socials, and Research Day. The Research Day provided an opportunity for me and other summer students to practice our science communication skills, present our summer research, and learn about each other's projects. Overall, the CBR Summer Studentship was an absolutely wonderful program, and I feel so lucky that I was able to be part of it. I am so grateful for my mentors, the program coordinators Parvin, Danielle, Jocelyn, and the CBR community. I am looking forward to future CBR opportunities.

Ralph Uy, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: The effects of pen ink and surface disinfectants on red blood cells stored in plasticized polyvinylchloride transfusion bags
Supervisor(s)/Collaborator(s): Dr. Katherine Serrano, Dr. Narges Hadjesfandiari, Dr. Andrew Shih, Dr. Dana Devine

I have thoroughly enjoyed the CBR program. Being a part of it has literally changed my life in 16 weeks. I am grateful for the new friends I’ve met along the way and also to my lab, supervisor, and PI for being very supportive and helpful with my research. I would definitely do it again next year if I can.

Sofia Levy, 22022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: Bridging the lifespan gap: Why do women living with HIV age faster?
Supervisor(s)/Collaborator(s): Tetiana Povshedna, Dr. Hélène Côté

The CBR Summer Studentship Program was such an amazing opportunity to practice my science communication skills and to gain valuable research experience! I had a fantastic time presenting and learning about the impressive research done in the other CBR labs on Research day. I am so honoured to have been awarded the people’s choice award, it’s great to know that the research done at the Côté Lab resonated with the audience. Looking to the future I’m excited to continue my project with the BCC3 study with the help of my fantastic mentors on the study team. I aim to continue to learn more about actionable ways to improve the healthy aging of women living with HIV.

Tien Do, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Student
Project: Synergistic effects of antibiofilm peptides and conventional antibiotics on Pseudomonas aeruginosa and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilms
Supervisor(s)/Collaborator(s): Dr. Evan F. Haney, Dr. Robert E.W. Hancock

This summer opportunity has allowed me to learn so much from experienced researchers as well as fellow students. As much as I enjoyed my time in the lab, CBR program allowed me to experience a wonderful research opportunity like a graduate student. Not only I got to manage my own project, I was also able to prepare for lab presentations, speech, and research poster for CBR Research Day just like a conference. Coming out of the program, I reaffirm my passion for scientific research and am eager to learn more about medical research field. In addition, I had accumulated innumerable advice from experienced researchers, industry workers, and graduate students in order to explore my career path. I got to see what different scientific positions have to offer and which degrees are associated with it. This summer has been a great learning experience for me as I enjoyed every minute working in the lab and presenting my work to experienced researchers and fellow undergraduate students.

Headshot of Parvin Malhi

Parvin Malhi

Parvin Malhi, 2021 Summer Research Student
Project: Exploring the Potential of Convalescent Plasma Therapy and Other Experimental Therapies as an Intervention in the Pandemic Response; CONCOR-1 as a case study
Supervisors: Dr. Andrew Shih, Dr. Krisztina Vasarhelyi and Dr. Maya Gislason

The CBR-SBME Summer Studentship has been such an amazing experience and I am so grateful to have been a part of this year’s cohort.

This summer, I worked with Dr. Andrew Shih, Dr. Krisztina Vasarhelyi, and Dr. Maya Gislason on a case study that followed the implementation of the CONCOR-1 trial in British Columbia. This clinical trial examined the safety and efficacy of administering convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients as compared to standard of care. The purpose of this study is to inform future pandemic planning so that experimental therapies such as convalescent plasma can reach patients in a timely, safe, and equitable manner.

I truly appreciated how this program supported me in ways beyond Research Day by hosting professional development workshops, organizing social events, and having Seminar Series on current CBR research. Despite the virtual format, I loved the sense of community that this program fostered and the care that CBR and SBME demonstrated through the check-in sessions. My experience with this program coupled with the amazing mentorship of my supervisors has furthered my passion for clinical research.

I am looking forward to continuing with such a welcoming and supportive research community!

Headshot of James (Hyun Ku) Chae

James (Hyun Ku) Chae

Hyun Ku (James) Chae, 2021 Summer Research Student
Project: Validation of human islet calcium-regulated genes and subtype markers
Supervisors: Samantha Yoon and Dr. Francis Lynn

First and foremost, I must show my utmost gratitude to my amazing supervisor Samantha Yoon and the Lynn Lab for this research opportunity during this past summer. I also must thank the people behind the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship for a well-organized and effective program. Not only did I get a full-time research experience in which I tackled my very own project for the whole summer, but I was also given the opportunity to attend enlightening and informative skill sessions and seminars. I am sure that my summer with this program will help me in my future research and career goals. I thoroughly enjoyed the many aspects of the program and highly recommend it for any and all students who have an interest in research.

Mahta Amanian, 2020 Summer Research Student
Project: Genome-Wide pathogenicity hunt in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Supervisors: Christine Yang, Dr. Amy Lee, and Dr. Bob Hancock

Mahta Amanian presenting during Virtual Research Day 2020

The CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program was an amazing experience and I am so grateful for being awarded this opportunity. The ability to work on a research project and present to the scientific community despite the unique nature of this summer was very valuable.

For my research project, I worked on a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) with guidance from my remarkable supervisors, Christine Yang, Dr. Amy Lee, and Dr. Bob Hancock. The objective of my project was to perform a comprehensive study on Pseudomonas aeruginosa by first validating a GWAS software, De Bruijn Graph GWAS (DBGWAS), using ciprofloxacin resistance genes as a control so that we could then use the tool to identify novel mutations that contribute to pathogenicity. Although bioinformatics was fairly new to me, I had a lot of support from my supervisors and I have gained more confidence in computing.

Throughout the program, I have met many great individuals who are just as passionate about research as I am. Through workshops and one-on-one support sessions, I have learned a number of skills that I know have made me a better science communicator and researcher. Thank you so much for making the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program a possibility!

Cecilia H. Kim, 2020 Summer Research Student
Project: Iron-overload induced oxidative stress in myelodysplastic syndromes and its cellular sequelae
Supervisor: Dr. Heather A. Leitch

Cecilia H. Kim

"This summer, through the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship program, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Heather Leitch to investigate the cellular impacts of iron overload (IOL) due to blood transfusions in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). My project consisted of conducting a literature review of clinical and pre-clinical data and preparing figures to help communicate the relevance of IOL to MDS pathophysiology. I also took the lead in writing certain sections of the paper that we submitted to the Critical Reviews in Oncology and Hematology journal at the end of my project, which was an incredible learning experience!

The Summer Studentship Program was a wonderful opportunity where I was able to learn new skills through virtual workshops, connect with other research students, and learn from an amazing mentor. My experience with the program, combined with Dr. Leitch’s patient guidance and inspiring passion for her patients as well as her research, consolidated my desire to pursue clinical and medical research as a career.

I am so grateful to Dr. Leitch and the CBR and SBME for allowing me to have such a meaningful experience!"

Polina Petlitsyna, 2020 Summer Research Student
Project: Communicating science to senior learners
Supervisor: Dr. Jenna Usprech

Polina Petlitsyna

"I am beyond grateful to have been a part of this year’s cohort for the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship program. My project revolved around developing and delivering virtual cell biology lessons to a cohort of senior learners, with the broader aim of improving their scientific trust in light of COVID-19.

This summer could not be complete without Dr. Jenna Usprech’s brilliant guidance - she made my first research project a truly memorable experience. All in all, the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program was a hub of unforgettable opportunities; I especially enjoyed the professional development workshops and the virtual Seminar Series on current CBR research. Despite the unprecedented nature of 2020, this program stayed just as organized and aware of its students and supervisors’ needs, which I appreciated. Seeing such a small community come together (virtually) and share their progress during Research Day was very inspiring!

I would like to extend more thanks to the staff over at CBR and SBME - this program could not have excelled without your hard work and support! I am looking forward to working with more amazing members of this research community in the near future.”

Rafid Haq, 2020 Summer Research Student
Project: Predictors of Methotrexate Intolerance in Children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Supervisor: Drs. Kelly Brown & Martina Sundqvist

Rafid Haq presenting for Virtual Research Day 2020

"The CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program was a wonderful experience and I am extremely grateful to have been a part of the 2020 cohort. I had been involved in research before, but only in a limited capacity that was able to be expanded thanks to this program. The objective of my project was to analyze clinical and genetic parameters of patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), in order to determine predictors of intolerance to the first line treatment of the disease, methotrexate.

I got to work closely with Dr. Martina Sundqvist of the Brown Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, who was an excellent mentor and guide in my first paid research experience. The program workshops, despite the online format, truly exhibited a care for the professional development of us summer students. CBR Research Day was an especially enjoyable time, allowing me to give a research presentation for the first time, as well as see all the interesting projects the other students had worked on this summer!

Thank you so much to the organizers at CBR and SBME for their work in making this program so fulfilling!"

Ella Chan, 2020 Summer Research Student
Project: Developing Tools to Improve Parent Health Literacy in Nephrotic Syndrome
Supervisor: Dr. Jenna Usprech

Ella Chan's presentation during Virtual Research Day 2020

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the Centre for Blood Research and School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) at UBC this summer, and to have been awarded a Summer Studentship. This summer, I worked on a project that aimed to increase health literacy and public trust in science with Dr. Jenna Usprech. For my specific project, I decided to focus on exploring ways to improve health literacy in families with children being treated for nephrotic syndrome. Through the development of Zoom-based lessons and interactions with patients and families, I was able to explore my lesson plans as avenues for improving parent health literacy in the context of the disease.

Overall, the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship was an incredible opportunity. I loved the integration of professional development (Zoom-presentation lessons and skills for online public speaking) and research talks. I also appreciated the community fostered by the program despite the online limitations. Through meet-and-greets, activities and the final presentation day, I felt connected to my colleagues in the program despite never having met them in person!

Thank you again, to the CBR and SBME Summer Studentship program!"

Ella's Summer Studentship research project continued after she completed the program. She developed and published a document toolkit on her project, which focused on improving parent health literacy in nephrotic syndrome! See her project here.

Meredith Clark presenting her poster at CBR Research Day 2019

Meredith Clark, who won best Best Oral Presentation for CBR Research Day 2019, presents her poster at the event

Meredith Clark, 2019 Summer Research Student
Project: Endothelial Cell Growth Under Shear Stress to Model Physiological Vasculature for Biomedical Experiments
Supervisor: Dr. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu

From a BCIT story on career and skill development in the sciences: 

“Being in a research lab is quite different from a teaching lab. [At CBR] I learned how to culture cells and use many instruments that we don’t necessarily get hands-on experience with in school. After one month of training, I was on my own, conducting my own experiment. It was pretty neat.”

Read Meredith's full story on the BCIT website here.

Sia Cecilia Jan-Abu, 2019 Summer Research Student
Project: Modulation of the Immune System as possible therapy for Muscular Dystrophy
Supervisor: Dr. Kelly McNagny

Sia Cecilia Jan-Abu at CBR Research Day 2019.

"I am extremely grateful to be part of the 2019 cohort to receive the CBR/SBME summer studentship award. Before this summer I knew very little about research and academics outside of the classroom, but I have now found a new/renewed love for science and research. I did my summer research project titled "Modulation of the Immune System as possible therapy for Muscular Dystrophy" in the McNagny Lab (Biomedical Research Centre). This project allowed me to develop a hypothesis and follow through with experiments. I learnt the importance of paying attention to detail and time management especially when planning and conducting sensitive experiments. But I think some of the most valuable lessons I learnt this summer were learnt out of the lab. Being able to prepare and present my work to my peers and other scientists at the CBR Research Day was very beneficial. It was not only great practice of my presentation skills, but it tested my understanding of the work I had done, and I am so honoured to have been awarded best presenter. Furthermore, attending scientific conferences and meetings added another layer to an already holistic experience. I truly appreciate all the CBR/SBME staff and the McNagny lab for all their amazing support and direction."

Amardeep Sekhon, 2019 Summer Research Student
Frequency of Positive Antibody Screens on patients with Serial Group and Screens Every 3 Days (PASSeS 3D Study)
Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Shih

Amardeep (left) with his supervisor Dr. Andrew Shih at CBR Research Day 2019.

"As someone who recently finished up his first year of undergraduate studies and had no prior research experience, I cannot thank the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) enough for the opportunity to get an early start in clinical research and develop my skills.

The research study I have been working on in the summer is called the PASSeS 3D Study (Frequency of Positive Antibody Screens on Patients with Serial Group and Screens Every 3 Days), which is currently investigating a 3-day protocol for pre-transfusion compatibility testing at the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

With this studentship being my first immersion into clinical research, I did not know what to expect – I initially had this notion that it would simply be non-stop data collection and analysis but looking back I learned so much from the experience. Working with post-graduate medical residents on a daily basis under the supervision of a staff physician has taught me so much about what it takes to be successful not only in clinical medicine, but in academia.  The unparalleled guidance and mentorship I have received from Dr. Andrew Shih, Dr. Bhupinder Johal and Dr. Ann Tran, has made me realize that medicine and research is something I would pursue after my undergraduate studies. The meaningful professional relationships I have built I feel will serve me very well in making sure those dreams are a reality.

Overall, I am looking forward to remain being a part of the vibrant research community at the CBR and remain being involved in the research there."