COVID-19 Updates

Dear WHRI community,

As the COVID-19 pandemic has pervaded much of our daily lives and conversations, and as we are adjusting to a new normal of social distancing and working remotely, communication is critically important and the WHRI is being called upon even more as a virtual organization.

In the absence of in-person contact, we have created this page to house, up-to-date researcher resources related to COVID-19. This includes timely announcements, links to academic and health authority partners, funding agency updates, and archives of our weekly WHRI staff + member updates.

Thank you for continuing to do your part to #FlattenTheCurve.


Lori Brotto
Executive Director, Women’s Health Research Institute

Top Stories

UBC is concurrently working out details for a phased return to on-campus work, and has been seeking broad input from the UBC community. Over 950 UBC faculty, Deans, and Associate Deans, Research participated in the virtual town halls and a copy of the slides can be found here (CWL required). Four working groups were struck to examine (1) research funding, (2) research records and career trajectories, (3) graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and (4) shared research facilities, and a summary of their activities can be found here (CWL required). Though the specific details of this plan are still in development, some very helpful guiding principles were announced. These principles will inform the development of our C&W site re-opening process. This is a coordinated effort between the WHRI, the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and the BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services Research Institute. Any plans that impact WHRI staff, researchers, and their teams will be in alignment with the directives set out by the Public Health Office and with the approval of PHSA. 

The UBC Children’s & Women’s REB related COVID documents are now on the website:

The first drop down menu on our homepage contains the initial REB bulletin, guidance for electronic consenting, zoom guidance from UBC and, a document that will hopefully guide everyone during the curtailment period.  

If you have feedback on these resources or would like to have anything added, please contact Jennie Prasad, Manager, UBC/C&W Research Ethics Board, at

REMINDER: Rapid Ethical Review Process for COVID-19 Clinical Research

All COVID-19 related studies are being reviewed by the Research Ethics Board within 5 business days and this review will provide approval on behalf of all affected Health Authorities and, where relevant, BC Children’s and Women’s Hospitals.

More information on the rapid ethical review process can be found here.

The research curtailment process was rolled out on the C&W campus on March 27, 2020, and in alignment with the processes rolled out at UBC, was originally in effect until April 15, 2020. Please be advised of the updated information from UBC regarding research curtailment and remote work arrangements due to COVID-19 which extends curtailment with no fixed end date. WHRI will continue to follow the guidance from the Provincial Health Officer and UBC and will communicate further details with you in the coming weeks. Principal Investigators who wish to still apply for a research exemption, particularly if they are beginning COVID-related research, can do so by following this link:

How does the ongoing extension of the curtailment impact my approved exemption?

If you have an exemption to continue essential research activities at BC Women’s, no further action is needed. You do not need to reapply and we will automatically extend your request.

If you have a fixed-date exemption you must still adhere to the granted exemption date. Principal Investigators who need to extend the period of a WHRI approved exemption should e-mail Dr. Kathryn Dewar ( to request the extension.  A new exemption form is not required if there are no other changes to the project but please state how long you require the extension (set-date or on-going).  Open/ongoing extensions remain valid.

If you have not yet applied for an exemption but may need to, researchers can still make new exemption applications via our online exemption form.

Is there new information for those working onsite under an approved exemption?

Yes. Researchers with current exemptions that involve clinical research on the clinical units at BC Women’s Hospital will have those exemption forms reviewed in the next week. This will be done to ensure that the approved research accounts for updated policies with respect to people flow through the units and use of personal protective equipment to ensure an appropriate balance of risk and benefit.

For all those working onsite under an exemption, please remember that physical distancing, hand washing and laboratory safety must be maintained at all times. Anyone displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 or any other illness — coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing — must stay home. If anyone on your team displays symptoms, please send them home immediately.

We ask that all Principal Investigators discuss this curtailment extension with their research personnel, administrative staff and trainees, and adjust any plans already in place accordingly. For questions related to research operations, institutional approvals, and ethics, please see the following contact information:

Research operations: Dr. Kathryn Dewar, Senior Research Manager WHRI

Research in BCWH Ambulatory Programs: Nicole Prestley, Research Manager

Research in BCWH Maternal Newborn and Maternity Ambulatory Programs: Arezu Moshrefzadeh, Research Manager

Research in BCWH Neonatal Programs: Esther AlonsoPrieto, Research Manager

C&W Research Ethics Board: Jennie Prasad, C&W REB Manager

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) announced the COVID-19 Research Response Fund and First Call for Proposals. The MSFHR will support “projects (that) will build on BC-specific capacities and strengths, draw on available expertise and resources and include cross-institution collaborations.”  The initial deadline for applications is open until May 19, 2020, with maximum award value $150,000 and term of 12 months

Visit for more information.

Research Ethics BC, together with the respective Health Authorities and their clinical Research Ethics Boards (REBs), has launched a new rapid ethical review process for provincial clinical research pertaining to COVID-19. Under this new process, only one REB review will be required for the approval of a provincial clinical study pertaining to COVID-19 and the review will be conducted within five business days from submission. 

What does this mean for researchers?

If your research proposal is for a clinical COVID-19 related stat is intended to take place across some or all Health Authorities, the REB will review the study within five days and provide ethics approval on behalf of all affected Health Authorities and, where relevant, BC Children’s and Women’s Hospitals.

If your proposal iy not  initially intended to take place at multiple provincial sites, a review by one REB will still occur within five days. Other locations may be added later if the study becomes feasible at additional sites.

More information on the rapid ethical review process can be found here.

The BC Children’s Hospital BioBank plans to start collecting leftover and prospective samples from patients and staff tested at the PHSA COVID-19 Outpatient Clinic in the near future. If you or someone you know in the research community are interested in using these samples or collaborating with the BioBank, please contact the BCCH BioBank ​at

Rounds + Resources

Last week the UBC Faculty of Medicine hosted the first Virtual BC COVID-19 Research Symposium.  The symposium was video-recorded and you can view it at the following link:

Virtual grand rounds are taking place on a regular basis and they are a great opportunity to learn more about the emerging evidence and understandings around COVID-19 as they relate to specific patient populations. 

More Info:

UBC Continuing Professional Development has created a COVID-19 Resource Hub:

Are you conducting or plan to conduct COVID-19 related research? The WHRI is interested in learning about any members who have received REB approval to do COVID-19 related research, as well as any WHRI members who plan to undertake COVID-19 related research. If this relates to you, please complete this REDCap Survey (OR paste the link into Google Chrome).  

If you have any questions, please email Kathryn Dewar:



Would you like help with your research tasks? Qualified WHRI research staff are available to assist investigators with research tasks that can be carried out in a remote work environment. Examples of such research tasks include would include protocol development, drafting grant funding and ethics applications, data entry and data cleaning, creating online surveys, social media-based recruitment, among others. 

For more information about the personnel supports that are currently available, please contact Kathryn Dewar (