DHRN Background

About Us:

The Disabilities Health Research Network seeks to increase both the quality and the quantity of health research in the disability field. We provide venues for researchers to form connections thereby helping to form new research teams and increasing interrelations.  We also strive to connect community groups, clinicians/practitioners Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 or members with research teams to develop research questions that will have an impact on the disability community. It is our goal to connect members with each other.

An estimated 4.4 million Canadians—one out of every seven in the population - 14.3% —reported having a disability in 2006, an increase of over three-quarters of a million people in five years. - Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS)-

Age Groups Prevalence of disability by age group, Canada, 2006 in %
Total: All Ages 14.3
0 - 4 1.7
5 - 14 4.6
15 - 24 4.7
25 - 34 6.1
35 - 44 9.6
45 - 54 15.1
55 - 64 22.8
65 - 74 33
75 and over 56.3
-Source: Statistics Canada-

 British Columbians and the health research community, have a vested interest in improving the quality of life for B.C. citizens with disability. Research has a crucial role to address the challenges of disability faced by any society.

The primary themes of the Disabilities Health Research Network (DHRN) are to foster high quality research that:

  • Solves real problems for persons with disability
  • Improves clinical practices of relevance to the health of persons with disability
  • Leads to improved policies of relevance to persons with disability

Network Background

Initially developed under the guidance and support of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and the MSFHR Networking Infrastructure Program, the DHRN looked to a selected Ad Hoc Task Force and the province of BC for valuable input on its initial development, within the first two years. Primary DHRN activities included:

  • Investigation of other research networks, especially those in Quebec
  • A comprehensive canvass of B.C. organizations working with disability
  • Three ’Research Halls’ capturing wider input for Network development
  • Collaboration with the other developing MSFHR Research Networks

DHRN Team in Partnership with DHRN Members

The Disabilities Health Research Network (DHRN) recognizes the importance of diversity within disability health research. The DHRN team consists of an eight member  advisory/oversight committee, three  co-leaders and an administrative team all with distinct strengths and disability health knowledge.

DHRN Governance

The Disabilities Health Research Network (DHRN) sees the creation of governance policies as a high priority. With the Network’s vision, mission, and goals in mind, the DHRN team is working towards a complete first draft of a DHRN Governance Document (PDF) for presentation and review.

DHRN Advisory / Oversight Committee

The DHRN is overseen by an 8 member, volunteer advisory/oversight committee with geographic representation from disability and health care communities throughout the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, and Northern B.C. This team includes disability health researchers from B.C.’s major universities and representatives from the BC disability community.

It is the role of the DHRN Advisory/Oversight Committee to provide advice, guidance, and recommendations to the DHRN co-Leaders and administrative team on all network material assigned for their review. The committee is responsible for approving all significant network activities and strategic direction. All key decisions for the network will be approved by majority vote of the DHRN Advisory Committee.

DHRN Advisory/Oversight Committee Members

  • Dr. Hugh Anton, MD, FRCPC; Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Dr. Gary Birch, Executive Director, Neil Squire Society; Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, UBC; Principal Investigator, ICORD
  • Dr. Valorie Crooks, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Tania Lam, Assistant Professor, Human Kinetics, UBC
  • Dr. Rachelle Hole, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, UBC Okanagan, School of Social Work, Faculty of Health & Social Development
  • Dr. Jacek Kopec, MD, PhD; Associate Professor, Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, UBC
  • Jennifer Scrubb, Muscular Dystrophy Canada Exec Director
  • Dr. Lara Boyd, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, UBC Faculty of Medicine

The DHRN leadership is jointly shared between Dr. Lawrence D. Berg, Co-Director, the Centre for Social,Spatial and Economic Justice, Graduate Co-ordinator Human Geography, Community Culture and Global Studies, UBC Okanagan Campus,  Dr. Bonita Sawatzky, Associate Professor with the Department of Orthopaedics, UBC Vancouver Campus and an ICORD Faculty member, Human Discovery Science, and Dr. Chris McBride , Managing Director, ICORD, UBC.

Dr. Lawrence Berg, Dr. Bonita Sawatzky  and Dr. Chris McBride bring diverse researh interests to the DHRN. They believe that strong interpersonal, facilitation and inter-disciplinary leadership skills will lead to successful research and network building experiences.

It is the primary responsibility of the DHRN Co-Leaders to work closely with both the DHRN Advisory Committee and administrative team with the goal of translating the vision of the DHRN into a reality.

DHRN Administrative Team

The DHRN administrative team is comprised of a Director of Programs, Sylvie Zebroff and a Program Manager – Sheila Lewis, both based in the UBC Okanagan office. A part-time DHRN Network Assistant is based at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. It is the responsibility of this team to manage all communications between MSFHR, the DHRN Co-Leaders and the Advisory/Oversight Committee, as well as those with members, other research networks, and DHRN partners and collaborators. The administrative team coordinates and facilitates the execution of all DHRN activities. These include: membership recruitment, workshop and other research and knowledge exchange initiatives, annual conferences, web site development and maintenance, the DHRN Link quarterly newsletter and monthly e-letters.

To reach the DHRN Team, you can easily contact Sylvie Zebroff via:

  • e-mail:dhrn.info@ubc.ca
  • telephone: Sylvie Zebroff 250.807.8793 (Kelowna BC)
  • fax: 250.807.8001 (Kelowna BC)


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