The BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) receives approximately 50,000 visits per year, serving as the first point of care for the province’s most critically ill children and youth. Recognizing the increasing demand on the PED to provide care to more children with complex medical and mental health conditions each year, further research is needed to help the department improve the delivery of quality and timely care. Introduced in 2016, the Student-based Applied Research Training (START) Program is comprised of a team of research trainees that help facilitate several research projects currently being conducted in the department. In collaboration with the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR), the START program is dedicated to fulfilling the organization’s mission of conducting translational and clinical research to benefit the health of children and their families.

What is the Purpose of the START Program?

The START program is designed to provide daily research support in the PED. Having specially trained START students screening and enrolling patient participants ensures that research is being performed at a high quality level. The caliber of the students in the program also contributes to creating a positive experience for patients and families participating in research. Participation in the START program provides students who are interested in health professions with a better understanding of how clinical research is conducted, potentially increasing the number of students considering a career in research. 

How can this experience benefit students?

The START program provides students with exposure to the fast-paced, diverse world of emergency medicine. The program is beneficial to students who may be considering graduate studies, professional programs, or other careers in the health care field. The START program allows students to gain first-hand experience with clinical research being conducted in the BCCH PED. Students will have the opportunity to learn about and recruit for studies that use various research methods, including large multi-centre observational studies and clinical trials. In addition, students will have the opportunity to work alongside experienced clinical staff in a tertiary care PED. Working onsite in the BCCH PED provides START students with the chance to engage in inter-professional relationships with nurses, physicians, clinical trainees, and other health care professionals. Reference letters for students in good standing may be available upon request. Performance evaluations and training sessions occur on an ongoing basis to help support students’ learning and growth. 

Roles and Responsibilities of START Trainees

Our START students assist with recruitment activities in the BCCH PED, which includes screening for and approaching potential participants. This involves discussing the purpose of the studies with patients and families and determining eligibility criteria. The student then establishes whether the family is interested in participating and obtains informed consent when appropriate. The student also enrolls participants and obtains research-related data from patient medical records, liaising with clinical staff in the department. Data is then entered into our research database, REDCap. These duties and responsibilities will be performed under the direct supervision of Research Coordinators.

Who is eligible?

Current or returning undergraduate students, or recently graduated students from an accredited post-secondary program are eligible for this research-training program. Previous research experience is preferred, but not necessary.

What is required?

Students will be asked to commit to four 6-hour shifts per month. Shifts take placed in the PED and run from 1000 – 1600 and 1600 – 2200, seven days a week:

The program runs year-round. All START students must:

  • Submit a Police Records Check for Service with the Vulnerable Sector (valid within 2 years)
  • Complete onboarding training courses through BCCHR
  • Complete online Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS 2) ethics training certificate
  • Complete online Good Clinical Practice (GCP) certificate
  • Attend the START Team orientation training 


To be considered for the START team, applicants should possess:

  • Excellent attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Ability to deal with a diverse population in a calm, courteous, and effective manner
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Efficient time management skills
  • Ability to be self-directed, resourceful, flexible and take initiative
  • Basic proficiency with technology i.e. tablets, PC and Mac operating systems
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and in a team environment
  • Experience interacting with health care providers and patients, collecting data in a research context, and/or a general understand of the PED would be strong assets 

Application procedures

Please email complete applications with all required documents to:

Required documents:

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Letter of Intent (outlining why the applicants wants to be a pediatric emergency medicine research student, approx. 250 words)
  • Unofficial transcript

START Team Members

Dr. Quynh Doan

Dr. Quynh Doan

Investigator and Pediatric Emergency Physician, BC Children’s Hospital

Greg Georgio

Greg Georgio

START Program Coordinator 

Greg is the START Research Coordinator, and has been with the Doan Lab since 2013. Outside of the lab, Greg is an avid runner and skier; next on the agenda is to learn how to ride a bike!

Mitchell Prost

Mitchell is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UBC majoring in Biology and minoring in Behavioural Neuroscience. He is passionate about healthcare and finding ways to give back to the community through volunteering. Outside of school, Mitchell enjoys playing the piano and working in Residence Life at UBC.

Kiki Yu

Kiki is in her final year of undergrad, majoring in Pharmacology at UBC. In addition to the START team, Kiki is involved with cannabis research at the BCCH Research Institute. When she’s not at the hospital, you can find Kiki doing hot yoga, hiking, or making a new music playlist.

Kamand Doraki

Kamand is in her last year of a bachelor's degree in Microbiology and Immunology at UBC. She has also been working as a pharmacy assistant for many years and is a research assistant at the Motivated Cognition lab in the psychology department at UBC. At her spare time you can find her watching various movies/shows and listening to music.

Brooke Harris

Brooke Harris

Originally from Vancouver Island, Brooke is in her fourth year at UBC studying behavioural neuroscience and human nutrition. She is passionate about health and well-being and loves working with kids. When not studying, you can find her doing hot yoga, baking or spending time with friends.

Thora Rae

Thora is in her third year studying Kinesiology Health Sciences at UBC. She is interested in the physiological applications of exercise for clinical populations. Outside her academics, Thora is on the UBC field hockey team and the Canadian Junior National team. In her own time, Thora enjoys cooking and being active outdoors. 

Ashini Dissanayake

Ashini is a fourth year Biochemistry student at UBC. Outside of START, she works part-time as a Lifeguard and Swim Instructor, volunteers with harm reduction programs to combat the opioid crisis in the Downtown Eastside, serves as the President of UBC's Women in Science Club, and advises Vancouver city council on decisions pertaining to children and youth as a member of the Children, Youth, and Families Advisory Committee. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, skiing, hiking, and hanging out with her dog, Cody.

Anna Amigut

Anna is a Behavioural Neuroscience major at UBC. Her biggest passions lie in medicine and brain development in children. She also loves spending time outdoors and learning about ecological sustainability. Gardening is one of Anna’s hobbies and she makes it into a challenge by trying to grow a new fruit or vegetable every summer! 

Amy Dhatt

Amy recently graduated from studying biology at UBC. She is interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. In her free time she enjoys volunteering to improve the local environment.

Eric Mann

Eric Mann

Eric is a recent graduate from UBC. He is passionate about giving back to his community through volunteerism, particularly with at-risk populations. Eric is also an avid basketball fan and enjoys meeting new people. He is enjoying dipping his toes into the wonderful world of research with the START Team.

Nikola Deretic

Nikola Deretic

Nikola recently graduated from UBC where he majored in Microbiology and Immunology. Besides research with the Pediatric Emergency Department, he is passionate about research in immunology and liver disease. In his free time, Nikola enjoys soccer and hockey.

Kevin An

Kevin is a fifth-year student majoring in Pharmacology. He is passionate about providing younger students with experiential learning opportunities. In addition to the START team, he is currently involved in drug delivery research at UBC. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to new music, playing table tennis, and watching new shows on Netflix.

Sean Harrigan

Sean Harrigan

Sean is in his last year of his master's program at the School of Population and Public Health at UBC. Currently, he is studying how the built environment influences breast cancer risk in BC, as well as working on COVID-19 surveillance of healthcare workers in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. In his time off, he likes playing sports, guitar, and going skiing.

Arian Sadigpour

Arian Sadigpour

Arian is in his third year of the Integrated Sciences program at UBC. In addition to the START Team, he is a Work Learn employee in a genetics lab at UBC, volunteers with the Hemodialysis Unit at Vancouver General Hospital, serves as a Vision Mate for the CNIB Foundation, facilitates the fall and spring elections for students in the Faculty of Science, and periodically writes for the university newspaper. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and spending time with friends and family.

Juliette Wong

Juliette is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UBC studying kinesiology and psychology. Outside of school, she is a kids' gymnastics coach and advocacy event coordinator. She is passionate about working with children and challenging health inequities. In her free time, Juliette enjoys photography, being active outdoors, and hanging out with her dog, Mr. Bean.

Yury Onikashvili

Yury Onikashvili

Yury is a third-year student studying Chemical Biology at UBC. He was inspired by his great-grandmother Tamara, who was a surgeon in the republic of Georgia, to pursue medical research. In his free time, he is scouring Vancouver for good food, studying with friends, or playing the bass guitar.

Tatiana Henriksson

Tatiana Henriksson

Tatiana is a third-year undergraduate student at UBC studying Behavioural Neuroscience Science and Physiology. She is interested in how the mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health affect one’s overall health and well-being, particularly in the pediatric population. Besides her studies, Tatiana loves to run, ski, and take long walks with her dog whenever she can!