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About Us


Our mission is to improve the health of individuals and communities through research to inform policy.


  • Protection & promotion of health & human rights

Human rights are essential to promoting health. Research can be an important tool in ensuring human rights are protected. UHRI is guided by the belief that community health is best achieved through efforts that prioritize human rights.

  • Respect

Research that involves marginalized populations is highly sensitive, as many groups have experienced extreme stigma and discrimination. Further, urban health research often takes place at the intersection of complex health, legal, and political frontiers where tensions can be expected to arise. With these issues in mind, a guiding principle of UHRI is that all stakeholders be treated with respect.

  • Collaboration

Urban health is complex and requires that a range of stakeholders work effectively with communities. UHRI investigators place great value on active collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, policy-makers, and others. As well, UHRI regularly seeks the active participation of community members in undertaking and disseminating its research.

  • Adherence to the highest ethical standards
There are many historical instances of unethical research practices with marginalized populations. The UHRI research team is very sensitive to ethical issues specific to research involving marginalized populations and is committed to ensuring that all research activities are held to the highest ethical standards. Accordingly, all research conducted through UHRI is ethically approved by the University of British Columbia–Providence Health Care Research Ethics Board. In addition, the UHRI research team consults with and receives input from its community advisory board and community partners on research activities and ethical considerations.
  • Adherence to the highest scientific standards

Historically, interventions and policies applied in urban settings have not always been subject to rigorous scientific investigation, which makes assessment of their impacts very difficult. Therefore, UHRI is guided by the principle that solutions to community health and social challenges are best addressed through appropriate scientific investigation that informs policy. UHRI investigators believe that there is an ethical obligation for policies to be driven by the best available scientific evidence. Where policies are ineffective or harmful, there is an ethical obligation to alert policy-makers to these concerns.


UHRI research is funded primarily through peer-reviewed grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. UHRI is also supported by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, which is affiliated with Providence Health Care and the University of British Columbia.


The work of the Urban Health Research Initiative is carried out by a team of researchers, students, front-line staff, statisticians, ethnographers, and administrative support personnel.