Research Projects


Here are some research projects that have happened or are happening in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Here is some information about the DTES neighbourhood and its history.

All of the people leading research projects on this page have volunteered to share their information with us, and many have provided more information about themselves and their research in the directory. We hope this page will highlight university research that is happening in the DTES, make it easier for researchers and community members to connect with each other, and facilitate community-university collaborations.

If you have questions about contacting people listed in the project descriptions below, please email

If you would like to add your research project to this page, please email

As this page is a new feature of the Research Access Portal we also welcome your ideas about how we can make it relevant to you and the people you work with; please email us your thoughts at

From Ceremony Up: Indigenous Community Planning as a Resurgent Practice on Contested Lands in British Columbia

Project Lead: Lyana Patrick

This case study explored what urban Indigenous community planning looks like at the intersection of health and justice in the work of one Indigenous o...

Oppenheimer Park Community-Led Violence Reduction Initiative

Project Lead: Penelope Gurstein

Other: Kathleen Heggie

This project investigated how programming in Oppenheimer Park (Vancouver, BC) contributes to safety and social cohesion in and around the area, and ho...

Cheque Day Study (The Impact of Alternative Social Assistance on Drug Related Harm, or TASA)

Project Lead: Lindsey Richardson

Prior research identifies substantial increases in drug use and drug-related harm as well as challenges to effective service provision associated with...

Optimizing the employment outcomes for people living in the Downtown Eastside

Project Lead: Skye Barbic

The overall objective of this project was to increase access to meaningful employment for unemployed British Columbians living in the Downtown Eastsid...

Evaluating the use of prescription psychostimulants for the treatment of methamphetamine use disorder

Project Lead: Paxton Bach

Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant that is increasingly implicated in the ongoing overdose crisis in BC. One class of medications that has previousl...

Connecting the Dots

Project Lead: Seonaid Nolan

This project will assemble a working group of approximately 24 key service providers for patients with a substance use disorder (SUD) at St. Paul's Ho...

DTES Social Enterprise Impact Report

Project Lead: Voor Urban Labs

Voor Urban Labs researched the community economic impact of the social enterprise sector in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in 2019 and 2020. The res...

i. Truth (through art) to power: Arts-based truth-telling to transform research and reduce inequities at the intersections of health and justice

Project Lead: Kelsey Timler

Other: Kate McLeod and others

People who have been incarcerated face unfair health and social outcomes and barriers to wellbeing. These barriers are made worse for Indigenous Peopl...

Treatment Trajectories Study

Project Lead: Danya Fast

The Treatment Trajectories Study explores street-involved young people’s substance use treatment trajectories and outcomes in the context of Vancouver...

Women’s overdose risk and the response to the overdose crisis in Vancouver, Canada

Project Lead: Jade Boyd

The project aims to generate evidence to strengthen interventions and strategies to decrease overdose-related harms, including death, among women who ...

Impact of Opioid Agonist Therapy on hepatitis C treatment initiation among people who use drugs

Project Lead: Sofia Bartlett

People who use drugs (PWUD) who are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are 1.84 times more likely to start Direct Acting Antiviral ...

You Matter: Pathways to STBBI Care in BC Provincial Corrections Project

Project Lead: Sofia Bartlett

To address barriers to Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infection (STBBI) testing and care in prisons, BC Centre for Disease Control and BC Mental...

Outcomes for Patients Accessing Addiction Care (OPAC)

Project Lead: Jeffrey Morgan

Other: Seonaid Nolan

The Outcomes for Patients Accessing Addiction Care (OPAC) study is a five-year study that is focused on improving British Columbia’s addiction treatme...

Prevalence, patterns, and harms associated with the co-injection of illicit opioids and crystal methamphetamine

Project Lead: Paxton Bach

Crystal methamphetamine use is associated with a wide array of physical and social harms. In spite of this, its prevalence is rising in many parts of ...

Critical Review of Substance Use Focused Anti-Stigma Campaigns

Project Lead: Scott Neufeld

Two studies involving people with lived and living experience of stigmatized/criminalized substance use and other intersecting marginalized identities...

Scaling Up: Trauma and Violence Informed Outreach with Women Affected by Violence

Project Lead: Vicky Bungay

This project examines the process and impact of implementing an evidence-informed, strengths-based, trauma and violence informed outreach program with...

Building Supportive Social Networks to Advance the Mental Health of Women Affected by Violence in Vancouver's Downtown

Project Lead: Vicky Bungay

A team of researchers, community service leaders and women from the DTES community received funding from the Vancouver Foundation for a three-year com...

Bicycling and Homelessness

Project Lead: Jeanette Steinmann

Cycling continues to grow in popularity in Vancouver, but the needs of people experiencing homelessness and precariously housed people who ride bikes ...

Hep C Connect: Innovative health services to optimize care and treatment for under-served patients

Project Lead: Kate Salters

Other: Rolando Barrios and others

In Canada, current treatments for hepatitis C virus (HCV) are not only very well tolerated oral medications, but lead to actually curing HCV over 95% ...

A mixed-methods evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of a drug checking pilot in British Columbia

Project Lead: Lianping Ti

Other: Alison Knill, Research Coordinator

This study intends to evaluate the use and acceptance by people who use drugs (PWUD) of immunoassay test strips and the Bruker ALPHA FTIR spectrometer...

Assessing Economic Transitions Study (ASSETS)

Project Lead: Lindsey Richardson

The Assessing Economic Transitions Study (ASSETS) was a study seeking to learn more about the experience of people who are training or working in the ...

Occupational health, safety and labour rights among street and indoor sex workers in the context of evolving laws and policing: Ethnographic and quali...

Project Lead: Andrea Krüsi

The overall goals of this project is to better understand how evolving laws and policies, including laws and policing that target sex workers’ clients...

OPS Inhalation Tent Study

Project Lead: Jenna van Draanen

We are studying the Inhalation Tent program model in partnership with the Overdose Prevention Society to prepare for sharing knowledge about this mode...

The Unlocking the Gates (UTG) Peer Health Mentoring Program

Project Lead: Helen Brown

Other: Mo Korchinski

Currently, people leaving prisons face concurrent risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose public health emergency. The closure or reduction ...

Urban Indigenous Research Survey

Project Lead: Irwin Oostindie

Developing an aggregated survey of Urban Indigenous policy research and community-engaged studies with representation and engagement from 80 Urban Ind...

AIDS Care Cohort to evaluate Exposure to Survival Services (ACCESS)

Project Lead: M-J Milloy

The ACCESS study is an ongoing research study involving more than 1,000 people living with HIV who use unregulated drugs. The objective of the study i...

COVID-19 Vaccine Study

Project Lead: M-J Milloy

This study aims to study the uptake and impact of vaccination against the novel coronavirus on the health and wellbeing of people living in the Downto...

Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study (VIDUS)

Project Lead: Kanna Hayashi

Other: Kora DeBeck

The Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study (VIDUS) is one of the longest-running community-recruited prospective cohort studies of people who inject dru...

Transformative Health and Justice Research Cluster (THJRC)

Project Lead: Helen Brown

Other: Samantha Young, THJRC Project Coordinator

People who face structural barriers to health and social equity are disproportionately engaged with and impacted by the criminal justice system (CJS)....

At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS)

Project Lead: Kora DeBeck

Other: Kanna Hayashi

The At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS) is a longitudinal cohort study of >1,000 street-involved youth who use drugs in Vancouver. The cohort began in 2005 and...

New Frontiers

Project Lead: Helen Brown

Other: Samantha Young, THJRC Project Coordinator

Incarcerated individuals suffer vast health and social inequities, many of which span generations. In Canada’s colonial context, Indigenous peoples ar...

Community Ethics in Cultural Production

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) Community Ethics in Cultural Production Project is an initiative led by members of the DTES community with support from D...

Care Pathways Study

Project Lead: Danya Fast

The Care Pathways Study focuses on the experiences of younger youth (ages 14-18) as they simultaneously navigate multiple systems of care and supervis...

Overdose Prevention Peer Research Assistant (OPPRA) Project

Project Lead: Jeffrey Morgan

Other: Tara Taylor and others

The Overdose Prevention Peer Research Assistant (OPPRA) Project is a community-based participatory action research partnership between the Overdose Pr...

Uncovering SARS-COV-2 Behind Bars: Understanding the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Correctional Settings

Project Lead: Sofia Bartlett

Investigators at the BC Centre for Disease Control, University of British Columbia and BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services launched a BC Provi...

The Outcomes for Patients Accessing Addiction Care in Correctional Settings (OPAC Corrections) Study

Project Lead: Eisha Lehal

Other: Seonaid Nolan

The period following release from jail is one of increased vulnerability for individuals with an opioid use disorder, as they re-immerse into their co...

Addressing COVID-19 Vaccine concerns AmoNg people who are incarCeratEd (ADVANCE)

Project Lead: Sofia Bartlett

The “Addressing COVID-19 Vaccine concerns among people who are incarcerated” (ADVANCE) study is a participatory 'knowledge to action' project that aim...

COVID-19 Vaccine Intentions among Black Communities in BC

Project Lead: Stephanie Allen

Other: Research Project Coordinator: Modupeoluwa Bankole-Longe, Research Coordinator: Amy Booth

Given the lack of data specific to vaccine intentions and personal COVID-19 history among Black communities in BC and the disproportionately higher bu...

Towards a comprehensive performance measurement system for opioid use disorder in British Columbia, Canada

Project Lead: Bohdan Nosyk

This project involves developing 'health system performance measures' using data on the healthcare interactions of people with opioid use disorder in ...

Emulating target trials with big data to strengthen the evidence base for the clinical management of opioid use disorder

Project Lead: Bohdan Nosyk

This project uses advanced statistical methods to develop evidence that can improve the clinical practice of opioid agonist treatment (OAT). The proje...

Health service redesign in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: A linked, observational cohort design for comprehensive evaluation

Project Lead: Kanna Hayashi

This project collected information on patient-reported experiences of health care in the Downtown Eastside in a supplemental questionnaire that was im...

A mixed methods evaluation of risk mitigation measures to address the dual public health crises of COVID-19 and overdose

Project Lead: Amanda Slaunwhite and others

We are conducting a mixed-methods evaluation of BC's Risk Mitigation Guidance (RMG), using qualitative, quantitative and implementation science method...

Co-designing new systems of mental health support during COVID-19 for people with long-term experience of complex barriers to employment

Project Lead: Skye Barbic

Other: Amanda Kwan

'Links to Employment' is a supported employment program operating in Vancouver's downtown and DTES, and community of Vernon. It is based on the model ...

Test Link Call Project

Project Lead: Sofia Bartlett

Test, Link, Call (TLC) Project, launched in Fall 2021, is a collaboration between BCCDC, BCMHSUS, BC Hepatitis Network and Unlocking the Gates (UTG). ...

BC CARMA-CHIWOS Collaboration (BCC3) - Women's Healthy Aging Research

Project Lead: Melanie Murray

Other: Helene Cote and others

The British Columbia CARMA-CHIWOS Collaboration (BCC3) is a community-based, women-centered, cell-to-society study. Funded by the Canadian Institutes ...

Trauma at the Root: Exploring Paths to Healing with Formerly Incarcerated Men

Project Lead: Chris Richardson

The Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education, in partnership with the John Howard Society of Canada, has received funding from the Vancouv...

Disrupting the colonial status quo: A critical ethnographic study on the pathways to child health and well-being

Project Lead: Alysha McFadden

There is a lack of research on decolonizing healthcare practices and whether healthcare and allied-service providers are knowledgeable about how to en...