Graduate Student Initiative Fund

Be creative. Be innovative. Be a leader.

DEADLINE for 2017-18

November 15 and April 15. Late applications will not be accepted.


The Graduate Student Initiative Fund is for two kinds of graduate student projects:

    1. Research-partnership Initiatives, that seek to link FoM research-based graduate students with UBC-affiliated clinical fellows, medical residents, health practitioners, and/or clinical faculty in order to engage in innovative and unique translational research projects with no independent source of funding. Examples of initiatives include: adding a novel clinical data component to an existing graduate student project; creating a detailed workup of interesting clinical cases;  or analyzing data related to improving clinical practices.
      Criteria for use of funds: research equipment, research supplies and/or research services (e.g. cost of recovery  payments to core equipment).
      Maximum of $3000 per Research-partnership Initiative.
    2. Non-research/Educational Initiatives, that aim to improve and enhance the graduate learning environment, and to lead to effective change. Initiatives related to teaching and learning are encouraged, however all ideas that seek to improve the graduate student experience in the Faculty of Medicine will be considered. Examples of initiatives include: creating online learning modules that promote professional development for non-academic health careers; developing an initiative that fosters global collaboration between UBC and graduate students from other countries; delivering an educational workshop that engages community partners; etc.
      Maximum of $1000 per Non-research/Educational Initiative.


  • The proposal must be submitted by a registered graduate student in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. Groups of students are encouraged to apply, but one student must be the primary applicant.
  • The proposal must have a Faculty Sponsor who is responsible for reviewing the proposal prior to submission, providing a letter of support for the proposal, and being available to students for consultation if the proposal is successful.
  • The proposal must have clearly stated goal(s) to fulfil a student need and/or improve student learning.
  • The proposal must be innovative and cross disciplinary boundaries.
  • The proposal must engage with communities within and/or outside of the UBC campus boundaries.
  • The proposal must provide a feasible timeline and budget.
  • The project cannot be already completed, or be carried out for course credit.


The eligible applications will undergo adjudication by the Faculty of Medicine Graduate Student Advisory Group, comprised of graduate student representatives from each graduate program. The committee will have oversight from the Faculty of Medicine Assistant Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral studies. Applications will be evaluated based on the eligibility criteria.


The application form is available online here. A complete application includes:

  • A detailed proposal for the initiative (Maximum 2 pages). The proposal should indicate how the proposal fulfils the Graduate Student Initiative Fund objectives and eligibility criteria, and what impact it will have.
  • Two to four letters of support from faculty, staff, alumni, students or community members. The Faculty Sponsor for the initiative must provide one letter of support (see eligibility criteria for definition of the Faculty Sponsor).
  • An itemized breakdown of expenses (1 page maximum). The budget should also indicate any other sources of funding, including requests for matching funds such as department donations or fundraising initiatives


  • The Graduate Student Initiative Fund is limited to one-time-only and cannot be used to support an ongoing (e.g. annual) activity. Sponsors of annual events (e.g. conferences, symposiums) who are applying for this one-time-only funding should demonstrate the innovative components of the event for which they seek funding (e.g. beyond annual changes in event themes).
  • Applicants for activities intended to be on-going or annual should demonstrate plans to become self-sustaining. The Graduate Student Initiative Fund should be viewed only as start-up assistance for such activities.
  • Funding of successful applications is available for one year. A final report must be submitted to the Assistant Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Education within 4 weeks of the conclusion of the funded initiative. The report must include the following components: a summary of the initiative, the benefits of the initiative for graduate students, and a summary of expenses.
  • The Graduate Student Initiative Fund will not cover the costs of alcoholic beverages, charitable donations, past initiatives, initiatives for academic credit, or initiatives that do not have a faculty member sponsor.


Three graduate students from the Neuroscience Graduate Student Association were successful in their application for funding for their proposed online communication platform: Brain Bytes. Brain Bytes is described as an “online knowledge dissemination tool” and is being created to allow graduate students to engage with the public in scientific discourse, educate the general public about science, and allow graduate students to learn about current values and preconceived notions about science, ultimately with the goal of bridging the gap between scientists and the general public. Graduate students will also have the unique opportunity to collaborate with students from the UBC School of Journalism program, which will also be involved in the program development, furthering the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration in this project. This project is expected to go live in 2018.


The Association of Population and Public Health Students was successful in their application for funding for Career Planning Programming for the students that they serve. This programming included several workshops focused on developing skills pertinent to building a public health career in both academic and non-academic settings, including job searching, resume writing, poster design, and networking. The workshop series concluded with a School of Population and Public Health Soiree, in which alumni currently employed in a variety of public health sectors presented their career paths and met with current students in order to discuss interdisciplinary and non-traditional careers.


The Neuroscience Graduate Student Association was successful in acquiring funding for their “Neuroscience Through the Ages” seminar series, which will present the history and fundamentals of neuroscience in an interesting and accessible manner. A collaborating student and faculty member will be involved in summarizing the key papers, findings, debates, and methodological advances of specific historical researchers across many decades. This information will be made publicly available through an online interactive timeline and public events. The integrative approach of both public events/lectures and an online interactive timeline aims to explore the rich past of neuroscience research, which has laid the foundation for current techniques and research questions. By bringing past research to the forefront, participants will be better equipped to digest the findings and significance of current neuroscience publications, as well as gain an understanding of the importance of ongoing basic and clinical research to address the multitude of unanswered questions that remain.


The Rehabilitation Sciences Executive Committee was successful in acquiring funding for their Rehabilitation Sciences Career Workshop Series, which worked to expose current students to common non-academic career pathways taken by Rehabilitation Sciences program graduates with training in clinical research. This workshop series provided a venue for graduate students to learn about alternate career pathways, tailored towards UBC Faculty of Medicine students with rehabilitation-relevant graduate degrees, as well as students in other programs who will be pursuing careers in the healthcare sector. This workshop connected graduate students to leaders outside of the university, who shared their personal experience and advice on how to prepare for post-graduate careers, and it strengthened ties between the UBC Rehabilitation Sciences program and their alumni network.




The SciCATS Team—comprised of professors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from various programs within the Faculty of Medicine as well as the Faculties of Education, Interdisciplinary Studies and Science—successfully obtained funding to help develop their training program. The SciCATS program provides open access, modular science communication training through in-person workshops and online videos. This program is designed to facilitate effective science communication , an essential component to being a  successful scientist as well as to communicating scientific findings with the general public. To learn more about SciCats, visit:



Please contact the Graduate & Postdoctoral Research Coordinator at if you have any questions regarding the Graduate Student Initiative Fund.