Investigators & Collaborators

Linda Li, BSc(PT), MSc, PhD 

Dr. Linda Li is Professor, Harold Robinson/Arthritis Society Chair in Arthritic Diseases, and Canada Research Chair in Patient-Oriented Knowledge Translation at the Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia. She is also a Senior Scientist at the Arthritis Research Canada.

Linda earned a BSc in Physiotherapy at McGill University, a MSc at University of Western Ontario, and a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology at University of Toronto. Funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical epidemiology/knowledge translation at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Linda is currently a Michael Smith Foundation Health Research (MSFHR) Career Investigator, and a past recipient of the American College of Rheumatology Health Professional New Investigator Award, and the CIHR New Investigator Award.

As a health services researcher, Linda’s research focuses in two areas: 1) understanding the help-seeking experiences of people with early inflammatory arthritis, and 2) evaluating models of arthritis care. Her methodological skills include clinical epidemiology and mixed-methods design. She also collaborates with digital media experts to develop and evaluate online tools, such as decision aids for promoting shared-decision making and interactive programs for coaching people to be physically active. Her research is currently funded by CIHR, MSFHR and The Arthritis Society.


Catherine Backman, PhD, OT(C), FCAOT

Prof. Catherine Backman is a Professor and Head of the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia, a Senior Scientist at the Arthritis Research Canada and an Affiliated Researcher at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

Catherine’s main research interest is the psychosocial impact of chronic illness and the strategies that people use to live well with arthritis. Her research explores participation in valued life roles like parenting and employment, and evaluates the outcome of occupational therapy and rehabilitation interventions.

To date, she has published over 150 papers, abstracts and book chapters.

In 2004, Catherine was awarded the Catherine Muriel Driver Memorial Lectureship and named a Fellow (FCAOT) by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists in 2004. She was also the 2009 recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, a Division of the American College of Rheumatology.

Recognized as an exceptional mentor, Catherine received the prestigious Killam University Teaching Prize in 2002 and currently supervises MSc and PhD students in rehabilitation and interdisciplinary studies.


Anne Townsend, PhD

Dr. Anne Townsend is an Affiliate Scientist at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada and a Research Associate at the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia.

She gained her BA in Sociology and Educational Studies in 1989 at the University of Lancaster, UK and an MA in Women’s Studies at the University of Exeter, UK in 1993. She was awarded a Medical Research Council PhD in the School of Public Health Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Scotland in 2005.

Anne’s association with the University of British Columbia began in 2006 as a Post-Doctoral fellow in the Health Policy and Training Program at the Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, which she completed in 2009.

Anne specializes in medical sociology, bioethics, gender and qualitative research.  Her research interests are focused in two main areas: the experience of chronic illness and health research ethics. Her work in chronic illness centres on self-management and issues of identity, shared decision-making, medication use and concordance, patient-practitioner interactions. Her work in ethics includes the ethics of qualitative research to inform an evidence base, the experience of being a health research subject and issues of relational autonomy in the patient/consumer-physician relationship. Her qualitative methodology expertise includes grounded theory, framework analysis and narrative approaches.

Click here to view results presented at the American College of Rheumatology / American Health Professionals Association Meeting, Washington DC, November 9-14, 2012


Paul Adam, MSW 

Paul Adam is the Rheumatology Liaison & Outreach Services Coordinator at the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre, Vancouver.

Paul’s research and practice interests centre on patient-physician communication, patient behaviour change, models of care, and access to care. He is working on the development of a Patient Health Passport to facilitate patient help-seeking and client-centered care.

Paul is a member of the Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) and a valued co-investigator on two arthritis related research studies. These include a CIHR-funded study to develop an interactive web-based decision-making program that will assist people in making decisions about medications and a CAN-funded study that explores patient experiences of managing symptoms and help-seeking during the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis.

In his leisure time, Paul enjoys photography, reading and blogging.


Aileen Davis, PhD, M.Sc., B.Sc. (P.T.) 

Dr. Aileen Davis is a physiotherapist and clinical epidemiologist, earning her PhD from the University of Toronto.

Her research in musculoskeletal disease focuses on identifying modifiable predictors of patient outcomes and exploring alternative models of care for people with musculoskeletal conditions. She has published and lectured extensively on patient outcomes in arthritis.

She was a member of the CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis Advisory Board from August 2005 through 2011. Having served as Vice-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of The Arthritis Society, she assumed the role of Chair in September 2011. She is Associate Editor of Osteoarthritis & Cartilage and a member of the Editorial Board of Arthritis Care and Research.


Diane Gromala, PhD

Prof. Diane Gromala is a Canada Research Chair and Professor at the School of Active Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan, a Master of Fine Arts at Yale University, and a PhD in Computing Science at the University of Plymouth, England.

As the founding director of the Transforming Pain Research Group, one of Diane’s primary research interests includes the development of new technologies (ranging from virtual reality and robotics to social media) to improve the lives of people living with long-term chronic pain. She is now working to develop computerized aids that will help patients through biofeedback meditation and visualization therapy.

Diane has supervised or has been a member of over 70 MAs, MFAs, MSCs and PhD committees in departments ranging from Design, Interactive Art, English, Film and Communications to Computer Science and Engineering. Her work is widely published in the fields of Computer Science, Interactive Art and Design and Pain Studies.


Lynne Feehan, BScPT, MSc, PhD

Lynne Feehan is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia. She is co-supervised by Dr. Linda Li and Prof. Heather McKay (Professor, Medicine / Orthopaedics and Family Practice and Director of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility).

Lynne is also a physical therapist and a certified hand therapist with over 30 years of clinician experience specializing in upper extremity rehabilitation.

Lynne’s research focuses on evaluations of bone health and physical activity in people living with inflammatory arthritis.


Antonio Aviña-Zubieta, MD, MSc, PhD

Dr. Antonio Aviña-Zubieta is an Assistant Professor at the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and a Research Scientist at the Arthritis Research Canada

Born in Mexico, Antonio graduated as a Medical Doctor from the University of Guadalajara in 1989. Between 1991-93, he pursued a rheumatology fellowship at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). Shortly after, Antonio completed a Clinical Research Fellowship at the University of Alberta, and gained a Master’s Degree in Experimental Medicine at the same university in 1997.

In 2004, he was awarded with a joint scholarship from the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT-MEXICO) and the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada to pursue a Doctoral Degree at The University of British Columbia under the supervision of Drs. John Esdaile and Diane Lacaille. Upon completion, Antonio was granted a Network Scholar award from the Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) and The Arthritis Society (TAS) in recognition of his commitment to arthritis research. As the BC Lupus Society’s first research scholar, Antonio also works in unique partnership with the society to promote lupus research in BC.

To date, he has co-authored over 50 publications in refereed journals, book chapters and peer
reviewed published abstracts. His areas of research include (1) the current epidemiology of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARD) at the population level, (2) the disease burden of SARD including risks of co-morbidities associated with SARD and (3) the impact of SARD on overall and cause specific mortality.


Jacek Kopec, MD, PhD

Prof. Jacek Kopec is a professor at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia and a Senior Scientist at the Arthritis Research Canada in Vancouver. He is also affiliated with the UBC Department of Medicine, the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto, and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project in the USA.

Jacek earned his MD degree from the Pomeranian Medical University in Poland and his PhD from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University. His scholastic achievements have been recognized with the National Health Research Scholar Award from Health Canada and the Senior Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

He has received over $3.5 million in operating research grants and his publications include 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals, mostly in the areas of musculoskeletal epidemiology, quality of life measurement, and population health. Having taught courses in epidemiology, measurement methods and survey design, Jacek has also supervised or co-supervised 30 graduate students. He is an international authority on disability and quality of life assessments, and his survey on disability levels among back pain sufferers is used by researchers worldwide.


Diane Lacaille, MD, FRCPC, MHSc

Dr. Diane Lacaille is an Associate Professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of British Columbia, and a Senior Research Scientist at the Arthritis Research Canada. She practices rheumatology at the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre and has a hospital appointment at Vancouver Hospital Health Sciences Centre (VHHSC). She currently holds the Mary Pack Chair in Arthritis Research, funded by the Arthritis Society and the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Lacaille completed medical school and internal medicine training at McGill University in Montreal.  Her rheumatology training took place at the University of British Columbia, where she also earned a Master’s in Health Sciences (clinical epidemiology track).

Dr. Lacaille’s research has led to significant advances in preventing Work Disability for employed people with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She has developed an online a program that helps people stay employed by promoting self management of problems at work and helping people make necessary changes at work. Her team is now beginning to test the effectiveness of the program in a randomized controlled trial.bia, where she also earned a Master’s in Health Sciences (clinical epidemiology track).

Dr. Lacaille’s other focus of research is on evaluating the quality of health care services received by British Columbians with RA. Her findings show that the majority of RA patients do not receive the care that is recommended for their disease and more than half are not using the medications considered essential for RA (DMARDs). She is now evaluating the impact of various interventions on the quality of care delivered to people with RA.


Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose is an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience  in the Department of Physical Therapy, UBC. She is also the Research Director of the Vancouver General Hospital Falls Prevention Clinic. Dr. Liu-Ambrose is an associate member of the UBC Brain Research Centre and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose received her PhD from the University of British Columbia, Canada in 2004. She completed a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in the area of cognitive science funded by both Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and joined the UBC Department of Physical Therapy in April 2006 as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Liu-Ambrose is a recipient of the Royal Society of Canada’s Alice Wilson Award (2006), CIHR Institute of Aging Recognition Prize in Research in Aging (2005 & 2011), MSFHR Career Investigator Award (2006), and CIHR New Investigator Award (2011). Her research focuses on defining the role of exercise to promote healthy aging and prevent cognitive and functional decline among seniors. Her research has been featured by the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and ABC News with Diane Sawyer.

When not running around in the lab, Dr. Liu-Ambrose is running about getting her kids to hockey, swimming, soccer, and piano lessons. She also loves to bake whenever time allows it and taking her dog for a swim along the beautiful beaches of Spanish Banks.

Allyson Jones, PhD, PT

Dr. Allyson Jones is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Alberta with a cross appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Previous to accepting her faculty position, she earned a Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy and a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Alberta. For her postdoctoral work, Dr. Jones was recognized as an outstanding new investigator with a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator award. A Population Health Investigator award presented by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (formerly Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, AHFMR) quickly followed.

Dr. Jones’s research assesses patient health outcomes and health-related quality of life in chronic musculoskeletal conditions to determine how we can maximize successful outcomes. Her work incorporates multiple methods, including self-report measures, clinical evaluation, performance measures and administrative databases.

Current core projects focus on the following areas:

– Patient-related outcomes and determinants of total hip and knee arthroplasties
– Prognostic factors and outcomes of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis
– Factors affecting functional recovery and health related quality of life or hip fracture

Project funding has been granted by the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the University of Alberta.

Dr. Jones accepts master’s and PhD students, as well as postdoctoral fellows under her supervision.


Jolanda Cibere, MD, FRCPC, PhD

Dr. Jolanda Cibere is an Associate Professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of British Columbia and a Research Scientist at the Arthritis Research Canada. She is specializing in the research of osteoarthritis.

After completing her medical and internal medicine training at the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Cibere completed her clinical rheumatology training at the University of British Columbia. She then trained in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, completing a doctoral program focusing on osteoarthritis, and was awarded an MRC (now CIHR) Clinician Scientist Award.

Her research on the early diagnosis of osteoarthritis led to the development of a standardized knee exam that has since become part of a clinical standard for early detection. She is now leading investigations into the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee after 3 and 6 years, as well as contributing to similar research on osteoarthritis of the hip. Her work was recognized by a Young Investigator Award from the Canadian Rheumatology Association and she was recently awarded an Investigator Award from The Arthritis Society of Canada to continue this pioneering work in osteoarthritis.