Research Team

In addition to core investigators, staff, and trainees, the RID team includes an extensive array of collaborators and partnerships.

Program Lead


Dr Deborah Money, Investigator

Dr. Deborah Money, MD, FRCSC is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is an associate member of both the Department of Medicine and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.  Following residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, she did a Fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington, becoming Canada’s first dual specialist in OBGYN and Infectious Diseases. She is an active clinician scientist in Reproductive Infectious Diseases, with several large multicentered research projects on the maternal/infant microbiome and HIV in women. As well, she has been the lead for a study of the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of the HPV vaccine in girls and women living with HIV. She has published more than 200 peer reviewed publications and has received more than $29M in peer reviewed funding. She is currently the lead for CANCOVID-Preg, a Canada-wide surveillance program studying the outcome following COVID-19 for pregnant women and their infants and the lead for a Canadian Seroprevalence study of SARS-CoV-2 using antenatal sera. Dr. Money was the Executive Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at UBC until June 2020, she was previously the inaugural Executive Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) and Vice-President, Research for the BC Women’s Hospital and a past President of the Infectious Diseases Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology (IDSOG).

Twitter: @money2_dmoney


Co-Investigators


Dr Julie van Schalkwyk, Investigator

Dr. Julie van Schalkwyk is Site Head, Obstetrics & Gynecology, BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre, effective as of September 1, 2016. She is present Chief Medical Officer, BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre.  She has been on staff at BC Women’s, Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital since 2005, and is a Clinical Associate Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Dr. van Schalkwyk completed a Master’s Degree at the University of Ottawa in Microbiology and Immunology in 1995 before attending medical school at Dalhousie University. She then completed her Obstetrics and Gynaecology Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in 2004, followed by additional training in Infectious Diseases at UBC. Dr. van Schalkwyk has an interest in infectious diseases as they relate to pregnancy, newborns and gynaecologic health. Her research includes HIV, HBV, surgical site infection and intra-amniotic infection. She provides specialized care for women with reproductive infectious diseases at two BC Women’s clinics in addition to general obstetrics and gynaecology in the community.


Dr Chelsea Elwood, Investigator

Dr. Chelsea Elwood completed her B.M.Sc. and M.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Western Ontario and then completed a Reproductive Infectious Disease fellowship at the University of British Columbia after her medical training in OB/GYN at UBC. In addition to providing a general OB/GYN, Dr. Elwood is able to provide care and consultative services for women with reproductive tract infections. She is actively engaged as a translational researcher in both basic science and clinical research. She is the medical lead for the Oak Tree Clinic a clinic which focuses on the care of women, children, families and persons living with HIV as well as the lead for the antimicrobial stewardship program at BCWH. She is also a member of the SOGC Infectious Disease committee whose role is to make recommendations in reproductive care as it relates to infectious diseases.


Staff


Arezou Azampanah, Research Coordinator

Arezou Azampanah received her Master’s degree in Medical Biology from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She started working with the WHRI in 2010 as a research assistant with the CART team, which is involved in research about contraception and abortion. She currently works at Oak Tree Clinic where she studies HIV research in pan-Canadian and international clinical trials. Her interest is to contribute to clinically-oriented research to improve the health and well-being of women and children.


Sandra Blitz, Biostatistician 

Sandra joined the Reproductive Infectious Disease group in March 2024 as the team’s biostatistician. She holds a BSc in Math from UBC and MSc in Statistics from SFU. Throughout her career Sandra has worked in different research settings focusing mostly on HIV and oncology but has worked on projects spanning a variety of other health research areas. She loves to take data and transform it into a clinically meaningful message that can be communicated to all key stakeholders.


Sara Cole, Research Assistant

Sara joined the Reproductive Infectious Disease team in August 2023 as a Research Assistant. She graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. Currently, her work is focused on helping the team finish up data abstraction for the CANCOVID-Preg study. Sara has worked in women’s sexual health research for 2 years and when she’s not in the lab she’s usually hanging out with her cat and dogs.


Lucia Forward, Research Manager

Lucia joined the Reproductive Infectious Diseases Team in October 2022. She graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science in Behavioural Neuroscience. Her focus with the team is assisting with the CANCOVID-Preg Project and the COVERED Vaccine Registry. Lucia previously worked in mental health and substance use research and is passionate about women’s health and supporting equitable healthcare for women.


Erin Fraser, Research Coordinator

Erin joined the Reproductive Infectious Disease team in August 2023 as a Research Coordinator. She received her Bachelor of Science with an Honours in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, in 2021. Erin has almost 2 years’ experience coordinating sponsor lead clinical trials and focuses on assisting with the COVERED Vaccine Registry and Immune Sub-Study. Erin is passionate about improving well-being among young adult women and is excited to be contributing to the knowledge of women’s reproductive health. 


Sela Grays, Research Assistant

Sela Grays joined the Reproductive Disease Program as a data abstraction research assistant in July, 2022 while studying for a BSc in Mathematics and Economics at UBC. Sela has a variety of research interests cultivated during their time as a project assistant at the Centre for International Child Health at BC Children’s, including economic evaluation of health programs, digital health interventions, sepsis, post-sepsis, and patient advocacy. Sela additionally is passionate about working with data, its management, visualization, summarization, and translation, specifically focusing on women’s and children’s health and interdisciplinary education.


Emma Karlsen, Research Manager 

Emma joined the Reproductive Infectious Disease team as a research manager in April 2023 and will be supporting the NOVA-HIV and CANCOVID-Preg projects. She graduated from UBC with a Bachelor’s of Integrated Science, focusing on Microbiology and Genetics. Emma’s previous research experience is in respiratory investigator-initiated and clinical trials and she is passionate about improving the quality of life of women and creating positive experiences for those participating in research.


Brandon Krezeski, Research Assistant

Brandon is currently working as a research assistant and data abstractor for the RID program with his duties mainly focusing on the CAN-COVID Pregnancy Surveillance study. As a recent Bachelor of Arts & Science graduate of McGill University, he is interested in pursuing a career in the life sciences and very excited to be a part of the RID team.


Evelyn Maan, Senior Research Manager

Evelyn has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years. Since 2001, she has worked as a Research Nurse / Manager with the Oak Tree Clinic and Reproductive Infectious Disease teams at BC Women’s Hospital. During this time, she has facilitated the conduct of more than 40 multi-year, multi-site projects, from inception through to publication.

Currently, Evelyn divides her time working on the Maternal Microbiome Legacy Project and the CARMA (HIV & Aging) series of projects. She also provides both administrative and finance support as well as contract facilitation for the compliment of studies at the Oak Tree Clinic.


Henry Payette, Research Assistant

Henry joined the Reproductive Infectious Diseases Team in June of 2023 as a Research Assistant supporting the CANCOVID-Preg project and other studies being conducted out of the RID Program. He graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He has worked previously in neurology research, with a specific focus on stroke prevention and understanding the stroke incidence for certain at-risk populations. Through this experience, he developed a strong interest in medical research and improving patient care. He is also passionate about women’s health and improving medical access and treatment for women, which he is excited to contribute to as part of the RID team. 


Beheroze Sattha, Laboratory Coordinator

Beheroze is a laboratory technologist and has managed the BC Women’s Research Lab since its inception in 2013. She has more than 31 years of laboratory experience, both in diagnostic and research labs. She is responsible for sample processing and biobanking for all RID studies as well as others at the WHRI and Oak Tree Clinic.


Melissa Watt, Clinical Research Coordinator

Melissa has been a clinical research coordinator with the Women’s Health Research Institute for 10 years. She began her career with PHSA as an administrative assistant with the Department of Obstectrics and Gynaecology in 2007 and developed an interest in clinical trials administration. Since that time, she has worked on several industry sponsored and investigator lead studies. Melissa obtained her CCRP designation from SoCRA in 2012. Her research interests include infectious disease, the vaginal microbiome and women’s sexual health.


CLINICAL RESEARCH FELLOW

Dr Jeffrey Wong, Fellow

Jeff is the current Reproductive Infectious Diseases Fellow at the University of British Columbia. He first earned his Bachelor of Health Sciences (Global Health Specialization) at McMaster University, followed by his Doctor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He recently completed his Obstetrics and Gynaecology Residency at the University of British Columbia. As the current Fellow Representative in the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Canada Infectious Diseases Committee, he assists in developing national guidelines. He joins the Reproductive Infectious Diseases Program with experiences in HIV activism (Ungweru NGO in Malawi, Asian Community AIDS Services in Toronto) and research (University of Zambia), which continue to inform him of the intersectionality of many vulnerable populations. He applies these lessons on social determinants of health in his clinical practice and research. 

His academic interests include improving perinatal care in patients living with HIV, developing healthcare infrastructure for pandemic preparedness/response in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and reducing perinatal infectious morbidities. To support his clinical and research training, he is the current recipient of the Allen-Carey Scholarship in Women’s Health, the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, and the Dawn Walker Grant from the Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health.


Dr Andrea Atkinson, Fellow

Andrea is an Advanced Trainee in Obstetrics and Gynaecology who will be working as a Clinical Fellow with the RID team for 12 months. She completed her undergraduate medical studies at the University of Western Australia, before completing a Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at the University of Liverpool (UK). Andrea completed an Advanced Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and completed her first two missions with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in South Sudan and Libya. She subsequently completed the core components of her Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialization and most recently completed a further mission with MSF in Pakistan. Her interests include prevention of vertical transmission of infectious diseases, tropical medicine and improving health outcomes of vulnerable women and women in resource poor settings.

Andrea looks forward to her time with the RID team which presents a unique opportunity given this subspecialisation is not available in Australia.


TRAINEES

Dr Elisabeth McClymont, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Elisabeth McClymont is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the UBC Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics. She completed her PhD in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, working with primary supervisor Dr Deborah Money. Her current work with the RID team focuses on COVID-19 in pregnancy and HPV vaccination in women living with HIV. Elisabeth is also involved in other studies looking at the interaction between HPV and the vaginal microbiome, preterm birth, and congenital CMV infection, as well as quality assurance projects at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre.


Zahra Pakzad, PhD Student

Zahra is a PhD student in the UBC Department of Microbiology and Immunology since January 2021, working with primary supervisor Dr. Deborah Money. She has been with the Reproductive Infectious Diseases team since June 2015, first as a Research Coordinator with VOGUE (Vaginal Microbiome Group Initiative), and then as the Research Manager for the Maternal Microbiome LEGACY Project. She is continuing her work as a PhD student on the LEGACY Project, a study examining the relationship between the vaginal microbiome and development of the infant gut microbiome in the context of vaginal vs. caesarean deliveries. Zahra’s biggest motivation is seeing the interest and willingness from the hundreds of participants she’s visited at home for postpartum follow-up, and how the results of the study could one day impact obstetric and infant care. Her background includes an MSc from the UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, where her thesis involved validating a novel diagnostic assay for people living with the autoimmune condition myasthenia gravis.


Sofia Nicolls, MSc Student

Sofia joined the Reproductive Infectious Disease team in January 2024 as a Master’s Student in the Women+ and Children’s Health (WACH) Program at the University of British Columbia. She received her BSc (Hons) in Medical Sciences at Dalhousie University, where she first discovered her passion and interest in women’s health. She is very excited to be a part of the RID team, where she will be engaged in research with the NOVA-HIV study.


Winnie Fu, Medical Student

Winnie completed her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at Queen’s University. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved with hemostasis and nuclear medicine research. She is currently completing her medical degree at the University of British Columbia. She joins the RID team assisting with the CANCOVID-Preg project. Winnie is interested in public health, with a specific focus on women’s health and infectious diseases.


Amelia Tjoa, Medical Student

Amelia is a second-year medical student in the Vancouver Fraser cohort of UBC. She graduated from UBC in 2021 with a B.Sc in Microbiology and Immunology, during which time she did research on the function of the innate immune system in obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. She joined the RID team in 2023 to work on the Legacy project and examine antimicrobial stewardship in obstetrical care in BC. In the future, Amelia hopes to practice Family Medicine with a special interest in women’s health.


Sophie Tran, Medical Student

Sophie joined the Reproductive Infectious Disease team in April 2024 as a first-year UBC medical student. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia, a Masters of Science in Sports Medicine and Doctorate of Chiropractic at the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon. She has an interest in equity, diversity and inclusion work, particularly in women’s health research. She is currently working on the COVERED project. 


Suraya Bondy, Medical Student

Suraya is a second-year UBC medical student studying at the Island Medical Program in Victoria, BC. She graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences Honours degree from McMaster University in 2020. She has worked as a research assistant at BC Cancer Agency and BC Women’s Hospital, most recently studying the impacts of COVID-19 on pregnancy. She is currently involved in the RID program’s COVERED project, looking at vaccine attitudes among pregnant and lactating people. She hopes to pursue a career in maternity care in the future.