Heather Palis PhD, MSc

Postdoctoral Fellow


Faculty of Medicine

What are your key research interests?

I completed my PhD in Population and Public Health (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) where I studied the treatment experiences and outcomes of people receiving injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) (i.e. prescription heroin or hydromorphone) for the treatment of opioid use disorder. My dissertation research examined concurrent stimulant use among iOAT patients, considering the wide diversity that exists in patients’ motivations for and patterns of stimulant use while engaged in treatment for opioid use disorder.

My postdoctoral research seeks to investigate recent interventions introduced in response to the overdose crisis in British Columbia (e.g. expanded opioid agonist treatment, pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic drug supply), with a focus on the impact of these interventions on overdose risk among people who have been recently incarcerated. This research uses administrative health and corrections records available in the Provincial Overdose Cohort held at the BC Centre for Disease Control, which offers the most comprehensive collection of records on fatal and non-fatal overdose events available in Canada.

What drew you to working with THJRC ?

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the Transformative Health and Justice Cluster (THJRC) members, who work collaboratively with a shared commitment to knowledge development and mobilization.

In the context of new policy changes in BC which aim to reduce overdose risk, it is critical that the questions investigated as part of my postdoctoral research reflect meaningful priorities from the perspective of people with lived experience of substance use and incarceration. The THJ Cluster is committed to participatory and community-engaged research and I look forward to working with members of the Cluster who can advise on this research, to ultimately improve its potential impact on reducing risk of overdose in BC.

I am also excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with other trainees, early career researchers and co-Investigators who are part of the THJ Cluster’s Applied Research Collective (ARC) to gain peer support and mentorship related to this work.

First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

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