VIU welcoming award-winning researcher and neuroscientist

Dr. Sandy Shultz is VIU’s first recipient of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award. || Photo courtesy of VIU
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Improving treatment for people with traumatic brain injuries is the focus of an award-winning researcher joining Vancouver Island University (VIU) this year.

Dr. Sandy Shultz, adjunct professor in the Health and Human Services faculty, is VIU’s first recipient of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Scholar Award.

“This award demonstrates VIU’s capability and commitment to lead research efforts that will result in meaningful outcomes to both local and global communities,” said Shultz. “It would not have been possible without the tremendous support from the VIU research office team, as well as our partners at the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society, Island Health and BC Support.”

The award provides funding for 75 per cent protected research time for Shultz, who will be cross-appointed between the Faculties of Health and Human Services and Social Sciences. The award is $90,000 per year for five years.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Shultz obtained his undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan, before completing his Master’s degree and PhD at the University of Western Ontario. He then moved to the University of Melbourne for post-doctoral training, where he obtained several grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. 

In 2018, he started his own lab at Monash University focusing on improving treatment for traumatic brain injury — work he will continue at VIU.

“My lab at VIU will do similar research as I did in Australia, but will also have a particular focus on brain injury that occurs as a result of intimate partner violence,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is a very common problem around the world and has only grown worse during COVID-19 due to lockdowns. Even though survivors of intimate partner violence often report symptoms of a brain injury, it is rarely screened or detected.”

Shultz’s research at VIU will aim to identify “new and reliable methods” to detect brain injury in these situations, as well as develop interventions that will improve recovery.

His connection to VIU goes back to his time at the University of Saskatchewan, where he had the opportunity to work in Dr. Deborah Saucier’s lab, who is now VIU president and vice-chancellor.

“We’ve kept in contact over the years and through this connection, I began having conversations with VIU’s VP of Research, as well as the Deans of Health and Human Services and Social Sciences,” said Shultz.

Currently, Shultz is splitting his time between Australia and B.C. He plans to start setting up his lab at VIU and applying for grants over the next six months and will formally begin his research at VIU in July.

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