2021 Graduate Studentships

The Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit (AbSPORU) Graduate Studentship provides opportunities for individuals enrolled in any year of a thesis-based Master’s or PhD program at one of Alberta’s four comprehensive academic  research universities (CARU) to undertake research that both meaningfully engages patients and addresses their priorities. 

Recipients will have the opportunity to attain the knowledge and experience they need to build exciting careers that leverage their unique training and expertise in patient-oriented research.

Since 2015, AbSPORU has awarded almost $2 million to 64 graduate students, to support their patient-oriented research. Participants in the program have gone on to win 87 academic awards in the form of student funding, fellowships, research project funding, salary support, and professional development opportunities worth a combined total of over $5 million.

How the program works


The program provides 13 months of funding support towards a thesis-based Master’s or Doctoral degree, consisting of a stipend of $30,000. 

AbSPORU also provides a range of additional patient-oriented research training and competency development activities to build the interdisciplinary and collaborative skills required of Alberta’s next generation of researchers, clinicians and health services professionals.


  • Supporting and building capacity for Master’s or PhD graduate students in the principles and practice of patient-oriented research;
  • Providing patient oriented research activities to develop capacity through a multi-disciplinary approach for all stakeholders including students, primary research supervisors, patients and community team members;
  • Creating opportunities for students to engage with stakeholders to work closely together from conceptualization of research question to dissemination and implementation of results at the practice and community levels.

Who can apply?

Studentships have been awarded over the past six years to applicants from diverse backgrounds who have proposed a variety of interesting projects within patient-oriented research. Studentships are open to individuals who:

  • Are enrolled in, or accepted to, a graduate program at one of Alberta’s CARUs: University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Athabasca University.
  • Are in, or entering, any year graduate program, but have not yet undertaken their thesis defence, and will not undertake their thesis defence during the award period.
  • Clearly articulate that their proposed project meaningfully does or will do all of the following:
    • Engage patients (and providers) as partners in a manner appropriate to the research
    • Address patient-identified health priorities;
    • Aim to improve patient outcomes.

Five awards will be prioritized for students working directly with a SPOR Network to complete their research.

For more detail on the program and eligibility, you can read the full program guide.

How to apply

Applicants must submit their application to their home university, and not to AbSPORU directly.

All applications will undergo a comprehensive review and final selection process involving an external review panel convened by AbSPORU. The review panel will include patient-partner reviewers. The panel’s ranking will help inform AbSPORU’s final selection of applications for funding.

Information sessions

Have questions? View our info session presentation slides.


Applicants should check with the faculty of graduate studies at their home university for full descriptions, application details, and internal university deadline date(s) for this competition. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to submit their completed Application Package to their home university by the specified internal deadline date for this competition.

(Universities will transmit all completed applications to AbSPORU by November 15, 2021.)


For questions about the AbSPORU Graduate Studentship Program please contact Kelli Buckreus (kelli.buckreus@ucalgary.ca).

Congratulations to the 2020 Studentship Awardees:

Brittany DeGraves – University of Alberta

Project: Reducing Pandemic Stress Effects Among the Most Vulnerable: People Living in Long-Term Care

Project Summary

Chantal Rytz – University of Calgary

Project: Reproductive Lifespan, Menstrual Cycle Regularity and Risk of Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes

Project Summary

Dana Hunter – University of Calgary

Project: Facilitators and barriers to medial collateral ligament bracing treatment: Moving towards improved patient outcomes

Project Summary

Daniel O’Brien – University of Alberta

Project: Patient Conflict and Regret Regarding Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Project Summary

Danika Goveas – University of Alberta

Project: Exploring the integration of Indigenous ways of knowing in PHC policy development to promote healing for Indigenous communities in Alberta

Project Summary

Jacqueline Wilson – University of Calgary

Project: Evaluating strategies for patient and family engagement in the scale and spread of Alberta Family Integrated Care (FICare™) in neonatal intensive care units

Project Summary

Jasmine Maghera – University of Alberta

Project: Linking Cell Function and Gene Expression to Define Maturation of Stem-Cell Derived β-Cells to End Type 1 Diabetes

Project Summary

Jaylynn Arcand – University of Calgary

Project: Understanding the patients perspective: How and what physicians are communicating to patients with Functional Somatic Disorders

Project Summary

Kathryn Lambert – University of Alberta

Project: Developing an evidence based motor imagery training program for persons with Parkinson´s Disease through collaboration with patients and therapists

Project Summary

Megan Pohl – University of Alberta

Project: Recognizing and managing youth mental health: addressing a consumer-identified health priority through knowledge synthesis and translation

Project Summary

Michaela Patton – University of Calgary

Project: Internet-delivered cognitive behavioral treatment for survivors of childhood cancer with chronic pain: A randomized pilot feasibility study

Project Summary

Sandy Rao – University of Calgary

Project: Perceptions of Access Models that Enhance Mental Health and Addictions System Utilization in Young Adults with Mood Disorders.

Project Summary

Stephanie Brooks – University of Alberta

Project: Advancing Theory of Learning Health System Implementation

Project Summary

The Studentship and Training Program inspired me to make my PhD thesis more patient-oriented.

- Chelsia Gillis, 2016 Studentship Awardee

Previous Competitions: Awardee Archives


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