Dr. Christine Mulligan recently joined Foundry as a recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Health System Impact Fellowship, funded by the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health and Michael Smith Health Research BC. This prestigious two-year fellowship gives post-doctoral researchers the opportunity to bridge the gap between research and practice by embedding within health system organizations to better address important topics.

For Dr. Mulligan, working at both the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Foundry is the chance to engage with integrated youth services leadership, service providers, families/caregivers and youth to accomplish meaningful research.

“As a researcher, it can often feel like when you release your work out into the world, despite your best intentions, that knowledge will get lost in a void before it reaches those that it might impact most,” said Dr. Mulligan. “With the Health System Impact Fellowship program and being embedded at both UBC and Foundry, I’m grateful to be in the unique position of conducting research in direct collaboration with knowledge users – the people who care most about the outcomes and want to use what we learn to help support their work. In this context, there is no void, and the potential for creating meaningful research impact is huge.”

Dr. Mulligan is co-supervised by Dr. Skye Barbic, Associate Professor at UBC and the Head Scientist at Foundry, and Dr. Julia Langton, the Provincial Director, Research, Evaluation and Data at Foundry.

 “I was thrilled when the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research at CIHR launched the Health System Impact Fellowship program back in 2017, as it was the program I wish existed when I was doing a post-doctoral fellowship,” said Dr. Langton. “This program goes a long way to supporting much needed and intentional supports for embedded research within the health system (with salary support and a generous professional development stipend). Currently, too much of the work required to do embedded research has to be done off the side of academics’ very full desks, but this program is different. Dr. Mulligan is Foundry’s inaugural Health System Impact Fellow and she’s had opportunities to work across the organization at Foundry Central Office and get out into community too.”

The importance of embedded research is echoed by Dr. Barbic.

“With embedded research, Dr. Mulligan’s role creates an opportunity for the improvement and advancement of integrated youth services within the British Columbia healthcare system. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, community engagement, service delivery optimization, policy development and program evaluation, Dr. Mulligan’s role enables timely mobilization of evidence and wise practices.”

Dr. Mulligan’s project is examining the implementation of a learning health system at Foundry. Learning health systems are designed to rapidly improve services and outcomes through a continuous cycle of knowledge to practice to data and back to knowledge. Dr. Mulligan is working to understand how a learning health system can be implemented in integrated youth services and to share her findings with other integrated youth services across Canada.


As stated by Dr. Mulligan, “We are living in an incredibly unpredictable world right now, and with that, the mental health and wellness needs of youth are ever changing. I see enormous potential for a learning health system to help an organization like Foundry build a culture of learning that will allow it to be dynamic and responsive to the evolving needs of young people. Implementing a learning health system is, of course, much easier said than done, and I think that the research project we are doing to study the early stages of the implementation process will help support Foundry – and maybe help other organizations who are working towards the same goals!”


The impacts of the fellowship are already being felt.

“This co-supervision model between the University of British Columbia and Foundry is unique and has been exceptionally beneficial to date,” said Dr. Barbic. “Dr. Mulligan’s work helps us work together to narrow the gap between research and practice, ultimately improving the quality of care, experiences and outcomes for youth and families/caregivers in British Columbia.”

Added Dr. Langton, “This is a wonderful program, and my challenge to funders and the health system is to ensure we can sustain the incredible talent base of health system impact fellows and other researchers doing embedded research. As a knowledge user, I’ve seen first-hand the difference that embedded research can make to achieving research impact and real change within the health system.”

Congratulations to Dr. Mulligan on her fellowship! We look forward to sharing more about her project in the coming months.