Rehabilitation Science Offers Diverse Opportunities for Students


Christen Chan, a student in Pat Camp’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at St. Paul’s Hospital demonstrates the smartphone app he’s developing for pulmonary rehab patients.

Christen Chan, a MSc graduate student at St. Paul’s Hospital, is developing a smartphone app as part of a telehealth pulmonary rehab program for patients in the community.

In the same lab, Carmen Sima, a PhD student, is working with patients with chronic lung disease to see how pulmonary rehabilitation can improve their cardiovascular health.  Both students are enrolled in the UBC Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program.

These two are part of a growing field known as rehabilitation sciences, which uses an interdisciplinary approach and a strong focus on bringing new knowledge into practice. They both work in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at St. Paul’s, led by Dr. Pat Camp, a principal investigator at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation.

For Carmen, the collaboration with other scientists and health professionals throughout the hospital is a major advantage for a student.

“The interaction with scientists in other areas provides students access to the latest methodologies, state-of-the-art medical equipment, optimal recruitment of patients as well as professional opinions on chronic lung disease evolution. This gives students the opportunity to acquire deep knowledge in both pulmonary rehabilitation and its connections to the broader area of clinical medicine,” she says.

Currently, there are four students in Dr. Camp’s laboratory and room for more. There are about seven different research programs underway, each with a unique focus. While the students learn and share with each other, each student is responsible for their own project.

This is one aspect that Christen finds attractive as a student starting out in this area.

“Students have great autonomy in this program,” he says. “Students have the freedom to determine their research direction and there is room for creativity.”

Satvir Dhillon, a graduate student in the laboratory agrees.

“Most of the projects I have been involved in were studies that I personally developed, starting from the research question, to the collection of data, and final preparation of the manuscripts. The satisfaction of seeing a manuscript in its final form and ready for publication after months of dedication and hard work is what I find most interesting about this graduate program,” he says.

“Pulmonary rehabilitation is an important intervention for individuals with chronic lung disease,” notes Dr. Camp. “It is comprised of individualized exercise, education and behavioral modification delivered by a multidisciplinary team.  Therefore, the research opportunities in pulmonary rehabilitation are extremely diverse.  We are interested in many aspects of rehabilitation, from optimal exercise programs for our most frail patients, to telehealth programs to reach individuals in remote communities.

“Graduate students in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research Laboratory learn from each other, from the patients and health care professionals in the clinical programs, and from other researchers in the field which provides a rich learning environment.”

For more information about the work of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, or to learn more about graduate student opportunities, visit: .


Rehabilitation Sciences students, Carmen Sima, Christen Chan & Satvir Dhillon.