Research focused on chronic disease, physical disability and obesity will be expanded at UBC Okanagan through the opening of two new research spaces.

The spaces, located in the newly renovated Upper Campus Health building, officially opened Monday.

They were made possible by $723,567 in funding from the federal government, $123,567 from the provincial government and $60,000 from the Frank C. Diener Foundation.

“For me as minister responsible for accessibility, it’s putting a marker down that doing research in the area of disability and accessibility matters,” Carla Qualtrough, minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, said Monday at UBCO. “Our government’s investment . . . into this new and cutting-edge space will help it become a hub for research and knowledge. The work being done at UBC will have a positive impact in the lives of so many Canadians with disabilities.”

Research in the new facilities will be led by Kathleen Martin Ginis, professor in the school of health and exercise sciences and the faculty of medicine at UBCO, along with others.

“To have a space where we can bring in community members and community organizations to help us design the research, to help us conduct the research and then to make sure that research is turned into results, products and services the community can use is huge,” said Martin Ginis.

Until now, Martin Ginis and her team have not had a research lab to bring people into.

Instead, they had to go out into the community to meet with people.

“This space really epitomizes everything we stand for in ensuring that our research is community-engaged, and that we bring in our community partners and engage them in the entire research cycle,” Martin Ginis said of the new research space.

Part of the research space includes an exercise training facility adapted for people with disabilities.

“We can bring people into this facility and we can test . . . new ways of training people with disabilities and with diabetes,” said Martin Ginis. “Then we can take those innovations out into the community and implement them.”

Lesley Lutes, associate professor of psychology at UBCO, will also be leading research in the new research space, focused on clinical health psychology.

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