Our Rationale

—Why do we need a research training program that focuses on gender, women and addictions?

There is growing recognition of the need for researchers to explore sex and gender differences in addictions research. Analyzing the sex and gender differences in the experience of addiction is crucial to our knowledge of the impact of substance use on human health, gender-specific treatment, services, and health policy.

Our experience in women's health shows that women often experience addiction alongside other social and health concerns including mental illness, trauma, violence and HIV/AIDS. Research and policy often overlook these intersections and the resulting co-morbidities leaving substance abuse to be addressed in isolation of broader social and environmental determinants of health. Clinical practice in addictions is often not fully informed by a gendered analysis or by multidisciplinary research that can shed light on the complexities of the problem.

By developing researchers to apply a sex- and gender-based analysis we hope to influence research outcomes, practice and policy change in the area of women's health and addiction services.

—What are “sex” and “gender”?


  • a multidimensional biological construct
  • encompasses anatomy, physiology, genes and hormones that together create a human package that affects how we are labeled
  • usually conceptualized on the female/male binary,
  • in reality, an individual's sex characteristics exist on a continuum


  • the socially prescribed and experienced dimensions of “femaleness” and “maleness”
  • a social construct
  • culturally based and historically specific
  • always linked to the social world

Source: Johnson, J. L., Greaves, L., & Repta, R. (2007). Better science with sex and gender: A primer for health research. Vancouver: Women's Health Research Network.

Our Vision, Mission & Values [top]


Our vision is to create a research unit with a multidisciplinary team of health researchers who lead in training and mentoring clinical, biomedical, social and behavioural research scientists in gender, women and addictions research, with a focus on the intersections of addictions with violence, trauma and mental health, in a variety of settings.


Our mission is to produce a community of addictions researchers representing a range of disciplines, sectors and institutions who will lead British Columbia and Canada in conducting interdisciplinary research in relation to addictions, violence, trauma and mental health in girls and women. By conducting research that attends to sex and gender differences and that incorporates mix-methodologies and perspectives, new knowledge of the complexities of addiction will be discovered that can be applied nationally and internationally.


We will be considered among the best addictions research training providers and researchers renowned for:

  • Integration of research, policy and practice,
  • Multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral training,
  • Performance-oriented research training,
  • Accessible nature of the program,
  • Responsiveness to addiction research needs of girls and women, and
  • Technology-enhanced approach to research training.

The Program [top]

IMPART is a research training program for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and clinician or community researchers conducting research in the area of women, gender and addictions, with a focus on the intersections of addictions with violence, trauma and mental health. During the program, trainees:

  • work with their IMPART mentor to develop a learning plan that addresses their individual training needs
  • complete an online course in the core concepts in gender, addictions, violence, trauma and mental health
  • participate in eight monthly seminars per year (Sept–May)
  • attend an annual IMPART retreat
  • engage in trainee-driven, multidisciplinary, collaborative projects

More details can be found on the IMPART Training Program page.

Program Advisory Committee

A Program Advisory Committee (PAC) oversees the development and delivery of the research training program. A team of Mentors, Collaborators and a student representative work together to ensure:

  • the program vision and goals are met
  • the curriculum and learning opportunities meet learner's needs
  • recruitment strategies reach and attract a diverse audience
  • admissions processes and funding guidelines are consistent
  • all aspects of the CIHR Program are satisfied, including the evaluation requirements and dissemination of training results

The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health administers IMPART and provides support to staff and the Program Advisory Committee.

Admission Review Committee

An Admission Review Committee with representatives from the Mentors and Collaborators convene quarterly and are responsible for the admissions process.

Our Partners [top]

The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health (BCCEWH) along with partners from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre have united to develop and implement this unique addictions research training program.

Our Collaborators

IMPART has affiliations with community organizations, government departments, and community networks that provide support to women and their families. Our collaborators may participate in our seminar series or provide opportunities for research practicums to IMPART students.

  • Provincial Health Office
  • BC Ministry of Health - Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • BC Ministry of Health - Women's and Maternal Health
  • Centre for Addictions Research of BC
  • Kaiser Foundation
  • Dept. of Sociology, University of Victoria
  • UBC Institute of Mental Health

Graduate Testimonials [top]

PhD trainee, Neuroscience, graduated December 2011:

As a PhD student in Behavioural Neuroscience at UBC, IMPART has significantly impacted my training experience in many essential ways. I developed translational skills to effectively communicate my jargon filled, and often highly complex, research results to a variety of audiences. My growth as a neuroscience researcher has been greatly enhanced by the IMPART program. The transdisciplinary emphasis and practice that IMPART provides has provided me with an experience that I believe has been invaluable to my training as an academic researcher.

PhD trainee, Interdisciplinary Studies, graduated December 2011:

As the main goals and perspectives of IMPART target sex- and gender-based analyses in addictions research with a focus on the intersections of violence, trauma and mental health, it has been a unique opportunity for me to develop my knowledge and put it into practice. During the last months, through mentoring, completing IMPART courses, and participation in seminars, workshops, and conferences conducted by IMPART, and a comprehensive review of literature, I provided the required knowledge to work on my research. I have also found some interesting collaborators for future research with other trainees and mentors that can provide me with a broad foundation and strong motivation to do my research, as learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field.

MA trainee, Clinical Psychology, graduated August 2011:

IMPART helped me broaden my knowledge beyond the clinical psychology “silo” and learn how other disciplines approach mental health and substance use. Indeed, through my seminar presentations my interest was sufficiently peaked in the biological and neurological components of mental health that I am now enrolled in a neuro-anatomy course. Perhaps what I gained most from the IMPART process was hearing the often divergent but always fascinating view points of the other IMPART members, each person coming from a different background with a different focus of research but a similar passion for creating dialogue regarding substance use and gender.

PhD trainee, Clinical Psychology, graduated August 2011:

Being a member of the IMPART program allowed me to gain experience integrating sex and gender analyses to addictions research, strengthened my understanding of how research findings translate into policy and practice, and allowed me to bridge clinical and academic research. The program provided me with the knowledge necessary to be able to translate my research findings into prevention and treatment programs. I improved my oral and written communication, allowing me to be better equipped to disseminate my research findings to individuals from different disciplines. The program provided me with the opportunity to further develop my interpersonal and teamwork skills with mentors and other trainees who also have an interest in addictions research. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from key researchers within the field of addictions.

MA trainee, Epidemiology, graduated July 2011:

Previous to my fellowship, I had this feeling that the medical model of addiction just didn't cover everything, it was missing something, but I did not have enough education in the field to figure out exactly what the missing pieces were. The opportunity presented to me by IMPART to receive training, and attend and present at seminars, enabled me to figure out just what those missing and disjointed pieces were. My fellowship helped me develop greater understanding, knowledge, and compassion so I can be effective in the field.

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