What is the VADA Program?

The Visual and Automated Disease Analytics Program is a graduate training program funded by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program. It aims to train the next generation of health, health informatics, and computational science graduate students to translate complex health data into insights that can be used to improve the health of populations and support health professional decision making.

It is not a degree program, but rather a program graduate students from different disciplines can participate in while concurrently finishing their graduate degree through University of Manitoba or University of Victoria.

If I’ve been admitted to a graduate program at an institution other than University of Victoria or University of Manitoba, can I participate in the VADA Program?

In order to be admitted into the VADA Program students must be enrolled in a full time graduate program at University of Manitoba or University of Victoria. As an external student, you could still participate in the summer school.

If I have only basic statistical knowledge around data analysis can I apply?

Basic knowledge is fine. The program is fairly interdisciplinary and not all of the trainees are statisticians, so part of what the leadership team tries to build into the program structure is opportunities for students to learn from each other in areas from which they are not as well versed. Ideally students will be familiar with regression and clustering.

How long will the program run for?

This program has funding to run over 7 years and will end in 2024. This means that the last year for admittance will begin in September 2022.

Can I participate in only parts of the program (e.g. only the internship or only the course)?

Participating in only portions of the program is not possible. Full participation is required and participation can only happen upon being admitted into the program. External students have been able to register and participate in the summer school.

It looks like I’m not eligible to apply – what other options do I have to build my skills in R or learn more about the intersection of data and health?

The summer school is often open to external students and is a great opportunity to gain the skills fostered in the program. The George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation does host sessions on R and various other statistically methodologies and programs. Another option would be the Statistical Consulting Service at the University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus.

Do I need to know my thesis topic in order to apply?

Given that students are admitted into the program based on how well their research interests align with the goals of the VADA Program, potential students do need to know their research topic prior to applying into the program.

I’m in the third year of my PhD – can I apply?

Students are admitted into the program closer to the beginning of their programs while they are still tackling course work (1st year Masters Students or 2nd year PhD students). This allows students to integrate the skills learned through the program into their thesis work. Students beyond this point will be considered for admittance on a case by case basis, as long as they have not yet moved past all course work and begun working on their thesis in earnest.

My advisor is retired – can I apply?

If an advisor is not currently affiliated with the program they would need to apply at the same time as the student. As long as the advisor is willing to fulfill their commitments as a VADA Program faculty member, they can still apply even if they are retired.

My advisor does not want to commit to being a VADA Program Faculty member – can I apply?

All students must have an advisor/co-advisor who is a member of the VADA Program faculty and willing to fulfill the responsibilities that come with program affiliation.

Who should I use as my references?

Two referees who have known you in a professional capacity (for example: supervisors, colleagues or professors) who can speak to your professional strengths and why you would be a good fit into the program. The letters need to be sent directly by your referees to 

Can I work full time while enrolled in the program?

No – students enrolled in the VADA Program receive a funding stipend as part of their participation ($19 000 at the MSc level and $23 000 at the PhD level). Receiving this stipend limits students to work no more than 15 hours/week in paid employment.

How Can I Apply?

Applications typically open in December of any given year for acceptance into the program in the following September. Admission requirements can be found here and the application form can be found here

Do I need to have been accepted into my graduate program before applying into the VADA Program?

No, you can apply into the VADA Program as long as you have already applied into your graduate program of choice at University of Manitoba or University of Victoria. However, participation in VADA does require that you be enrolled in a graduate degree by the time that VADA Program programming begins (September 1st – August 31st of any given year). For more information on application requirements click here.

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