Partnerships provide stability for MatCH

Innovative graduate program will continue for another three years

Tamara Vineberg - 03 September 2019

Thanks to the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, the Women and Children's Health Research Institute, the University of Alberta's Office of the Provost and the Department of Pediatrics, interested students will continue to benefit from an innovative graduate program.

The Maternal and Child Health Scholarship Program (MatCH) recently received a financial nod of approval by obtaining program sustainability funding for another three years. The Office of the Provost will fund MatCH $50,000 a year while the Stollery Foundation will provide $150,000 a year. WCHRI will continue to fund scholarships and the department provides administrative support, says Sujata Persad, associate professor and program director for graduate education.

The MatCH program encompasses basic science, clinical, epidemiology and health services research in the departments of medical genetics, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology as part of the Medical Sciences Graduate Program. MatCH began in 2012 with a call from the provost who was seeking innovative ways to train graduate students, with a focus on improving rates and time of degree completion. During the first semester of MatCH, students rotate through three laboratories for four weeks each. This provides them an opportunity to see if they are interested in the supervisor's research project and provides a chance for the supervisor to evaluate the student.

During the time that the student is rotating through the labs, MatCH pays their entire stipend. Once a match has been made between a student and supervisor, the program will pay for half of their stipend while the supervisor picks up the other half for up to two years of the student's training program.

Persad has developed a business plan for the program, which includes qualifying MatCH as an embedded certificate. The proposal is still going through the approval stages but her goal is to have the students' specialized training recognized on their university transcript.

MatCH accepts up to five students per semester and has high standards, including a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 and significant research experience. "The majority of students accepted by MatCH have a GPA of 3.8 or higher They are very exceptional students. They win scholarships very easily. They are ambitious students. We don't take everybody who applies. We only take those who are qualified," says Persad.

More information about MatCH can be found on the website. MaTCH is also seeking more supervisors to become involved in the program. Contact if you are an interested faculty member.