In the world of postdoctoral research, where career uncertainty often overshadows opportunity, Chris Kang’s story highlights the transformation underway in Alberta. Through the Alberta Innovates Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, Chris receives support for stretching beyond disciplinary boundaries and leveraging technological advances to have real-world impact.

Chris relocated from Washington to the University of Calgary to pursue an ambitious project that involves the development of brain-like artificial reality models that can be calibrated with real data and used as a tool for assessing cognitive functions in a clinical setting. His goal is to apply his technical and scientific skills to improve clinical care for people with Alzheimer’s, working with doctors from the Foothills Hospital to apply his research.

Chris is not alone. Alberta Innovates’ Postdoctoral program is instrumental in helping Alberta-based post-secondary institutions recruit, develop, and retain people focused on health technology and innovation. Three award streams exist under the program:

  1. The recruitment stream provides a stipend of up to $70,000 per year for two years for top talent just starting their postdoctoral work.
  2. The Postdoctoral Fellowship in Health Innovation (PFHI) provides a stipend of up to $55,000 for two years.
  3. The Enhancement fellowship provides a stipend of up to $55,000 for one year.

All streams prioritize work that accelerates the translation of research into new products, treatments, or solutions, particularly involving digital and data-driven tools and approaches. While the program offers above average stipend amounts, it is more than a financial lifeline—it’s a launch pad for careers that transcend the lab.   

Nicole Mardis, Director of Health Innovation Talent at Alberta Innovates, explains the vision:  

“While postdoctoral fellows play a pivotal role in scientific discovery, many are caught in the race for limited academic positions, focusing narrowly on increasing their publications to compete. We aim to shift this paradigm by equipping them with the skills, tools, and mindsets necessary to translate discoveries into meaningful real-world applications, expanding their impact and the range of careers they can springboard into.”

Participating universities are administering multiple competitions each year for the fellowships with the funding coming from Alberta Innovates. Fellowship support can be used for activities anywhere from discovery research and technology development to applied testing and scaling up of digital solutions in the health system.

What does the future hold for these postdocs? For Chris, the dream is to transition into a clinical research role in a hospital setting.

“I’m very grateful for the fellowship because it’s helped me tremendously in terms of research collaboration,” he says. “I have more opportunities to pursue collaborative research, more opportunities to carry out my own research, and more opportunities to connect with people at Alberta Health Services.” 

Other fellowship recipients have their sights set on technology development and commercialization. All are helping move research findings more seamlessly from the pages of a journal into the hands of those who can apply it in meaningful ways.  
If advancing research into applied use resonates with you, visit the program pages at each participating university to learn how you may engage as a fellowship applicant or supervisor!

University of Alberta 

University of Calgary 

University of Lethbridge 

Postdoctoral Fellowship Recipients

View the current list of recipients.

Postdoctoral Fellowships Recipients


Nicole Mardis

Director, Health Innovation Talent