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Three St. Michael’s scientists awarded prestigious Canada Research Chairs

Toronto, June 14, 2019

By Anna Wassermann

Three St. Michael’s Hospital scientists were appointed Canada Research Chairs earlier today, in an announcement made by Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan at the University of Victoria.

Drs. Pat O’Campo, Nav Persaud and Tara Gomes were named chairs for the first time, joining seven other current Canada Research Chair holders at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The Canada Research Chairs Program aims to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development, by attracting and retaining a body of diverse and exceptional researchers. Chairholders are scientists who strive to achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social science.

The three new chairholders at St. Michael’s Hospital, whose work is outlined below, are making significant contributions to the areas of family and community medicine, epidemiology and social and population health.

Dr. Pat O’Campo, interim executive director of the Li Ka Shing Research Institute – Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Population Health Intervention Research

Dr. Pat O’Campo
Dr. Pat O’Campo

While we tend to think of health policies as responsible for keeping people healthy, social and economic policies are larger determinants of health than the health-care system.

Dr. Pat O’Campo, interim executive director of the Li Ka Shing Research Institute and a scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, is leading research into the advancement of population health interventions by evaluating current practices, and informing the design of health and social protection programs and policies to reduce urban health inequities.

Appointed a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Population Health Intervention Research, Dr. O’Campo said she’s elated to receive this appointment, and excited about the ways in which it will allow her to focus her research and collaborate with others moving forward.

“Receiving this chair means we can develop new partnerships with organizations working on tough urban health challenges that impact health, and create new opportunities for training in this relatively new area of research,” said Dr. O’Campo. “It’s a real honour to be recognized for your body of research, but also to be recognized for your proposed program of research for the next seven years.”

Dr. Nav Persaud, scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions – Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Health Justice

Dr. Nav Persaud
Dr. Nav Persaud

Wealthy people tend to live longer and healthier lives than those who are disadvantaged.

Dr. Nav Persaud, a scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital’s MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, is studying initiatives aimed at narrowing the gap between the highest and lowest wealth brackets. In particular, he’s examining the effects of providing individuals experiencing poverty with tangible goods to improve their health, such as essential medicines and healthy foods.

Dr. Persaud, who was appointed a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Health Justice, said he’s looking forward to continuing his work with the support of St. Michael’s Hospital and the Canada Research Chairs Program.

“I’m delighted and grateful to be appointed a CRC,” said Dr. Persaud. “It can be difficult to secure funding, and with this appointment, I look forward to five years of support to continue studying ways to address serious global health inequalities.”

Dr. Tara Gomes, scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute – Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Drug Policy Research and Evaluation

Dr. Tara Gomes
Dr. Tara Gomes

Most adults will receive at least one prescription in their lifetime, and the resulting financial investment for Canada will exceed $34 billion annually. As a result, evidence-based drug policy decision-making is important to ensure resources are allocated in a way that’s effective for Canadian patients.

Dr. Tara Gomes, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and ICES, is undertaking an innovative research program to leverage health databases nationally and internationally and conduct research that will inform drug policy decisions impacting the lives of Canadians.

A Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Drug Policy Research and Evaluation, Dr. Gomes said she looks forward to the ways in which the appointment will allow her to collaborate with policy-makers and patients from across Canada to better understand their needs related to emerging drug policy concerns.

“I firmly believe that integrating evidence, policy and lived experience creates an innovative research environment that can generate impactful work with the potential to drive real change,” said Dr. Gomes. “I’m grateful and excited to have this opportunity as a Canada Research Chair, to expand the scope and impact of my research over the coming years.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit www.unityhealth.to.


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