Sept. 8, 2020

O’Brien Institute announces Equity, Diversity and Inclusion portfolio

Sept. 18 webinar will introduce portfolio, led by Dr. Aliya Kassam, PhD
Diverse hands
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion portfolio

In a step toward building a culture of excellence around equity, diversity and inclusion, the O’Brien Institute for Public Health announces its new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) portfolio, led by Dr. Aliya Kassam, PhD.

Social justice and equity are fundamental tenets of public health and the O’Brien Institute is committed to the internal work of weaving these tenets into its organizational practices, as outlined in the O’Brien Institute statement on racism

Kassam said she hopes to amplify voices within the Cumming School of Medicine relevant to public health, including groups such as the Black Medical Students Association (BMSA) and those who work in Indigenous health, disability studies, aging and many others.

“It’s important to understand the needs of marginalized groups so we can as an Institute tailor our research and education to ensure that we’re not only promoting equity, but also justice," Kassam said.

“I’m excited for change, to promote equity and justice for marginalized voices.”


Dr. Aliya Kassam, PhD.

Dr. Aliya Kassam, PhD.

Kassam is a medical education and health services researcher. She says the new portfolio is timely, amid recent events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. This portfolio will be introducing a fresh look into health inequities for marginalized groups.

Terms of reference for the EDI portfolio will be defined further at an upcoming virtual event Sept. 18, where Kassam will present on the portfolio, define and describe appropriate terminology in the EDI space and introduce intersectionality as a guiding conceptual and methodological framework. The role of intersectionality in reducing health disparities and promoting health equity and social justice will also be highlighted.

Dr. Christine Friedenreich, PhD, interim scientific director at the O’Brien Institute says along with her colleagues, she recognized the need for a focus on EDI within the Institute. As part of the strategic planning for the next five years and in preparation for the new Scientific Director, Dr. Tom Stelfox, MD’s arrival on November 1, 2020, they have re-organized the O’Brien Institute Executive Committee, which included creating this new portfolio.

“It is extremely important for the O’Brien Institute to be a strong voice and to show leadership on EDI topics, hence, we decided to create a dedicated portfolio to ensure that as an Institute we are addressing these topics in our research, programs and policy work,” she said.

Register now for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Public Health: Intersectionality and Implications, happening Sept. 18.