April 30, 2024

Preserving the past, embracing the future: The O'Brien Institute celebrates Asian Heritage Month 2024

May is an opportunity to recognize the remarkable contributions of Institute members who are shaping the future of public health

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. The O'Brien Institute for Public Health recognizes the important contributions and impact of our community members of Asian heritage. In line with this year's theme of Preserving the past, embracing the future: Amplifying Asian Canadian legacy, we will be highlighting and honouring some O'Brien Institute members of Asian heritage and their significant contributions to our Institute and community.

As always, and especially this month, we say a huge thank you to our researchers, community partners, and larger community of Asian heritage for working with us to advance public health.

Learn more about our Asian Heritage Month features below.


Dr. Ping Liu, PhD

Epidemiologist, Department of Medicine, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences

Dr. Ping Liu is an epidemiologist in the Department of Medicine and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. Dr. Liu recently received a grant from Alberta Innovates that supports the creation of tools that predict the chances of survival with kidney failure for individual patients. Her research goal is to improve the experience and quality of life of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) by generating high-quality evidence that will inform their treatment decisions. Dr. Liu’s research program is supported by the Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training (KRESCENT) New Investigator Award, co-sponsored by the Kidney Foundation of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Liu contributed to the development and testing of a novel risk prediction tool for people with moderate-to-severe CKD, called KDpredict. KDpredict is a digital predictive algorithm that calculates one- to five-year risks of kidney failure and death in people with moderate to severe CKD, using four variables readily available in clinic practice. KDpredict outperformed the current benchmark model for kidney failure risk prediction in external testing and provided accurate mortality risk predictions. By providing risk predictions for both these outcomes, KDpredict is poised to become the new standard prediction tool and supports holistic decision-making in people with CKD. The findings of KDpredict were published in a British Medical Journal paper for which Dr. Liu was a significant contributor. 

This Asian Heritage Month, we celebrate Dr. Liu for her efforts and dedication to advancing public health with her research.

Dr. Turin Chowdhury, PhD

Associate Professor, departments of family medicine and community health sciences

Dr. Turin Chowdhury is an associate professor in the departments of family medicine and community health sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. His research interest focuses on challenges in access to care and unmet needs faced by the socially vulnerable population of the society, including new immigrants, refugees, and visible minority/ethnic communities.

Dr. Chowdhury, an advocate for social justice and equity, leads a diverse research team addressing pressing healthcare challenges faced by vulnerable communities. He is a trailblazer in community-engaged research through his emphasis of meaningful involvement of community members. In addition to his outstanding research, he excels as an educator, enriching learning experiences for his students. Dr. Chowdhury is an exceptional equity researcher, mentor, and leader, driven by an innate curiosity and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

He has received several awards for his outstanding contributions to his community including the Ekushey BCAOC Padak 2024 Award from the Bangladesh Canada Association of Calgary, the Inclusion Champions Awards from Immigrant Champions of Canada, the O’Brien Institute Mid-Career Research Leader Award, and the VOICE Community Impact Award, among others.

Dr. Chowdhury exemplifies research excellence, and we celebrate him this Asian Heritage Month for his efforts in advancing public health.

Dr. Hude Quan, PhD

Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences

Dr. Hude Quan is a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Classification, Terminology and Standards (WHO-CC CTS) at the Cumming School of Medicine. His main research interests involve developing methodologies or tools for data driven approaches to precision health, which is an approach that tailors health care delivery to an individual’s specific situation.

As director of the WHO-CC CTS at the University of Calgary, Dr. Quan works on developing terminologies, classifications and standardizations for diseases and health information. Through his development of methodologies to improve the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding system, Dr. Quan has established methods and algorithms that have been adopted internationally to define comorbidities, quality and safety. He is also working on extracting information from electronic medical records and analyzing the data for precision health. As well, Dr. Quan is working with an engineering group to develop a user-friendly app using AI tools to effect behavioural changes and promote health specific to people’s individual needs.

Born in China, with ancestry from Korea, Dr. Quan moved to Canada in 1993 for his PhD and, since then, has worked on overcoming the challenges of using health data in research. In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Immigrants Services Calgary for his impact in the community. 

This month, we celebrate Dr. Hude Quan for his dedication to advancing public health through research excellence.

Dr. Na Li, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences

Dr. Na Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. Her background is in statistics and operations research for health care, and she is a data and statistical scientist in medical applications. Dr. Li’s research interests are in the areas of operations research, mathematical modelling, applied statistics, data science, and applications of statistical methods for health-care researchers.

Dr. Li recently received a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) grant to build Canada’s first federated learning framework for disease surveillance. For this project, Dr. Li will build a system that compiles and analyzes medical data from electronic medical records (EMRs) in three Canadian cities. She will then evaluate the system’s ability to detect acute heart attacks, hypertension and sepsis, without disclosing patients’ information. According to Dr. Li, the project “has the potential to revolutionize the field of health research by allowing for collaborative EMR machine learning while addressing data privacy concerns.” 

This month, we commemorate Dr. Li for her impressive research endeavours and commitment to advancing public health.

Dr. Aliya Kassam, PhD

Assocciate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences

Dr. Aliya Kassam is an associate professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. She is also the director of scholarship and the research and education lead for the Office of Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) at the University of Calgary. Dr. Kassam has a background in psychology, epidemiology and health services research, and her interests focus on the intersection of medical education with health services, specifically in the areas of how medical education impacts patient-centered care and patient safety.

As the research lead of the PGME, Dr. Kassam’s population of interest is resident physicians. In her portfolio, she is interested in transitions from medical school to residency and residency into practice. Her primary research areas at PGME are: 1) assessment of non-medical competencies within residents; 2) examining the structure of residency education programs and 3) the application of evidence-based practice in medical education. Additionally, through her passion for wellness, advocacy and social justice, Dr. Kassam founded the Wellness Innovation Scholarship for Health Professions Education and Sciences (WISHES) lab to enhance wellness among learners within the Cumming School of Medicine.

We celebrate Dr. Kassam this Asian Heritage Month for the important work she does in advancing public health.