IGH Gender, Sex and Health Research Chairs

The New Perspectives in Gender, Sex and Health Research Chair program, funded by the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH), supports research excellence in the gender, sex and health community. The goals of the program include expanding and strengthening health research capacity relevant to gender (socio-cultural experiences) and sex (biological factors) and supporting knowledge translation relevant to the health of women and men, girls and boys.

The Gender, Sex and Health Chairs

Each of the chairs are health researchers who have developed a reputation for excellence in research, supporting outstanding research programmes that enhance the health of Canadians, building capacity within the gender, sex and health community and developing innovative knowledge translation strategies.

Dr. Sonia Lupien
Senior Research Chair - Stress, Gender/Sex, and Mental Health Across the Lifespan: Generating New Knowledge and Translating it Into Successful Education Programs

Dr. Marlene Moretti
Senior Research Chair - Violence and Victimization: Reducing Risk and Promoting Health and Well Being for Girls and Young Women

Dr. Olena Hankivsky
Mid-Career Research Chair - New Perspectives on Sex/Gender, Diversity and Health Reform in Canada

Dr. Maureen Heaman
Mid-Career Research Chair - Disparities in Women's Prenatal Health, Access to Prenatal Care, and Pregnancy Outcomes

Dr. Olga Kovalchuk
Mid-Career Research Chair - Molecular mechanisms of the sex differences in radiation-induced bystander effect in vivo

Dr. Lynn McIntyre
Mid-Career Research Chair - Sharing Women's Food Provisioning Experiences in Diverse Global Settings to Reap the Food Security Dividend

Dr. Sonia Lupien

Stress, Gender/Sex, and Mental Health Across the Lifespan: Generating New Knowledge and Translating it Into Successful Education Programs
Dr. Lupien's program of research takes into account the differences that sex and gender have on mental illness. As the majority of studies related to mental illness have been conducted with male participants, her work aims to fill a much needed gap in research by considering the social and biological differences between the two sexes. Dr. Lupien's research program includes a significant commitment to knowledge translation. To this end, her Centre for Studies on Human Stress is dedicated to improving the physical and mental health of Canadians by empowering individuals with scientifically grounded information on the effects of stress on the brain and body.

About Dr. Lupien
Dr. Sonia Lupien is the Scientific Director of the Mental Health Research Centre Fernand Seguin at Hospital Louis H. Lafontaine, and is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal. Dr. Lupien is also the the Founder and Director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress. After completing her PhD in Neuroscience at Université de Montréal, Dr. Lupien received postdoctoral research training at the University of California in San Diego and at Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Lupien’s research interests focus on the effects of stress over the human lifespan.

Early in her career, she showed that high levels of stress hormones in older adults are linked to both memory impairment and smaller volume of the hippocampus, a brain structure involved in learning and memory. Two years later, she showed that children from low socioeconomic status present higher levels of stress hormones when compared to children from high socioeconomic status. Importantly, Dr. Lupien’s research has demonstrated that stress may have a negative impact on humans at any age, be it young or old. Her future projects include a research program on the detection and intervention for stress in the workplace, as well as the development of the DeStress for Success Program that aims at educating children and teenagers on stress and its impact on learning and memory.

Dr. Sonia Lupien
Université de Montréal
Mental Health Research Centre Fernand Seguin
Hôpital Louis-H Lafontaine
7331, rue Hochelaga
Montréal, QC H1N 3V2
Tel: 514-251-4015
E-mail: sonia.lupien@umontreal.ca
Website: Centre for Studies on Human Stress

Dr. Marlene Moretti

Violence and Victimization: Reducing Risk and Promoting Health and Well Being for Girls and Young Women
Until recently, research on aggression and violence has focused primarily on boys. While boys tend to engage in more serious acts of violence, rates of violent crime have increased among young women and these trends are similar to what girls report about their own behaviour. Many girls involved in aggression and violence have experienced severe and chronic victimization and they struggle with a myriad of social and mental health issues. Such findings signal the need to fast track research on aggression, victimization and violence in the lives of girls, with the goal of informing social policy, and developing programs to promote health and well-being.

Dr. Moretti's program of research addresses four central areas that relate to the health and well-being of adolescent girls and young women:

  1. The etiology, developmental course and health consequences of exposure to victimization and involvement in violence.
  2. The unique factors and needs related to cultural and social marginalization that place young women at risk for poor health outcomes.
  3. The development of effective intervention and the promotion of community capacity to reduce risk and promote health and well-being.
  4. The development of an international collaborative team to study risk, resilience, prevention and intervention related to gender, sex, victimization and violence.

Throughout all facets of research, a central goal is knowledge translation, and training and mentorship aimed at building research capactiy and evidence-based health service delivery.

About Dr. Moretti
Dr. Moretti is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University, and leads the Adolescent Health Laboratory at SFU. Over the course of her career, she has focused on developmental factors related to psychological health and well being, particularly as they relate to the transition of adolescence. Her work considers questions such as: how do adolescent girls and boys develop a healthy sense of self, the capacity for self-reflection and self-determination, and the confidence and skill to navigate secure and intimate close relationships? Why are some at risk for psychopathology and poor social adjustment? How do social relationships, social, cognitive and emotional development moderate the impact of adversity? How can support for young women and men at-risk be improved to ensure the best outcomes possible? These questions have been foremost in determining the studies she has undertaken with her students, colleagues and community partners. Her work also places high priority on knowledge translation in research on child and youth mental health and welcomes active partnerships with the community and government stakeholders to better serve youth and their families.

Dr. Marlene Moretti
Simon Fraser University
Department of Psychology
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6
Tel: 778-782-3604
E-mail: moretti@sfu.ca
Website: Adolescent Health Laboratory

Dr. Olena Hankivsky

New Perspectives on Sex/Gender, Diversity and Health Reform in Canada
Health care reform is a global phenomenon aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health sector in the face of limited government resources, demographic changes and technological innovations. Most recently in Canada, the government of British Columbia concluded a consultative process entitled The Conversation on Health, intended to lead to historical transformations to the health care system in the province. Even though reforms to the health care system differentially affect vulnerable and marginalized populations including those in need of care, those who work in the formal care system and those who provide informal or unpaid care, most health care reform interventions are designed and implemented with little attention to gender and diversity. Dr. Hankivsky's research program aims to apply a gender and diversity analysis that uses a mixed methods approach that prioritizes action and knowledge translation to health policy reforms stemming from the most recent health reform initiative in Canada that is, the BC Conversation on Health. Further, her program will evaluate current approaches and tools of gender-based analysis (GBA) for assessing the effects of health reform for women in all their diversity. As the research will be informed by a gender and diversity analysis, the project also provides an opportunity to apply, evaluate and further refine current approaches to GBA in Canada to methodically capture not only gender but factors that intersect with gender including age, class, geography, language, race/ethnicity, ability and sexuality. The results of this program of research will contribute to gender equity and equitable health outcomes in research, policies, programs and legislation.

About Dr. Hankivsky
Dr. Hankivsky is an Associate Professor, Public Policy Program, Co-Director of the Institute for Critical Studies in Gender and Health at Simon Fraser University and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Senior Scholar in Population Health. She is also Co-Leader of the BC's Women's Health Research Network (funded by the MSFHR). Dr. Hankivsky specializes in public policy and political theory and has a particular interest in gender and health policy. She is the author of Social Policy and the Ethic of Care (2004, University of British Columbia Press), editor of Health and Intersectionality Inquiry in Canada (forthcoming University of Toronto Press) co-editor of Women’s Health in Canada: Critical Perspectives on Theory and Policy (2007, University of Toronto Press). Dr. Hankivsky's research has been published in journals such as the Social Science and Medicine, Critical Public Health, International Journal of Equity in Health, Journal of Health and Social Policy, Critical Social Policy, the International Journal of Health Services, and Canadian Public Policy. She has held various academic appointments at the University of Western Ontario and the University of British Columbia, including a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Olena Hankivsky
Simon Fraser University
Public Policy Program
515 West Hastings Street Room 3262
Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3
Tel: 778-782-5182
E-mail: oah@sfu.ca
Website: Dr. Olena Hankivsky - Public Policy Program

Dr. Maureen Heaman

Disparities in Women's Prenatal Health, Access to Prenatal Care, and Pregnancy Outcomes
Dr. Heaman's program of research will focus on women's health as it relates to pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnant women are not a homogeneous group and significant differences may exist among women. This program of research will use a gender and sex-based analysis (GBA) to conceptualize and measure health care use and quality of health care from the perspectives of pregnant women in diverse social, economic, and geographic locations.

Her research program has the following specific aims:

  1. to examine inequities and disparities in women's prenatal health and access to prenatal care
  2. to explore how these disparities are related to other health determinants such as income, ethnicity, migration, and geography
  3. to study the association of disparities in women's prenatal health and use of prenatal care with adverse pregnancy outcomes

The program will look at experiences of poor women, Aboriginal women, and immigrant women. One project will examine factors associated with inadequate use of prenatal care among inner-city women and results will be used to develop and test new service delivery models of prenatal care for inner-city women. Another project will explore perspectives of both women and health care providers regarding quality of prenatal care and again, results will help develop an instrument to measure quality of prenatal care. Knowledge translation is an important component of this program of research, with research users integrated in all phases, ensuring that results are used to influence program and policy development. Training of the future generation of researchers in women's health is given high priority.

About Dr. Heaman
Dr. Maureen Heaman is a Professor with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba, with cross appointments in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine. She holds a Research Scientist appointment with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and a Scientist appointment with the Manitoba Institute of Child Health. Her research interests include maternal health, perinatal epidemiology, and utilization and quality of prenatal care. Dr. Heaman has served on a number of boards, including MCN The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing as an editorial board member, the Maternal Health and Maternity Experiences Study Groups of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Advisory Board for the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health. In 2007, she was the recipient of the University of Manitoba Rh Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship and Research in the Interdisciplinary category. In 2008, she was selected as a recipient of a Centennial Award from the Canadian Nurses Association.

Dr. Maureen Heaman
University of Manitoba
Faculty of Nursing
Room 268 Helen Glass Centre for Nursing
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2
Tel: 204-474-6222
E-mail: Maureen_Heaman@umanitoba.ca
Website: Dr. Maureen Heaman - Faculty of Nursing

Dr. Olga Kovalchuk

Molecular mechanisms of the sex differences in radiation-induced bystander effect in vivo
One third of people today are likely to contract some form of carcinoma. More than half of these people are likely to receive some form of radiotherapy. While modern cancer radiation therapy has led to increased patient survival rates, the risk of treatment-related secondary complications and adverse effects is becoming a growing clinical problem. The bystander effect is an example of these secondary complications, and may occur upon any type of radiotherapy (the bystander effect is an effect that occurs when non-irradiated neighbouring cells may become instable and carcinogenesis or cancerous cells may develop in cancer-free cells). However, further study is required to provide pending conclusive evidence of the existence of the bystander effect and to identify the exact molecular mechanisms of bystander effect in vivo (that is, studying the effect of radiation on non-cancerous cells in patients receiving treatment). Different rates of tumours, including radiation-induced secondary malignancies, have been reported in males and females. Before any far-reaching conclusions can be made, Dr. Kovalchuk's research will use animal models as they are very useful tools in elucidating the different effect that radiation has in males and females. Her studies using animal models will lead to the development of strategies for the prevention or mitigation of the negative effect that radiation therapy can cause in humans, thus increasing patient survival rates.

About Dr. Kovalchuk
Dr. Kovalchuk is an Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge and has a long-standing interest in cancer research. Dr. Olga Kovalchuk was a high-school student in the Ukraine in April 1986 when the worst nuclear accident in history occurred at the Chernobyl plant, 600 kilometres from her home. Her first-hand experience with the devastation caused by the Chernobyl tragedy lead to her passion for her current program of study. Dr. Kovalchuk’s research is aimed at increasing cancer survival rates while preventing secondary tumours that may be caused by radiation therapy. Preliminary results suggest changes in the way chromosomes are packaged could contribute to increased risk of certain cancers in people exposed to radiation in the workplace or through cancer therapy. Dr. Kovalchuk plans to build on this research in an attempt to understand more about how radiation induces secondary tumours in cancer patients and what can be done to protect children of exposed parents from contracting cancer. Dr. Kovalchuk is also studying whether certain agents derived from plants could be given to patients before they receive radiation therapy to improve their chances of survival and reduce the negative side-effects of radiation.

Dr. Olga Kovalchuk
University of Lethbridge
Biological Sciences Department
4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, AB, T1K 3M4
Tel: 403-394-3916
E-mail: olga.kovalchuk@uleth.ca
Website: Olga Kovalchuk's Laboratory

Dr. Lynn McIntyre

Sharing Women's Food Provisioning Experiences in Diverse Global Settings to Reap the Food Security Dividend
The United Nations' First Millennium Development Goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. The elimination of hunger would yield a food security dividend beyond any other global achievement, and it would improve the lives of women and their children more than any other human development action. Dr. McIntyre's program of research seeks to listen to women in many parts of the world who struggle to meet their food needs and the food needs of their families, and in turn produce a shared voice, solidarity of purpose, and novel strategies that might be overlooked without a gendered analysis of women's food provisioning experiences.

About Dr. McIntyre
Dr. Lynn McIntyre is currently a Professor with the Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Calgary. Prior to joining the University of Calgary in 2006, Dr. McIntyre served three terms as Dean of the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dr. McIntyre’s quantitative and qualitative research studies are focused upon hunger and food insecurity both domestically and in lower and middle income countries with an emphasis on poverty and women.

Dr. Lynn McIntyre
Professor and CIHR Chair in Gender and Health
Dept. of Community Health Sciences
Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary
Teaching Research & Wellness (TRW building)
3rd Flr - 3E43
3280 Hospital Dr NW
Calgary, AB Canada T2N 4Z6
Tel: 403-220-8664
E-mail: lmcintyr@ucalgary.ca
Website: Dr. Lynn McIntyre

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