A First for Family Medicine: Two DFCM Faculty Members named Canada Research Chairs

Jun 19, 2019

For the first time in the history of the program, two family physicians from the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine have been awarded Canada Research Chairs by Dr. Noah Ivers the Canadian government.

In an announcement made on June 14th, 2019, Dr. Nav Persaud and Dr. Noah Ivers were both named tier 2 Canada Research Chairs. The Research Chair program supports research in engineering, natural sciences, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, with the aim of recruiting and retaining top scientific talent.

For Dr. Noah Ivers, a Research Chair in Implementation of Evidence-based Practice, the Chair will go a long way in supporting the work he has been doing for over ten years.

“My research is on finding ways to systematically make it easier to deliver the best care possible to our patients,” says Dr. Ivers, who is also a family physician and at Women’s College Hospital. “This support will help me find new ways to use data more proactively to understand where our gaps are, advance methodology and support my team in capacity-building.”

Dr. Nav Persaud, a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital who is also coming off an exciting few weeks with the release of a publication and a mention of his CLEAN meds project in the national pharmacare report, has been named a Canada Research Chair in Health Justice.

“I’m trying to understand why people who experience poverty are more likely to suffer more medical problems and, ultimately, are more likely to die than people that are wealthy,” says Persaud. “One of my focuses with this Chair will be on better access to tangible goods that we know promote health, like healthy foods and effective medicines, and trying to inform public policy changes that could help increase access to these goods.”

Dr. Eva Grunfeld, DFCM’s Vice-Chair of Research, says the announcement signals a growing support of family medicine research from all levels of government.

Dr. Nav PersaudDr. Nav Persaud “The naming of these two exemplary faculty members is remarkable – I congratulate both of them,” says Dr. Grunfeld. “Fifty years ago family medicine as a discipline was in its infancy – and even two decades ago we were debating the future of family medicine research – and here we have two faculty being named Canada Research Chairs. This announcement shows how far we’ve come as a discipline and the great work Dr. Persaud and Dr. Ivers are doing.”

Dr. Ivers says the announcement is also a testament to the family medicine researchers who paved a path for him.

“Our mentors like Dr. Grunfeld, Dr. Ross Upshur, Dr. Rick Glazier and so many others, have had a major influence at the policy level and have created a space for primary care-oriented research in Canada -  they really led the way.”

Dr. Persaud agrees and notes that increased interest in primary care and family medicine research is also part of a growing recognition that health care research needs to start where patients access the health care system – through their family doctors.

“The sort of research I do has grown out of clinical experiences in family medicine – by what I see day-to-day with my patients. Supporting family doctors doing research support regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally should be the natural state of things – I’m glad to see that is happening.”