Dr. Andrew Pinto awarded $1.15 million CIHR Public Health Chair to reduce health inequities

From the U of T Department of Family & Community Medicine News

Dr. Andrew Pinto, an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) and family physician and public health specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, has been awarded a prestigious $1.15 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant to advance health and health equity in Canada.

One of only seven new Applied Public Health Chairs, and the only one awarded at the University of Toronto, the Chair position will allow Dr. Pinto to continue working with individuals and communities to “go upstream” of the negative social and economic policies that impair health, co-design solutions, and rigorously evaluate them.

The position, a “CIHR Applied Public Health Chair in upstream action at the individual-, organizational- and policy-level to improve health and reduce inequities” stems from Dr. Pinto’s work as director of the Upstream Lab.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the dramatic impact that social factors can have on the health of individuals and communities,” explains Dr. Pinto, who is also a Dalla Lana School of Public Health faculty member and Associate Director for Clinical Research for the University of Toronto Practice-Based Research Network (UTOPIAN). “At the Upstream Lab we are working to tackle these social factors and improve health outcomes through research, education and policy change. This Chair position will help sustain our core functions for the next six years, allowing us to develop as a resource nationally and internationally.”

The funding will support four key research areas, including bringing together the latest evidence on the most effective upstream interventions and supporting scale-up and studying how health organizations implement upstream action to improve population health.

It will also complement Dr. Pinto’s role as artificial intelligence lead with EXITE (EXploring Innovative TEchnologies in Family Medicine), a DFCM innovation collaborative that is working to adapt, apply and develop innovative technologies for use in primary care delivery and education.

“As we study existing upstream actions, identify gaps and develop new solutions, big data and artificial intelligence can help us identify patterns and support proactive care. At the same time, we must identify and address negative consequences for individuals communities made vulnerable by social and economic policies.”

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