What is your academic background and why is your current area of research important?
Prior to joining the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, I was a practicing pharmacist in BC where I worked in both acute and primary care clinical settings. As a Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences student, I will be exploring facilitators, barriers, and opportunities to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication access and use among urban Indigenous Peoples in the Greater Toronto Area. PrEP is a medication folks can take to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from sex or injection drug use. This area of research is important because despite an increase in the uptake of PrEP awareness and use over the last decade, the proportion of new HIV infections in people who inject drugs, among Indigenous Peoples, and women has increased. And while this does not consider the intersections between groups, Indigenous Peoples continue to be overrepresented in new HIV infections.
What led you to your current Supervisor’s research group?
Dr. Swidrovich’s clinical background is in inpatient HIV and he just completed his PhD in education using Indigenous methodologies. Dr. Swidrovich is the only self-identified Indigenous pharmacy professor in Canada and so I wanted to learn from him as I will be using Indigenous theorizing incorporated analysis for my research, I wanted to ensure my research is Indigenous led, and his clinical experience within the realm of HIV is relevant to my research too.
What are some of the challenges you had to overcome while pursuing your research?
I’ve only recently started my degree but to date, I’ve seen improvement in my ability to write grants and have come to appreciate the importance of “nothing about us without us,” which stresses the importance of involvement from the community you hope to conduct research on.
How do you see your current research playing a role in your career?
Reflecting on my career to date, health equity and activism have been undertones that have contoured the work I commit to. This is something I hope to continue harnessing throughout grad school and my subsequent career after grad school. Through my past work experience, I’ve learned that scholarship and research can drive change and activism can influence academic work. What I hope to achieve through my research, and subsequently my career, is to use health equity research as a form of activism to address inequities, biases and harms in present-day healthcare.
What do you like to do when you are not working on research?
Snowboarding, travelling, beach days, and hiking.
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New study led by Assistant Professor Bowen Li makes significant contribution to generating tissue-specific ionizable lipids and prompts rethinking of mRNA vaccine design principles.Read More
Evan Amalfitano is working to develop low-cost biological assays to help make testing for certain diseases cheaper and more widely available.Read More
Assistant Professor Jaris Swidrovich will explore barriers to accessing HIV prevention drug and how health care providers can provide better care to Indigenous Peoples.Read More