Onyenyechukwu Nnorom
Room 136, 209 Victoria Street, venue is wheelchair accessible
  • May 2, 2017 from 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Canadian research has often ignored racial and ethnic disparities in health status. In many cases, when it is explored, the default explanation for these disparities is a genetic one. There is little evidence, however, that links differences in health status across groups to genetic factors. As a result, a focus on inherent biological differences obscures two important realities. First – race is a social construct. There is more genetic variation within racial groups than across them. Second – evidence points to structural factors as being key in determining individual, group and population health.

Panelists will explore:

– The relationship between racism and public health
– Current research unpacking assumptions related to race, ethnicity and health
– Methods to explore health disparities that give appropriate weight to structural factors


Dr. Onye Nnorom is a Family Doctor and a Public Health & Preventive Medicine specialist. She practices at TAIBU Community Health Centre, in Scarborough and is the Primary Care Lead for Cancer Care Ontario’s Central East Regional Cancer Program, providing leadership on matters of cancer prevention and care to primary care physicians in the region. She is also the Associate Program Director of the Public Health & Preventive Medicine Residency Program at the University of Toronto. She recently took on the position as the Black Health Theme Lead for the Faculty of Medicine, incorporating Black Canadian health issues into the medical school curriculum. Dr. Nnorom completed her medical degree at McGill University, and then completed a Masters of Public Health (Epidemiology) and residency training at the University of Toronto. Being of Nigerian and Trinidadian heritage, she is particularly interested in immigrant health, and Black community health and wellness. She is the Vice-President and Board Chair of the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario.

Dr. Arjumand Siddiqi is Canada Research Chair in Population Health Equity and Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, where she also holds appointments in the Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and the Hospital For Sick Children, as well as at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Siddiqi is interested in understanding how societal conditions produce and resolve inequities in population health and human development across the lifespan. Her research focuses primarily on the roles of resource inequities and social policies, the methods and metrics that enable scientific inquiry on health inequities and, mechanisms related to public and political uptake of the evidence. Dr. Siddiqi is an alumnus of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Global Academy and former Associate Member of its Program on Successful Societies. She was also a member of the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health Knowledge Hub on Early Child Development, and has consulted to several international agencies including the World Bank and UNICEF. Dr. Siddiqi received her doctorate in Social Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Philip Awadalla, PhD, is a Senior Investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Professor of Population and Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto, and is a Director and Principal Investigator of the Ontario Health Study/Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project. He is also the Director of the Genome Canada, Canadian Data Integration Centre. Dr. Awadalla was trained at the University of Edinburgh, and his team focuses on the development of next-generation genomics approaches, model-based tools and population-based approaches to study mutation rates, genome biology, and cancer. His team’s research also focuses on systems and population genomics approaches to capture signals in population-based samples or families as well as tools to capture rare or de novo variants and pathways, potentially critical to disease phenotypes. Dr. Awadalla’s main research interests include identifying genomic determinants of blood disorders and cancers; understanding mutation and recombination biology, and genomic epidemiology of age related disorders in population cohorts.


Dr. Aisha Lofters is a family physician with the St. Michael’s Hospital Academic Family Health Team and scientist at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital. She is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Family & Community Medicine and adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She currently holds a Career Development Award in Prevention from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute. Her research interests include cancer screening, immigrant health and health equity, using a broad range of methods including secondary database analysis and community-based participatory research.

Dr. Patricia O’Campo is a Professor of Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto. She is also a scientist at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital, where she holds the Chair for Intersectoral Solutions to Urban Health Problems. As a social epidemiologist Dr. O’Campo has been conducting research on health inequalities for over 25 years. Dr. O’Campo’s work often focuses on upstream determinants of health including quantifying the impacts of structural issues and social programs on population well-being.

Please RSVP here as space is limited.