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Women’s Xchange event focuses on doing research with the hard to reach

June  1, 2015

Recently, Women’s Xchange hosted its fourth event aimed at building capacity among academic, community and student women’s health researchers. The sold-out event, titled Women’s Health Research: Reaching the Hard to Reach, brought together researchers from across the province to learn more about how to do inclusive research and to share their work and ideas with one another.

“The goal of our events is to create and support a network of women’s health researchers working towards advancing the health of women across Ontario,” said Dr. Paula Rochon, vice-president of research at Women’s College Hospital and lead at Women’s Xchange. “We were delighted to see so many people attend this time and be so keenly engaged with the presenters and each other.”

The event featured a dynamic panel discussion that was moderated by gender-based violence expert Farrah Khan. The panel included Dr. Meb Rashid, clinical director of Women's College Hospital’s Crossroads Clinic; Esther Ignagni, PhD, assistant professor at Ryerson University; Loralee Gillis, coordinator of research and policy at Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO); and Magda Smolewski, PhD, research director at the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.

“To effectively share and apply research findings to real programs that benefit people in the community, it’s essential that researchers engage communities in the process,” said Robin Mason, scientific lead of Women’s Xchange and a scientist at Women’s College Research Institute. “Our panelists did an incredible job of speaking to that importance and providing concrete tips on how to meaningfully include refugees, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people and Indigenous people in research.”

Following the panel discussion, graduate students from across Ontario gave outstanding two-minute oral presentations or displayed poster presentations about their research on women’s health. They presented on a range of topics, including violence against women, breast cancer, mental health, and sexual and reproductive health. Two students received an Award of Excellence for their presentations. The awards were presented by Dr. Rochon and Nancy Kennedy, assistant deputy minister, health system strategy and policy at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The event also featured two networking sessions that gave participants the opportunity to forge new connections with mentors and that allowed teams who have received research funding from the Women’s Xchange $15K Challenge to share their research successes and lessons with one another.

“We take pride in having created a hub for women’s health researchers to come together twice a year not only to learn from the incredible speakers we invite to each event, but also to meet with one another and exchange ideas,” said Dr. Rochon. “Fostering this collaborative spirit will ensure that we work together to make the best possible advances to the health of women.”

Videos of the event have been posted on the Women’s Xchange YouTube channel

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