2018-19 Forum Fellows in Strengthening Health and Social Systems

The McMaster Health Forum is pleased to announce that Chloe Gao, Kartik Sharma and Peter Belesiotis have been selected as Forum Fellows in Strengthening Health and Social Systems for the 2018-19 academic year. The Forum Fellows Program is part of the Forum’s commitment to prepare action-oriented leaders to creatively address pressing health and social systems challenges. Each fellow will support various Forum initiatives, interact with local, provincial, and international health and social systems stakeholders, and will end their fellowships with an internship through the Queen Elizabeth Scholarships program.

This year, the Fellows plan to develop and implement a student panel—an innovative pilot project that serves as an extension of the Forum’s current citizen panel program. The Fellow-led panel will address the topic of sexual violence on campus. Furthermore, the Fellows will closely support Forum programs such as Rapid Responses, Citizen Panels, and Stakeholder Dialogues.

Chloe, Kartik, and Peter are all entering their third year of undergraduate studies at McMaster University.  Kartik is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Science, while Peter and Chloe are pursuing a Bachelor of Health Sciences. All three students have been involved in a number of university-based research projects and community initiatives that have sparked their interests in health and social systems reform and strengthening.

Chloe is in her third year in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, specializing in Child Health. Through her extensive experience working in health systems research, as a research assistant at the Forum’s Impact Lab and the Mental Health Research Department at St. Michael’s Hospital, Chloe has developed an interest in supporting evidence-informed policymaking and service user engagement in health care reform. She is particularly interested in exploring how policies and system-level interventions can improve health outcomes for children and youth facing mental health challenges. As a Fellow, Chloe looks forward to contributing to the process of integrating research evidence into health policy development, and increasing student engagement in the learning opportunities offered by the Forum. She spent the summer before her Fellowship interning at the Sax Institute as part of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship program.

Kartik is in his third year of the Bachelor of Arts & Science program. Given his academic background and previous experiences, Kartik hopes to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to the Fellowship. Kartik will be focusing his role on strengthening social systems, contributing to Forum+ efforts, and engaging students in the Forum’s activities. Through the Fellowship, he hopes to learn how strong health and social systems can complement one another and reduce disparities between populations. In particular, Kartik is interested in learning how infectious diseases can be managed by designing systems that maximize access to clean water and sanitation. He will be spending the summer before the Fellowship with the Forum’s Impact Lab and working with Dr. Michael Wilson on a project related to enhancing equitable access to assistive technologies in Canada.

Peter is in his third year of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, with plans to complete a minor in history.  Research has been a key part of Peter’s education.  He has worked in the Department of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children, where he examined the utility of next generation sequencing technologies for the diagnosis of connective tissue disorders, and at North York General Hospital, where he evaluated opioid prescribing guidelines.  He is also currently engaged in a project regarding the repatriation of complex trauma and neurosurgical patients at Hamilton General Hopital.  Peter is passionate about health systems and evidence-informed health policy, in particular the role of genetic testing in Canadian health systems, and how policymakers interact with evidence in the context of healthcare.  Peter is looking forward to engaging with the various health and social system initiatives at the Forum, and helping other undergraduate students at McMaster become active participants in the Forum’s work.

Chloe, Kartik, and Peter have diverse leadership experiences and hope to engage McMaster students in the vast number of learning opportunities offered by the Forum, including student-led events, courses, and simulation activities.

The fellowships begin in September 2018 and will culminate in a summer internship on the front lines of health and social system decision-making, working at organizations such as provincial or federal governments, or the World Health Organization.