Forum Fellows Selected for 2015-16

The McMaster Health Forum is pleased to announce that Ben Li and Matthew Hughsam have been selected as Forum Fellows for the 2015-16 academic year. The Forum Fellows program is part of our commitment to prepare action-oriented leaders in addressing pressing health challenges creatively. Each student will receive $4,000 and have the opportunity to support various Forum initiatives and interact with regional, provincial and international health system stakeholders.

Ben Li and Matthew Hughsam have both been involved in a number of university-based research projects and community initiatives that have sparked their interests in health systems reform and strengthening.

Ben is entering his third year in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, specializing in biomedical sciences. His interest in health research developed after going on several medical service trips to underserved regions of Costa Rica and Guatemala, where he witnessed the wide disparities in access to healthcare between developed and developing countries.

Hoping to address health challenges on the global stage, Ben took on a research assistantship with Forum adjunct faculty member Steven Hoffman to analyze the impact and cost-effectiveness of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty designed to combat the ever-growing threat of the global tobacco epidemic.

This summer, Ben has been awarded an NSERC undergraduate research scholarship to develop a cost-effective DNA-based biosensor for microbial pathogens in hopes of reducing the burden of food and water borne diseases in low-income countries. He hopes to pursue a career where he can use his multidisciplinary interests to develop innovative solutions for the health challenges of tomorrow.

Matthew is entering his fourth year in the global health specialization of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. He spent the last year investigating refugee access to healthcare in Canada through several projects targeting barriers at the policy, community and patient-practitioner levels. He has conducted research in diverse fields including global access to medicines, quality of cancer care and knowledge translation, and has interned with various NGOs working on global health and international development issues.

Matthew is currently working with Forum adjunct faculty member Steven Hoffman studying the effects of international law on health and the social determinants of health, and with the Forum’s Impact Lab supporting the review and management of content for Health Systems Evidence. This summer, Matthew will gain direct exposure to issues specific to low-resource settings through his work on measuring and validating results for global health innovations at Grand Challenges Canada.

Matthew is passionate about addressing barriers to access to care in marginalized and vulnerable populations. Through this fellowship, he hopes to gain critical insights into how the best possible research evidence can be leveraged to create policies addressing such barriers.

Ben and Matthew will act as the co-chairs for the student subcommittee during the duration of their fellowships. Both students have diverse leadership experiences with student-based organizations and hope to engage McMaster students in the vast number of opportunities offered by the Forum, including student-led events, courses, and simulation activities.

The fellowships begin in September 2015 and will culminate in a summer internship on the front lines of healthcare decision-making, working at an organization such as a provincial or federal government, or the World Health Organization.