Fiera Capital and the MUHC Foundation announce the winners of the awards for academic excellence in health care research

Six recipients received the 2024 Fiera Capital Awards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care Research, which recognize the academic excellence of medical and health science students from racialized groups.

Montreal, June 17, 2024 — The allocation of scientific funding has not always been equitable. Historically, some groups have been underfunded or marginalized, including researchers from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. To address this critical funding gap, Fiera Capital Corporation (Fiera Capital) partnered with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) to create the Fiera Capital Awards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care Research, which launched in 2022.

The Fiera Capital Awards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care Research provide critical funding to M.Sc. and PhD students who have great potential to advance medical research based on the excellence of their academic record and who belong to a racialized group. Fiera Capital has committed $120,000 over three years to fund these important awards for talented young researchers.

“The Fiera Capital Awards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care Research reflect our firm’s commitment to investing in the communities where we operate to create a more inclusive and equitable society. Diversity in medical research is key for developing comprehensive and effective health care solutions. Research from the NIH emphasizes that diverse research teams ensure that findings are generalizable and beneficial to all segments of the population, addressing health disparities and improving patient outcomes. People may experience the same disease differently, so it's essential that clinical trials include individuals with a variety of lived experiences, characteristics and backgrounds. By supporting researchers from underrepresented backgrounds, we can foster innovations that are inclusive and impactful, ultimately enhancing the quality of health care for everyone.”

— Caroline Turcotte, Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Talent Development at Fiera Capital

Early-career funding is essential to a researcher’s future success. If scientists from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities do not receive financial support early on, it can affect the trajectories of their entire careers. The new awards aim to help address this shortfall. All six recipients of the Fiera Capital Awards who are training at the RI-MUHC also benefit from the supervision and mentorship of experts in health research.

“The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre is committed to inclusivity and empowering diverse voices in medical research. We are an internationally recognized research powerhouse, drawing exceptional scientists and trainees from across the globe. We recognize the invaluable contribution of diverse perspectives in fueling innovation in health care research. Our partnership with Fiera Capital and the MUHC Foundation marks an important step towards equitable scientific funding and ensuring that talented researchers from underrepresented communities receive the support they deserve."

—Dr. Rhian Touyz, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, RI-MUHC

The six recipients of the 2024 Fiera Capital Awards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care Research are:

Jéssica Ding, a nurse clinician and Master’s student in Advanced Nursing at McGill. She is currently exploring the use of virtual reality as a method of pain and anxiety control.

Hani Rukh-E-Qamar, a Master’s student in McGill’s Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health who is passionate about translational research across digital health, health care accessibility, and sexual and reproductive health.

Nicholas Hickens, a candidate in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University whose research interests include chronic diseases, public health ethics and empowering the well-being of marginalized populations.

Suleima Jacob-Tomas, a PhD student in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University. She has always been passionate about understanding how complex neural interactions influence an organism's behaviour, with the hope of one day contributing to interventions and healing.

Thupten Tsering, a PhD student in McGill’s Department of Pathology, is studying how cancer cells release tiny packages called extracellular vesicles. These vesicles carry DNA and proteins from cancer cells to other cells in the body and can help us better understand how cancer spreads.

Yichun Sun, a PhD student in McGill’s Division of Experimental Medicine, is looking to improve treatments and outcomes for patients suffering from rare immunodeficiencies.

“I am honoured to be a recipient of a Fiera Capital Award this year. These awards are exceptionally meaningful in the way they combine academic excellence with a greater recognition of inclusiveness and equity for underrepresented groups in health research. I’m looking forward to pursuing my work in the evaluation of a self-testing digital strategy for predicting negative and positive cases of COVID-19 infections, and grateful for the additional financial support this Fiera Capital Award will provide.”

Hani Rukh-E-Qamar, Master’s student and 2024 Fiera Capital Award recipient

The awardees were chosen by an interdisciplinary evaluation committee that focused on the candidates’ academic quality, their self-reflexivity on the systemic barriers they have faced to do research and their potential to impact other members of racialized groups.

“The MUHC Foundation is committed to doing our part to make health care research more inclusive and uplift the diverse voices of the next generation of brilliant scientists. I am thrilled to continue our partnership with Fiera Capital and support these young researchers as they realize their big dreams.”

—Marie-Hélène Laramée, President and CEO, MUHC Foundation

The MUHC Foundation’s Le Bal Rouge Gala raises a record-breaking $2,050,000 for Cancer Research at the MUHC