The two winners of the Canadian Skin of Colour & Diversity Scholarship will receive funds to implement their ideas on addressing care gaps among underrepresented Canadians.
KIRKLAND, QC, OCTOBER 23, 2023 – Pfizer Canada and the Skin Spectrum Summit are pleased to announce the winners of the new Canadian Skin of Colour & Diversity Scholarship program, which aims to improve dermatological care for underrepresented populations, including those with deeper skin tones, Indigenous Peoples, and other racialized individuals.
Dermatology residents, Dr. Nickoo Merati, from McGill University, and Dr. Muskaan Sachdeva, from the University of Toronto, have been selected as this year’s scholarship winners by an independent committee of dermatologists from across Canada. The two winning residents will each receive $20,000 to fund their innovative projects to help support advances in dermatologic care in Canada.
“It is heartening to see the impressive applications we received for this scholarship program. This speaks to the high caliber of resident dermatologists in this country, as well as their commitment and desire to enact positive change,” said Dr. Marissa Joseph, chair of the steering committee for the Canadian Skin of Colour & Diversity Scholarship. “Currently there is a disparity in the diagnosis, understanding and treatment of certain skin conditions in Canada. With this new scholarship, the first of its kind in this country, we hope to begin to address these care gaps.”
Dr. Merati’s project seeks to address the lack of research on atopic dermatitis, or eczema, within Indigenous communities. Dr. Merati says her project was inspired by work she did with Cree youth in northern Quebec and Indigenous communities in rural Saskatchewan, where she personally witnessed how a lack of access to care can cause eczema to progress into a debilitating disease.
“We need to better understand the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples with atopic dermatitis,” said Dr. Merati. “With this funding from Pfizer Canada and the Skin Spectrum Summit, we hope to work with Indigenous communities to help inform health policy and improve atopic dermatitis management and care for Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad.”
Dr. Sachdeva’s proposal seeks to tackle the lack of representation of skin of colour in dermatology medical education. With her funding, she will introduce an innovative ethnodermatology course into the undergraduate curriculum at the University of Toronto (UofT). Dr. Sachdeva initially delved into this area while conducting research that highlighted disparities and knowledge gaps in treating patients with skin of colour, especially in patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
"My interest in addressing the disparities in dermatological care for individuals with richly pigmented skin began when I first wrote a review as a medical student that shed light on these disparities," said Dr. Sachdeva. "This experience made me realize the crucial need for medical students to acquire a comprehensive understanding of dermatological conditions in individuals with skin of colour. I am hopeful the new ethnodermatology course will eventually find its place in medical schools across Canada, promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion."
Dr. Merati and Dr. Sachdeva will each share the outcomes of their projects at the 2024 Skin Spectrum Summit annual conference in Toronto.
“At Pfizer, we firmly believe fostering diversity leads to a more comprehensive understanding of patient needs,” said Frédéric Lavoie, Inflammation and Immunology Lead for Pfizer Canada. “This is why we are so proud to support the Canadian Skin of Colour and Diversity Scholarship. Not only does the program align perfectly with our core company values, it also provides vital resources needed to support education, amplify diverse voices, and ignite important change.”
“This scholarship is really an opportunity to provide these future leaders with the resources they need to improve dermatological care for everyone in this country,” said Mitchell Shannon, CEO and Publisher of Chronicle Companies and Conference Secretariat of Skin Spectrum Summit. “Based on the quality of the applications we received, there’s no doubt in my mind that the future of dermatology in Canada is a bright one filled with diversity, equity and inclusivity.”
Pfizer Canada and the Skin Spectrum Summit are pleased to support the Canadian Skin of Colour and Diversity Scholarship again in 2024. Details will be available in spring 2024 here: www.skinofcolourscholarship.com.
About Pfizer Canada
Pfizer Canada ULC is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc., one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical companies. Our diversified healthcare portfolio includes some of the world's best known and most prescribed medicines and vaccines. We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well-being of Canadians at every stage of life. Our commitment is reflected in everything we do, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships. To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit pfizer.ca or you can follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, X or YouTube.
About Chronicle and Skin Spectrum Summit
Established in 1995, Chronicle Companies (www.chronicle.ca) creates original multi-platform content for medical practitioners, the Life Sciences industries, and the public, directed toward improving individuals' health and quality of life. Chronicle initiated the Skin Spectrum Summit (SSS), the first Canadian Conference on Ethnodermatology. Now in its ninth year, SSS is a landmark educational congress of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing better dermatologic care for Canada's diverse population. The conference provides education on treating patients across all skin types, emphasizing research and care for underserved patients. Learn more at www.skinspectrum.ca.
For more information:
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