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Shift Health Signs BlackNorth Initiative CEO Pledge, Committing to Ending Anti-Black Systemic Racism

Shift Health Hosts Webinar on Embedding Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) in Research-Intensive Organizations

Embedding Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility in Research-Intensive Organizations

March 8, 2021

As the world unites in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, our team is proud to pay tribute to some of the amazing women leaders who inspire us. Dr. Jacqueline Ottman, Dr. Tina Tong, Dr. Charu Kaushic and Dr. Imogen Coe #ChooseToChallenge injustice, inequality and discrimination in our research and innovation systems, institutions and practices—helping to build a future in which all of humanity can bring their full selves to a more accountable and impactful research and innovation community.

Their work has never been more urgent and essential. The pandemic has disproportionately disadvantaged the careers of women scientists, researchers and scholars, and these four women are driving change to protect and amplify the equal contributions of women to knowledge and innovation. We feel deeply privileged to work with, learn from and be led by these remarkable women.

Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann is Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) from Fishing Lake First Nation. In October 2017, Jacqueline became Professor and the inaugural Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan. Ottmann has been recognized as an international researcher, advocate and change-maker whose purpose is to transform practices inclusive of Indigenous leadership, methodologies and pedagogies. Jacqueline is driven to create schools and communities that foster a deeper sense of belonging and appreciation for Indigenous peoples—their histories, stories, ways of knowing and being. 

Jacqueline has honoured Shift Health with the most uplifting of gifts: knowledge. She has awakened our team to the beauty and power of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing; she has helped us to understand better the reciprocal work of decolonization and Indigenization that will propel our reconciliation journey; and she’s helped us to recognize our individual and collective responsibilities as inhabitants of Turtle Island. We are humbled that Jacqueline invited us into the transforming process of developing the University of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Strategy; and we are so grateful that she is at our side as we support Research Canada’s Task Force on Racial and Indigenous Justice in Health Research and Related Innovation.

Tina Tong is the Associate Director of the Vaccine Research Program at the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. Tina serves as the HIV vaccine development liaison and facilitates the commercial manufacturing of government-sponsored HIV vaccine products in support of the public health need for an HIV vaccine. Tina has established successful multi-sector partnerships and has helped promote public-private collaboration by managing the contributions of each partner across the vaccine development and clinical trials life cycle. When Operation Warpspeed commenced—the U.S.’s efforts toward a COVID-19 vaccine—Tong and fellow staff pivoted the extensive infrastructure across the National Institutes of Health to focus on the pandemic.  

Tina has dedicated her career to building successful partnerships built on the values of transparency, collaboration and servant leadership. Much of this stems from her upbringing as the daughter of a career Navy father and Filipino mother. Tina currently lives in Herndon, VA with her husband James and her two sons, Alex and Ethan. She is committed to sharing her journey in the hope that it inspires and enables women everywhere to push forward toward a more just, equal and inclusive society. 

Tina’s inclusive leadership style, command of strategic and operational dynamics and boundless passion have enabled her to play an important role in shepherding large, multi-stakeholder product development partnerships, including the Pox-Protein Public-Private Partnership for HIV vaccine development. We learned a tremendous amount from Tina during that work and have been further inspired by her success in translating years of experience in HIV vaccine development to support the global effort to develop COVID-19 vaccines.


Charu Kaushic, PhD, is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)-Institute of Infection and Immunity (III), serving in this role since July 1, 2018.  Dr. Kaushic is also a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University.  In her role as the Scientific Director for CIHR-III, Dr. Kaushic is responsible for making decisions for CIHR strategic investments in the area of infection and immunity, nationally and internationally. She also represents CIHR and Government of Canada at various national and international forums related to infectious diseases. In this capacity she serves as a Chair of GloPID-R, a global consortium of funders in pandemic preparedness and emergency response research. She also represents Canada on the JPIAMR Management Board.  Dr. Kaushic has a PhD in Immunology and did her post-doctoral training in mucosal immunology. Since her faculty appointment in McMaster in 2002, she has done extensive teaching and training in immunology and built an interdisciplinary research program in women’s reproductive health, specifically basic, clinical and translational research examining susceptibility and immune responses to sexually transmitted viruses, HIV-1 and HSV-2. Prior to joining CIHR, Dr. Kaushic’s research program was funded by CIHR, CFI, CANFAR and OHTN. She has received numerous national and international awards including a Rockefeller post-doctoral fellowship, CIHR New Investigator Award, OHTN Research Scholar award, OHTN Research Chair award and the 2017 American Journal of Reproductive Immunology Research Excellence Award. 

Charu is a decisive, resilient and principled leader. As Scientific Director of CIHR’s Institute of Infection and Immunity (III), Charu is playing a pivotal role in Canada’s research response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with other federal funders, III activated rapid funding for COVID-19 research. Charu sits on Prime Minister Trudeau’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, and she serves as the Chair of Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). We have been inspired by Charu’s courageous leadership and have been honored to support the development of the next III Strategic Plan—a Strategy that will mobilize an inclusive, collaborative and diverse research community to address infection and immunity priorities in Canada and beyond.

Dr. Imogen R. Coe was the founding dean of the Faculty of Science from 2012 to 2018 and is a professor of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is also an affiliate scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, where her research group studies drug uptake. In addition to being an academic scientist, Dr. Coe advocates for a more diverse, inclusive and accessible world of science and medicine, in the post-secondary sector and beyond. She is much in demand as a speaker and panelist, and has received numerous awards for her advocacy work. 

Imogen is a distinguished mentor, unapologetic critic and supportive teacher who is helping Shift Health embrace the centrality of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) in everything we do. We are honoured that Imogen has partnered with us as an Associate to advance IDEA with our clients and communities, and we look forward to benefitting from her wisdom and unrelenting determination as this important work continues.