Shift Health and Life Sciences Ontario Announce the Launch of Building an Inclusive Life Sciences Future
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Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) and Shift Health announced the launch of Building an Inclusive Life Sciences Future, a series of community-driven engagements and workshops aimed at mobilizing the life sciences community around a powerful vision and action plan for inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA).
Led by a Steering Committee with diverse representation across the life sciences ecosystem, including IDEA thought leaders, individuals with lived experience, individuals from marginalized communities, trainees and early-career professionals (see list of members below), Building an Inclusive Life Sciences Future is planning its first stakeholder workshop in the fall of 2021.
“Stakeholders across the life sciences sector have publicly committed to embedding IDEA within their organizations. While progress is being made, initiatives are often fragmented, limited in scope and inconsistently applied across the sector,” says Dr. Jason Field, President and CEO of LSO. “There is a need for coordinated, sector-wide, action-oriented strategies and approaches critical to embedding IDEA within organizational practices, cultures, and research and innovation systems. A commitment to embedding IDEA within the ecosystem today will enable a stronger and more competitive Ontario in the future.”
Building an Inclusive Life Sciences Future will engage stakeholders across the life sciences ecosystem to co-create a vision and action plan for IDEA that is ambitious and accountable. The initiative will bring together policymakers, postsecondary administration, academic researchers, government, industry and not-for-profit organizations with representation from individuals at different career stages, with different lived experiences and across life sciences domains. Details on opportunities to engage will be announced in the coming months.
“The innovations, technologies and solutions that the life sciences sector is creating today will determine how we manage our health, how we grow our food and how we care for the health of our planet in the future. The implications are existential,” says Dr. Ryan Wiley, President of Shift Health. “The life sciences sector, perhaps more than any other, can say what is good for humanity is good for our sector. It is therefore both a responsibility and an opportunity for the life sciences community to ensure that the fullness of humanity has a seat at the table—bringing the ideas, knowledge, perspectives and aspirations that will guide us into our future.”
“We really need to critically examine the systemic barriers that keep many people out of the sciences not just at the university level but as far back as kindergarten—it starts that early when we talk about disparities in the education system,” says Dr. Eugenia Addy, Steering Committee member and CEO of Visions of Science. “The success of this initiative will depend on engagement, authentic representation and being able to have really difficult and poignant conversations around what sacrifices actually need to be made and what barriers need to be dismantled in order for real change to happen within the sector.”
Co-sponsored by LSO and Shift Health, Building an Inclusive Life Sciences Future has also received generous support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The Steering Committee
- Dr. Imogen Coe, Professor and Founding Dean (Faculty of Science), Ryerson University
- Shiva Darvishi, COO, Micellae Delivery Systems
- Wanda Deschamps, Founder and Principal, Liberty Co
- Dr. Eugenia Addy, CEO, Visions of Science
- Rob Henderson, CEO, BioTalent Canada
- Heather Lau, Student Lead, Biochemistry Wellness, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (WIDE), University of Toronto
- Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, Vice Provost Indigenous Engagement, University of Saskatchewan
- Dr. Brett Shannon, Medical Scientist (HIV), Gilead Sciences
- Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, Director of Research and Chief Inclusion and Accessibility Officer, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
For more information about the initiative, please see: https://lifesciencesontario.ca/idea-workshop/