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12 Aug 2013

Inside Look at Immigrant HIV Testing Wins Top Prize


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Ottawa - A critical analysis of Canada’s immigration system and the mandatory HIV testing of prospective immigrants and refugees has been awarded the 2013 CAGS/Proquest –UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award.

Laura Bisaillon earned an interdisciplinary PhD in Population Health from the University of Ottawa after ten years working in community development and social services. Her experience as a caseworker for a women's sexual health organization in Montreal’s east end provided the catalyst for her project.

“The results of this research carry a lesson for medical decision-making within the Canadian immigration program,” she says. “I hope front-line workers, policy makers and HIV-positive newcomers to Canada can benefit from this work.”

Living in Montreal and travelling regularly to Ottawa for coursework enabled Bisaillon to garner broader understandings of how different jurisdictions operate with respect to health policy. Relevancy beyond the dissertation itself was something that guided her work and practice.

“Dr. Bisaillon’s success is a testament to how workplace experience can shape an academic journey,” says CAGS President Noreen Golfman. “Her commitment to rigourous research and community collaboration is apparent throughout her work.”

Organizations including the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario, Asian Community AIDS Services, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and AIDS Community Care Montreal collaborated with Bisaillon for her project. She was supported by major research awards.

In September, Bisaillon begins a new challenge as a faculty member in the Health Studies Department of the University of Toronto

Bisaillon will receive her award in November when the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies holds its conference in Montreal.

She will be joined by Aaron Shafer, the 2013 winner in the engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences category.

The CAGS/PROQUEST-UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards began in 1994. They recognize doctoral students whose dissertations make an original contribution to their academic field. Two awards are offered each year: one in engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences; and one in fine arts, humanities and social sciences.

The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) brings together 58 Canadian universities with graduate programs and the three federal research-granting agencies, as well as other institutions and organizations having an interest in graduate studies.

For more information contact:
Gail Dugas
613.334.5658
gailadugas@gmail.com