health advocacy in the pandemic era

Conference on Health Advocacy Toronto 2021


CHAT 2021 has now concluded. Thank you for joining us!

Thank you for making the conference a tremendous success. Congratulations to all of our speakers, student presenters, attendees and award winners!


#CHAToronto #CreatingConversations


The Conference on Health Advocacy Toronto (CHAT) is an annual event that showcases diverse advocacy initiatives that seek to improve the health and health care of Canadians. Established by medical students at the University of Toronto in 2019, the conference aims to promote greater collaboration and dissemination of Canadian health advocacy work among medical students, physicians and allied health professionals. Our leadership team is supported by an advisory board of physician advocates.

CHAT facilitates conversations on pressing issues in public policy, health services, public health, social and medical ethics

Physicians and allied health professionals are the front line of our healthcare system and deliver high quality care to patients every day. They are well-positioned to understand the needs of their patients and the complexities of the health care system, allowing them to identify gaps and champion innovative solutions. In fact, advocacy is one of the core pillars of physician education and competency. Health professionals advocate for their patients regularly, and strive to seek improvements to the health system and improve the social determinants of health for the most vulnerable.

A wealth of expertise and experiences in health advocacy is under-utilized due to our tendency to operate in local silos. There is an opportunity to foster collaboration, promote collective learning and share our experiences to grow as advocates. Further, there is no official forum to communicate this work in the medical community. CHAT is a new forum for Canadian health advocacy, fostering collaborations and creating conversations.

CHAT 2021 | Creating Conversations: Advocacy for Canadian health

CHAT 2021

2021 Keynote

Dr. Isaac Bogoch


The CHAT 2021 Keynote will be delivered by Dr. Isaac Bogoch who is an infectious diseases physician, scientist, educator at the University of Toronto and Toronto General Hospital. He is a member of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and has been one of the leading physician voices and trusted sources of information related to COVID-19 pandemic on mainstream media.

Dr. Bogoch completed medical school and internal medicine training at the University of Toronto. He then pursued an infectious diseases fellowship through the Harvard Partners program, and an HIV fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He holds a Masters degree in clinical epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the Gorgas Memorial Institute and the Instituto de Medicina Tropical in Lima, Peru.

2021 Panelist

Dr. Menaka Pai


Dr. Menaka Pai is an Associate Professor of Medicine at McMaster University, and a hematologist and thrombosis medicine physician at Hamilton Health Sciences. She is Head of Service for Benign Hematology at Hamilton Health Sciences, and Quality Lead for Transfusion Medicine in the Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program.

Dr. Pai completed her medical training at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. She holds a Masters degree in Health Research Methodology from McMaster University, and her graduate work was supported by fellowships from Thrombosis Canada and the Canadian Hemophilia Society.

Dr. Pai is a member of the McMaster Centre for Transfusion Research (MCTR) and the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TAARI). She is currently Chair of the American Society of Hematology’s Guideline Oversight Subcommittee.

2021 Panelist

Dr. Dominik Nowak


Dr. Nowak is a practicing family physician and a faculty member in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. He trained at McMaster University, where he specialized in family medicine and served as chief resident. He also finished a Master of Health Administration at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation out of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Whether at his family practice, in advocacy for healthy policy, or as a health leader, Dr. Nowak’s professional mission is to promote health in the communities he serves.

In 2020, Dr. Nowak joined the TELUS Medical Advisory Council as Chair. In this capacity, he drives collaboration across a cross-functional team of experts to mount a science-based and compassionate response to emerging health issues. He is a trusted advisor to senior leaders across TELUS and other Canadian organizations in health and safety, business continuity, emergency operations, healthcare, digital health, ventures, and corporate citizenship. Through COVID-19, the shared purpose of the Medical Advisory Council is to promote the health of 60,000 team members globally, role model proactive workplace policy, and uphold thoughtful social impact.

2021 Panelist

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina


Dr. Katelyn Jetelina is an epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health, where her research lab resides and where she teaches.


In addition, Dr. Jetelina is the founder and sole author of Your Local Epidemiologist, a viral newsletter that “translates” scientific research and events (like the COVID19 pandemic) to the community. Her newsletter has reached over 90 million people in the past 18 months and is actively translated into 6 different languages.


2021 Program


CHAT took place on October 16, 2021 this year.

We hosted an exciting lineup of keynote and panelist speakers who addressed the audience on the theme of “Health Advocacy in the Pandemic Era” and provided tips and tricks on tackling misinformation and disinformation.

9:30 am         Conference Welcome & Introduction


10:00 am       Interactive Panel: Tackling Mis- & Dis-information in 2021


11:00 am       Judged Research and Initiative Presentations

12:00 pm       Keynote Address


12:30 pm       Awards and Conclusion

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CHAT 2021 accepted abstracts for advocacy initiatives or research projects. Topics ranged from health policy, education, technology and innovation, social justice and health equity, ethics, and more. There were over $500 in awards won! Best of all registration was FREE of charge!


The Team

Former Contributors

2020 Faculty Advisory Board: Dr. Abi Sriharan, Dr. Philip Berger, and Dr. Jennifer Hulme

2020 Co-Chairs and Co-Founders: Hilary Pang and David Wiercigroch

2020 Partnerships Co-Directors: Sabrina Yeung and Aarushi Bansal

2020 Logistics Director: Kyra Moura

2020 Events Director: Mona Khalid

2020 Communications Director: Monica Shah

2020 Research Director: Emmanuel Igbokwe


Anser Daud
Co-Chair & Events Director

Isra Hussein
Co-Chair & Communications Director

Harris Sheikh
Research Director

Morgan Garland
Logistics Director

Peter Chengming Zhang
Partnerships Director



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