Looking Upstream for Solutions to Health System Challenges

April 20, 2023
By Elaine Smith

Dr. Andrew Pinto, an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, wears many hats: family physician, public health specialist and scientist. He also holds an Applied Public Health Chair from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is the only family physician among the seven researchers nationwide who received this honour.

The award, worth $1.15 million, provides mid-career researchers with an opportunity to collaborate with policy makers to support evidence-informed decision-making that improves health and health equity. Dr. Pinto attributes the recognition to the work being done by his Upstream Lab based at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael’s Hospital, one of the University of Toronto teaching hospital partners.

He created the lab in 2016 as a way to make medicine more effective by looking upstream to the social determinants of health and the interventions that could create change at an individual, organizational or policy level.

“My selection speaks to the fact that the Upstream Lab is recognized in Canada and elsewhere for showing leadership in a challenging area,” he says of the five-year Applied Public Health Chair. “I see the lab as a resource for the community to use to create change and innovative solutions. We have a social justice focus and we seek to both describe and solve problems.

“It’s something I can’t do by myself, but I have a fantastic team of 26 staff and a dozen graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. We’re also starting to be the home for other research scientists,” says Dr. Pinto.


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This story is part of the 2023 DFCM Family Medicine Report.

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