Explore a variety of community resources that we have developed at the Upstream Lab

Speaker Series

June 15, 2023 (Thursday) | 12 – 1 pm EDT

Virchow famously said, “Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale”, but are there things we should consider when healthcare gets involved with social issues? Episode 3 of the Upstream Lab Speaker Series aims to help you understand all sides of this question. Our speakers shared their experiences in Canada and the US, discussing the context and considerations surrounding the medicalization of social determinants of health.



Dr. Arvin Garg is a Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chair of Health Equity at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School and UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Garg’s research focuses on addressing adverse social determinants of health (SDoH) within the delivery of pediatric care, particularly for low-income families, and has been cited in professional guidelines.

Dr. Kate Mulligan is the Senior Director of the Canadian Institute for Social Prescribing and Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Dr. Mulligan is a health geographer and policy professional with a critical public health orientation and a strong interest in advancing healthier and more equitable communities. Her research and policy work has been supported by Toronto Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Canada, and the United Nations.

Dr. Ritika Goel is a family physician in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto working with the St. Michael’s Hospital Academic Family Health Team. Dr. Goel has been engaged in health-related activism, medical education, public speaking and writing on issues at the intersection of health and social justice throughout her career. She has served as the Faculty Lead for Social Accountability at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Chair of the Social Accountability Working Group at the College of Family Physicians of Canada.


Dr. Andrew Pinto is the Founder & Director of the Upstream Lab, a non-profit research lab tackling issues related to social determinants of health. He is a Public Health and Preventive Medicine specialist and family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Pinto is a Scientist at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, appointed to the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and with status appointments at Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Institute for Health, Policy, Management and Evaluation.


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April 27, 2023 (Thursday) | 12 -1 pm EDT | Online

For the second episode of the Upstream Lab Speaker Series, we invited professors, who are also physicians, to share their experiences teaching the social determinants of health in Canada, the USA, and Scotland.

Tune in to learn

  • Why is teaching about social determinants so important for future physicians and others?
  • What have been some of the challenges?
  • What has seemed to really work – at least for certain students – that inspires them to think in a different way?
  • How is medical education linked to changing the health system to be more oriented upstream?


Dr. Ashti Doobay-Persaud is an internal medicine specialist in Chicago, IL and has over 16 years of experience in the medical field. She has taught cases for medical students as part of the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University. Dr. Doobay-Persaud is also the Co-Director of the Robert J. Havey, MD Institute for Global Health and an Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Education at Northwestern University.

Dr. David Blane is the Academic Lead for the Deep End GP project in Scotland, a collaboration between academics and frontline GPs working in areas of concentrated socio-economic disadvantage. Within the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, he is the Co-Lead for the Determinants of Health and Health Inequalities theme. Since 2010, he has been involved in the Deep End project, which represents GPs working in the most socio-economically deprived practices in Scotland.


Dr. Andrew Pinto is the Founder & Director of the Upstream Lab, a non-profit research lab in Canada tackling issues related to social determinants of health. He is a Public Health and Preventive Medicine specialist and family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and a Scientist at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions. Dr. Pinto is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.


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The first episode of our Speaker Series features an insightful conversation between a community advisor and a family physician, delving into stories and realities of engaging with people experiencing homelessness.

Alexander Zsager is a researcher, consultant and advisor for over 20 years with organizations such as the Mental Health Commission of Canada, St. Michael’s Hospital, Dixon Hall, Toronto Metropolitan University, Ontario Health Team, Homeless Connect Toronto and many others. “As a person with lived experience, I am also passionate about the issue of housing and homelessness… Collaborating with the Upstream Lab has given me valuable learning opportunity in research.” — Alexander

Dr. Mathieu Isabel is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Pinto at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He is also a practicing family physician and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Family and Emergency Medicine. He is part of a community clinic delivering care to people experiencing homelessness.

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The Future is Now: Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Family Medicine

In collaboration with The College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Upstream Lab hosted a six-part monthly webinar series from December 2020 – June 2021 featuring family medicine leaders in Canada who shared their expertise in machine learning, natural language processing (teaching computers to understand human language), ethics, and AI research.

One Mainpro+® credit per session was offered to physicians who attended the live webinar.

Watch the videos below:







In May 2021, the Upstream Lab hosted a webinar featuring Canadian leaders of new models that integrate health and social care.

Check out the recorded video to learn about what makes these interventions successful, the existing challenges, and ways to find the right model for different contexts.


  • Dr. Simone Dahrouge – ARC Patient Navigator
  • Dr. Lisa Dolovich – Health TAPESTRY
  • Dr. Jennifer Rayner – Social Prescribing
  • Dr. Gina Agarwal – Paramedic led interventions Laura Boodram – Income Security HP Nancy Snow
  • Cheryl Jeffers-Johnson – Community Health Team Navigator Program
  • Jay Bodner – Manitoba MyHealth 

This event was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


COVID-19 Resources

During pandemics, historically marginalized and minoritized individuals suffer disproportionately. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Upstream Lab, the Centre for Effective Practice and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto developed the Online Social Care Guidance.

You can also download the pdf here: Social Care Guidance

This guide is for health and social care providers supporting people exposed to social risks that impact health, caused or exacerbated by COVID-19. It is intended as guidance and should not replace clinical judgement.

The Upstream Lab compiled lists of social resources covering food supports, housing, legal advice, social isolation and support around domestic violence in the following Canadian provinces and territories  (updated May 25, 2020).

Click on the province/territory name below to access the list of COVID social resources:

Artificial Intelligence & Health Care

Health AI Resources

Our lab has created a platform for learning about health data science and artificial intelligence (AI). The platform offers the following information:

  • Basic overview of Health Data Sciences and AI
  • Resources to develop skills around AI
  • Repository of publicly available health data
  • Relevant working networks focusing on AI
  • Key readings around Health and AI

Visit our platform here.


The DEEP Network

AI is rapidly emerging as a technology that will impact numerous sectors. Within primary care, the future of AI is where the power, and opportunities may be realized in the broadest and most ambitious scale. It has the potential to improve care, lower costs, and reduce physician burnout. However, in order for this field to advance in a meaningful way, we need to have interdisciplinary teams inclusive of patients, providers, researchers, and system leaders to join in a collaborative effort to create positive impact toward health-related AI initiatives.

The big Data to Enhance and Evolve Primary care (DEEP Network) brings together patients, health providers, system leaders and academics across Canada to help set the direction of AI in primary care, and to catalyze patient-oriented research in this area.

Join us, as we host regular opportunities to share work in progress on AI integration in primary care, spark new ideas and collaborations, and work toward setting priorities for research in this rapidly evolving field.



    EXITE Summer Series 2021

    The EXITE Summer Series responds to the COVID-19 pandemic experience via a series of exploratory questions: What are the highlighted issues? How have they and the pandemic influenced the primary care we currently provide and seek to provide in the future? How have the issues exposed impacts on social and economic policy? How might we collaborate to positively influence our future in partnership with patients and the public?

    • Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya; Panelists: Dr. Carolyn Steele Gray, Dr. Payal Agarwal, Dr. Sakina Walji
    • Dr. Noah Crampton; Panelists:Dr. Alison Paprica, Dr. Karim Keshavjee & Ms. Christine Sham
    • Dr. Sheryl Spithoff; Panelists:Ms. Rosario Cartagena, Dr. Azza Eissa & Dr. Christopher Parsons
    • Dr. Andrew Pinto; Panelists: Dr. Quynh Pham, Dr. Amol Verma & Ms. Samira Adus