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A first in Canada

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Research chair in aboriginal, rural health established at Northern Ontario School of Medicine

SUDBURY, Ontario - The Northern Ontario School of Medicine announced May 27 that the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Ontario government have each invested $1.5 million to establish a research chair in aboriginal and rural health at the school.

The first of its kind in Canada, the research chair is intended to conduct leading-edge research into health issues of particular relevance to aboriginal and rural communities of northern Ontario. Cardiovascular disease, for instance, is a prevalent health issue for northern Ontarians. In addition, research has shown that people from First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes, and are at a greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population.

Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM founding dean, commended the HSFO and Ontario government for helping to facilitate research in areas of medicine that are important for northern Ontario communities.

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''The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is extremely grateful to receive $3 million from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Ontario government. The establishment of a research chair in aboriginal and rural health is another step toward fulfilling the school's commitment to contribute to improving the health of the communities and people of northern Ontario.''

The HSFO also funds the HSFO Summer Medical Student Awards for NOSM, which began in 2006. The program is a five-year commitment valued at nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Student research projects provide medical students with the opportunity to gain cardiovascular research training while working with an established researcher at NOSM.

NOSM is a pioneering faculty of medicine. The school is a joint initiative of Lakehead and Laurentian universities with main campuses in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, and multiple teaching and research sites across northern Ontario. By educating skilled physicians and undertaking health research suited to community needs, the school hopes to become a cornerstone of community health care in northern Ontario.