Message to members from Dr. Lori Brotto: A history of the WHRI

Message to members from Dr. Lori Brotto: A history of the WHRI


The Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) was proudly established by BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre in March 2005 after the Ministry of Health announced it would provide $2M in funding to create an Institute designed specifically to address the growing need for in-depth research into women’s health. The Provincial Health Services Authority contributed an initial $400,000 to the development of the WHRI, and continues to financially support the institute today. The WHRI was fully launched in October 2006 and established initially as a not-for-profit society reporting to a volunteer board (inaugural board chair Dr. John Gilbert followed by Eileen Stewart) with Dr. Deborah Money selected as the Institute’s first Executive Director. The Institute became the first of its kind in Canada devoted solely to improving the health and health care of girls and women throughout the province of BC, to serve as a catalyst for research in women’s health and to support an expanding national network of women’s health researchers, policy makers and healthcare providers. Under the unfaltering and tireless leadership of Dr. Deborah Money, the WHRI became a Canadian leader in sex- and gender-specific research in women’s health. Membership in the institute grew quickly, as there was much interest among existingwomen’s health researchers to form a collaborative. Success was clearly evident in the number of peer-reviewed grants obtained by members (measured in the millions in the first few years of the WHRI). Furthermore, WHRI seed grants provided to members consistently leveraged much larger federal grants such that our return-on-investment was in the thousands. The WHRI was, and continues to be, reactive to the women’s health needs identified by government, industry, international partnerships, and the community. To support the expanding staff, WHRI offices also expanded from a single room to an entire wing in the 3rd floor Shaughnessy Building at BC Women’s Hospital, with additional space across the Oak Street Campus. It was evident that the institute was growing in numbers, momentum, support, and strategic vision. From its inception, Dr. Money and the WHRI wanted to cross all pillars of science in women’s health research, and see research through from knowledge creation to knowledge usage.

The original mission of the WHRI, “to generate new knowledge and evidence-based solutions that inform and transform the health and heathcare of all women” continues to drive our collective work today at our 10 year anniversary. In its inaugural annual report, the WHRI promised to “pilot a new future for women’s health research and open up new possibilities for women’s lives”. As we reflect now, 10 years later, we are proud of the dedication shown by Dr. Money, the WHRI staff, and members across the province, and we are excited to catalyze the achievements of this past decade into solidifying the WHRI as a truly province-wide network of women’s health researchers united with a single mission to improve the lives, health, and well-being of women, girls, and newborns.


Welcome Angeli Rawat

arawat-picture-1We are excited to welcome Angeli as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with WHRI. For almost 15 years, Angeli has been working to strengthen health systems in low and middle income countries. She has worked in the areas of cancer care and control, HIV and maternal and child health from Sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia to Latin America.

In 2015, she completed her PhD at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health with a Global Health specialization. During her doctoral research, she conducted a health system analysis to understand the impact of integrating antiretroviral therapy and related HIV services into public sector primary care clinics in Free State, South Africa. Her research was able to identify best practices and areas where the health system that may have been strengthened and/or compromised due to the provision of integrated primary health care.

Since graduation, she has been working as a researcher with UNICEF’s Knowledge Management Implementation Research (KMIR) Unit in New York. She has been documenting the lessons learned for building resilience in community based health systems in 4 countries that experienced “shocks” such as the Ebola Virus Disease (Sierra Leone, Liberia) and natural disasters (Nepal and Ethiopia). Focusing on maternal, newborn and child health service provision, this research aims to provide guidance for building resilience at community levels to handle any situation. She will be presenting the findings in a panel discussion at the Fourth Symposium on Health Systems Research on the 18th of November in Vancouver.

As a lead up to the Symposium, Angeli will also be a facilitator to help train 55 emerging global health system researchers and change makers from low and middle income countries through the Emerging Voices 4 Global Health (EV4GH) program. As an alumna of the program she found the interaction with fellow trainees supported by great mentorship to be invaluable and is excited to be contributing to the program. On Nov 12-13 ,2016 EV4GH will be partnering with the Global Health Students and Young Professional Summit (GHSYPS) from Canada for a public pre-conference event. From interactive workshops, panels, skill-building sessions and networking opportunities, any students or young professionals interested in global health are encouraged to attend. For more information and to register for this event, visit www.ghsummit.comarawat-picture-2


Women’s Health Research Institute celebrates 10 years!

photo-2016-10-27-11-36-09-amLast Thursday, We had a special gathering in the SHY auditorium to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of WHRI. The institute has come a long way, and as part of the celebration we learned about all the amazing work in women’s health research.
WHRI is one of only two research entities in Canada that focus solely on women’s health. The institute has provided the opportunity for many to delve into research for the first time including Dr. Wendy Norman and Dr. Denise Pugash, whom have since made vast contributions in their research areas.
Some notable research that has come out of WHRI include:
  • Canadian Contraception Access Research Team (CART), which aims to ensure equal access to family planning by providing access to free contraception to high risk populations;
  • Safe Methods at the Right Time (SMART), a program that came out of the work of CART that provides free contraception to women at the time of abortion to decrease incidences of abortion; the role of gene mutation in endometriosis;
  • Wel-Tel Oak Tree project, a pilot program that utilizes text messaging to connect with patients for more engaged care.

WHRI executive director Dr. Lori Brotto announced it was fitting that the

Former WHRI Director Dr. Deborah Money with Present WHRI Director Dr. Lori Brotto

anniversary fell on Women’s History Month with its theme ‘because of her,’ which she used to pay tribute to former WHRI executive director Dr. Deborah Money. It was a wonderful event celebrating WHRI past, present and future and we can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring!

Welcome Aman Kahlon! Our New WHRI Executive Assistant

It with aman-photogreat pleasure, I would like to let you all know that Aman Kahlon is the new Executive Assistant for the WHRI!  Aman is well known to all of you as she was previously the Administrative Assistant with WHRI for the past 2 years.  I have been extremely impressed by Aman’s efficiency, her skills at problem-solving, her enthusiasm, warmth, and dedication to the team. She has also been shouldering some of the extra workload with regards to financial management that I am grateful for.  Importantly, Aman is also a baker!

Welcome Aman! We look forward to doing great things for women’s health research with you on the team!


Dr. Lori Brotto

WHRI Executive Director