Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin is a clinical professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s School of Population and Public Health. She is also the inaugural director of UBC’s Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education, which was formed in 2006 to facilitate opportunities to enhance the well-being of individuals in custody and reintegration into their communities. Her past roles include chair of the CFPC’s Prison Health Program Committee and co-director of the British Columbia Primary Care Research Network, and she led the research faculty of UBC’s Department of Family Practice’s postgraduate program for 13 years.
Dr. Martin practised family medicine in Vancouver for 26 years and worked part-time in prison medical clinics for 16 years. In 2005 she began a master of public health degree and started conducting participatory health research in a women’s prison, which became the focus of her thesis and shaped her subsequent life’s work. Her prison health advocacy efforts have included supporting the well-being of incarcerated women and their infant children, calling for limits to solitary confinement, and improving health care delivery for prison populations. In 2015 she was recognized with a Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case.
Fostering education and dialogue about the systemic health and social disparities faced by those affected by the criminal justice system is one of Dr. Martin’s passions. Another is participatory health research, which invites those who are normally the subjects to become co-researchers and contribute their expertise, wisdom, and life experiences to the process.