SSHRC and Genome Canada support cross-sectoral research

Dynamics of privilege and marginalization and issues related to genomics are the subjects of three grants awarded to McGill researchers through the Knowledge Synthesis Grants program

On Friday, June 16, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Genome Canada awarded more than $890,000 in funding to 30 projects across Canada under the Knowledge Synthesis Grants program, including two to McGill. McGill is also a co-lead on a project awarded to Dawson College.

With the goals of producing reports and briefs to inform Canadian policy and to identify knowledge gaps, researchers supported by Knowledge Synthesis Grants (KSG) undertake comprehensive literature reviews. In this round, McGill’s funded projects are focused on issues faced by asylum seekers and the need for diversified genomic databases.

Yann Joly, a James McGill Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill, received a KSG valued at $30,000 through Genome Canada. Joly, with Master of Science student Hanshi Liu, aims to conduct a systematic literature review that will explore the opportunities and potential misuse of genetic ancestry data in biomedical research. Since this data can contribute to precision medicine and understanding disease risks, the current lack of diversity in reference genome databases creates inequalities in accessing these benefits for non-European populations. Yet, paradoxically, the use of genetic ancestry to infer race and ethnicity can oversimplify health risk assessments and reinforce racial stereotypes. Joly and Liu’s research will allow for the identification of ethical issues, evidence, and identify published guidance models that will help improve policies and practices associated with genetic ancestry in precision medicine.

Educational and Counselling Psychology Professor Shanna Williams and co-investigator Professor Tina Montreuil are the recipient of a $29,426 SSHRC KSG grant to examine the questioning practices used with asylum-seeking children in immigration hearings and preparatory interviews. Many of the children claiming asylum have endured traumatic events such as violence, abuse, and family separation. With the goal of creating a comprehensive set of best practices to support them throughout the claimant process, including in testimonial and interview contexts, Williams will examine research findings from disciplines including forensic child psychology and refugee studies. The expected report holds significant value for informing policies related to the treatment of child asylum seekers in Canada. As their testimonies can determine their fate in Canada, providing these children with the necessary support to accurately recount their experiences is critical.

Assistant Professor Sally Bailes, of the Department of Psychology, is a co-applicant of a $30,000 SSHRC grant for a Dawson College led project titled, Marginalization, Privilege, and Intersectionality in Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities: AI-Based Assistive Technology. Other co-applicants and collaborators of the project includes the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Ouest-de-l'île-de-Montréal, Concordia University, and the Adaptech Research Network.

Complete lists of awards recipients


Back to top