Gina Agarwal, a physician renowned as a leader in building systems of primary care for vulnerable people, has been recognized as the inaugural McMaster Family Medicine Levitt Scholar.
The new five-year position provides $1 million in funding to a full-time faculty member of the McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine who demonstrates tenacity, courage and success in creating and sustaining innovations in primary care with an impact locally to globally.
The award is named in honour of Cheryl Levitt, a professor of family medicine who was chair of the department from 1996 to 2006 and held several leadership roles in primary care for the Province of Ontario from 2000 to 2015.
“Throughout her career, Cheryl has been unafraid of making waves in primary care and everywhere it touches,” said Agarwal. “I am honoured to be recognized as helping carry forward a vision of primary care that strives to be better.”
Agarwal, a practicing family physician with a PhD, leads a series of practice-changing research through the VIP Research Lab. Her community paramedicine program is recognized as the foundation for the ‘wellness clinics’ offered by paramedics in many Ontario municipalities. She has led community health research with partners across the world, including the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
“This new support for my work is going to help us push for greater and more equitable access to primary care for vulnerable people and make better connections between primary care and the other services these people rely on,” says Agarwal.
Levitt approved the choice of Agarwal as the first winner of the award.
“I was chair at the department of family medicine when Gina came to join us from the U.K.,” said Levitt. “It was clear to those of us who hired her, that Gina’s impressive research acumen and care for her patients was going to have a huge impact on primary care locally and well beyond Hamilton.”
David Price, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine who initiated the new award, said Agarwal is making a difference.
“Gina is leading globally significant research, but her impact goes beyond that,” he said. “She mentors new researchers to approach their work with the same focus, rigor and most importantly, deep care about the people who the work will benefit.”