Faculty Members Support Award-Winning Project on Obesity and Pregnancy

May 12, 2020

Dr. D'Souza and RachelRachel Dadouch with her co-supervisor Dr. Rohan D'Souza (Assistant Professor) In April, Rachel Dadouch, a third-year PhD student at the Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), was awarded the Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships​ Doctoral Award for her project on obesity and pregnancy. The project entitled "Addressing Communication Barriers in Clinical Encounters between Health Care Providers and Pregnant People with Obesity" was co-supervised by Drs. Rohan D'Souza (Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynaecology) and Janet Parsons (Scientist, Li Ka Shing Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital). Rachel’s thesis committee members also included faculty members of our ObGyn Department - Drs. John Kingdom (Chair, Professor), Cynthia Maxwell (Associate Professor) and Rory Windrim (Professor). The project has been awarded a total of $90,000 over three years to address communication barriers between health providers and their patients.

As Dr. D'Souza describes, Rachel came across these barriers while working on her thesis project. "While interviewing plus-sized pregnant women, as part of her thesis project, Rachel quickly recognized that there were barriers to the communication of pregnancy- and health risk, related to excess weight. Determined to address these issues, which at least in part, emanate from the stigma surrounding discussions on obesity, Rachel identified ‘brokered dialogue’ between care providers and plus-sized pregnant women as a potential solution to the problem."

Rachel ranked 8th among 290 applications to the CIHR award, which was created to provide special recognition and support to students who are pursuing a doctoral degree in a health-related field in Canada.

As primary supervisor for Rachel, Dr. D'Souza is very proud of this achievement. "Rachel Dadouch is [...] the first graduate student I had the privilege of mentoring, after my appointment as assistant professor and associate member of the School of Graduate Studies. Rachel is no stranger to awards and accolades, for her commitment to the advancement of women’s health research and her leadership skills, as co-president of the students' association of the largest graduate department at the University of Toronto. Over the past two years, she has published three first-author papers and presented 12 posters at national and international conferences."

Dr. D'Souza and Rachel also continue to be a part of the Outcome Reporting in Obstetric Studies (OROS) Project, which is a consortium of individuals working to standardize the reporting and measurement of outcomes in obstetric studies, including studies on obesity in pregnancy.



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