The Rick Hansen Institute has partnered with the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health and Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation to fund two post-doctoral fellows, Drs. Sandra Juutilainen and Melanie Jeffrey for their project “Indigenous populations and spinal cord injury: utilizing an Indigenous lens to establish meaningful data.”
Funding for this partnership is provided by the Government of Ontario.
Dr. Melanie Jeffrey
Dr. Melanie Jeffrey is a settler of British descent from the Parry Sound area. Melanie has research interests in Indigenous wellness, ecology, holistic healthcare, and neurological disorders. Melanie is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute of Indigenous Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She is on a team of researchers studying best practices to create a provincial spinal cord injury database that is relevant and meaningful to Indigenous persons and peoples. She is working with Dr. Sandra Juutilainen on a mixed-methods study funded by the Rick Hansen Institute and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation: “Indigenous populations and spinal cord injury: utilizing an Indigenous lens to establish meaningful data”. Melanie brings her experiences with Western neurological sciences, biomedicine, Indigenous wellness, and quantitative analyses to the project. Melanie earned her PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Toronto in 2014. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship funded by Epilepsy Canada in Fundamental Neurobiology studying fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 2014-2016). Melanie continues to work with the Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto to collaboratively develop curriculum and as an instructor, including “Indigenous Health Systems,” “Ethics of Indigenous Research,” and “Ecological Interactions: Intro to Indigenous and Western Sciences.”
Dr. Sandra Juutilainen
Dr. Sandra Juutilainen is a member of Oneida Nation of the Thames and also of Finnish-Canadian heritage. She is a post-doctoral fellow at Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She is working alongside Dr. Melanie Jeffrey on a mixed methods study: “Indigenous populations and spinal cord injury: utilizing an Indigenous lens to establish meaningful data.” Sandra’s focus is on the qualitative component of the study. Funding support for this study is received from the Rick Hansen Institute and Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Sandra has experience working in the area of Indigenous health with First Nations at the community, provincial and federal level in Canada, and with Sami communities in the Nordic countries. She obtained her PhD in Health Sciences in 2017 from the University of Oulu in Finland. Thereafter, she was among a cohort of post-doctoral fellows to receive an inaugural Health System Impact Fellowship award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her work was embedded at Public Health Ontario and University of Waterloo. She currently holds an adjunct assistant professor appointment at the University of Waterloo.