The COVID CommUNITY – South Asian study is being conducted to understand the immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine and its safety in South Asians (people from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh), who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and have worse outcomes from COVID-19 infection compared to other groups.
The study also aims to understand why some people may be less confident in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, and the overall impact of COVID-19 in this community. The study will provide insight into how a pandemic of this scale can be prevented in the community and vulnerable populations.
Participants for the study are being recruited:
i. From vaccination or assessment centres in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ii. From vaccination or assessment centres in the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA). Email: email@example.com
iii. By re-contacting participants (18+) from our on-going prospective cohort studies via telephone/email. Dried blood spots for assessment of antibodies to COVID vaccination are being collected from all participants.
Sonia Anand is the overall Principal Investigator for the study, and lead for the GTA part of the study.
Scott Lear, of Simon Fraser University, is site lead for the GVA.
As well as study team members shown on this page, other investigators are:
2021 - 2024
Sonia Anand is a Professor, Medicine and Epidemiology at McMaster University; Associate Chair, Diversity and Equity in McMaster’s Department of Medicine; Director of McMaster’s Population Genomics Program; inaugural Chair, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society; and Director, Chanchlani Research Centre for Global Health at McMaster, among other roles.
Her present research focuses upon the environmental and genetic determinants of vascular disease in populations of varying ancestral origin, women and cardiovascular disease. Sonia has published more than 200 articles in peer review journals. Shas been inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Director, Statistics; Senior Scientist
Shrikant Bangdiwala, PhD, has extensive experience in the design, conduct and analysis of multi-center observational and experimental studies, having worked on clinical and community-based randomized controlled trials in congestive heart failure, cardiovascular risk factors, functional bowel disease, and obesity prevention. His statistical research interests include non-parametric methods, methodology for clinical trials, reliability and validity of diagnostic tests, and graphical methods for descriptive analyses.
A Professor in McMaster University’s Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, he is a former Fulbright senior specialist in global public health, and holds faculty positions in universities in Chile, South Africa and India.
He is a member of the USA NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) “COVID-19 Preventive mAb Data and Safety Monitoring Board” (DSMB) that will be reviewing and monitoring the US government-supported clinical trials of candidate preventive monoclonal Antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. He also chairs the Multinational DSMB for the division of AIDS at NIH, and is a member of the Gastrointestinal Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA.
Rahul Chanchlani’s research program aims to promote interdisciplinary research collaborations among peers and experts to address knowledge gaps in key renal diseases such as acute kidney injury, kidney transplantation, hypertension and nephrotic syndrome among neonates and children. As principal investigator, his research on acute kidney injury and hypertension is supported by grants from Hamilton Health Sciences New Investigator Award (2017), Physician Services Incorporated Grant (2018), Kidney Foundation of Canada Grant (2019), and an Early Career Award by Hamilton Health Sciences (2020). Rahul has worked on PHRI’s START study to understand the determinants of adiposity and hypertension among newborns of South Asian origin in Canada and India.
He joined the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster Children’s Hospital as an Assistant Professor in September 2015. In November 2016, he finished his Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology (Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation) and Clinician Investigator Program from the University of Toronto. He is also an associate faculty in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI) at McMaster University. Rahul was appointed as an adjunct ICES scientist in February 2020.
Zubin Punthakee is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine (endocrinology and metabolism) and Pediatrics, at McMaster University. His research interests are: clinical trials of diabetes management; association between obesity and insulin resistance/diabetes, especially in youth; health care delivery and outcomes during transition from pediatric to adult care; and long-term outcomes of pediatric endocrine diseases.
At PHRI, he has held leadership roles in the TIDE trial, ORIGINALE study and RICH LEGACY study. He has published more than 22 articles, been supported by Research Career Awards from Hamilton Health Sciences and the Department of Medicine at McMaster University, and holds research grants from agencies including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Russell De Souza, a registered dietitian and nutritional epidemiologist, focuses his research on dietary factors that influence chronic disease throughout the lifespan, with a particular interest in macronutrients, dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease.
He received his doctoral degree in nutritional epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed post-doctoral training in systematic reviews and randomized trial methodology jointly at McMaster University, and at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Dipika Desai oversees many epidemiologic studies, including the South Asian birth cohort, START, the South Asian Heart Risk Assessment (SAHARA), and the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds (CAHHM), as well as management assistance and oversight in the utilization of samples from a number of other studies.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition from the M S University in Baroda, India, and a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of British Columbia.
Jodi Miller has more than 15 years experience in academic research. She has been at PHRI since 2012 where she has coordinated large international industry and investigator initiated trials. In her current role she coordinates clinical trials and clinical quality assurance projects in stroke.
Jodi has a BSc in Physics from Mount Allison University and a PhD in Medical Biophysics with a focus on magnetic resonance imaging applications from Western University.
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