Feb. 22, 2023

Community impact drives award-winning health researcher

Turin Chowdhury has spent his career connecting community needs with resources
Turin Chowdhury accepting a Calgary Award with Ward 2 City Councillor Jennifer Wyness (left) and Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek (right) in 2022
Turin Chowdhury accepts a Calgary Award with Ward 2 City Councillor Jennifer Wyness, left, and Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, right, in 2022. The City of Calgary

Dr. Turin Chowdhury, PhD, is driven by the potential of his teaching, mentoring and research to improve immigrant, refugee and underserved communities.

Chowdhury received a Calgary Award for excellence in education in 2022 and was also recognized internationally, receiving the North American Primary Care Research Group Mid-Career Researcher Award last November.

“These awards demonstrate how important social justice, human rights and equity issues are for any type of health research,” he says. “These issues are important not just for individuals, but also for the well-being of the entire community. The recognition inspires us as researchers to keep moving forward and pushing for progress. I am deeply honoured.”

Turin Chowdhury

Turin Chowdhury.

The City of Calgary

Chowdhury’s program of research embeds the community being studied into all aspects of the project, from helping shape study questions to finding participants and disseminating results. He is committed to building research capacity within the community, so that community members are empowered partners in the research process.

Chowdhury is a founding member of UCalgary’s Newcomer Research Network, a transdisciplinary group of researchers studying how to improve the lives of newcomers. Chowdhury also emphasizes a two-way exchange of knowledge, organizing symposiums in 2019 and 2021 — shifting to virtual when needed because of the COVID pandemic — with hundreds of participants attending. He also created Community Engaged Learning initiatives that connect students in various disciplines with local high school students, providing valuable experiential learning opportunities for both community youth and learners at the university.

My job is to make sure the research is relevant and beneficial to the community. The most important thing that we do is leave the community in a better place. It’s about building a better city, a more integrated city.

Chowdhury was born in Bangladesh and earned a doctoral research degree from the Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan. He added a master’s degree studying in Sweden before coming to Canada for postdoctoral study in 2010. Chowdhury is currently an associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine and Community Health Sciences and continuing professional development director, Department of Family Medicine.

Community collaborator and mentor

Rossana Urrutia

Rossana Urrutia at a booth sharing information on primary care research with the community.

Photo submitted by Rossana Urrutia

Rossana Urrutia has supported Chowdhury’s community-engaged research projects for several years. A health-care professional originally from Venezuela, she was part of a team of community researchers who helped make projects possible, translating research surveys into Spanish, gathering feedback and helping disseminate results back to the community.  

“He has been a tremendous mentor,” says Urrutia. “Collaborating with Dr. Chowdhury, I have gained experience and developed new research skills. He’s a helper, always thinking about the needs of others.” 

Francis Boakye is the executive director of ActionDignity, an organization which connects people in minority and vulnerable communities in Calgary with services they need. Boakye has worked with UCalgary researchers to improve access to services, promote health and knowledge exchange projects in immigrant and refugee communities.

“Dr. Chowdhury has been a strong advocate of social justice, human rights, and equity for all citizens for many years,” says Boakye. “He is a bridge from research and academia to the needs in our community.”

Chowdhury has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on 40 research studies and has more than 250 peer-reviewed publications, many of which had student and mentee involvement, reflective of his commitment to training and mentoring the next generation of researchers. He also has community scholars and citizen researchers involved in a number of the publications.

Turin Chowdhury is an associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine and Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is continuing professional development director, Family Medicine, and a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute and O’Brien Institute for Public Health.

The CSM honoured its major external award winners in the annual Celebration of Excellence on Feb. 15. Learn more about all 2023 honourees.