uOttawa launches Canada’s first academic research centre focused on Black health

Black family, father holding son
Black family, father holding son

The University of Ottawa is launching Canada’s first academic research centre dedicated to studying the health of Black communities, creating an interdisciplinary center examining biological, social, economic, and cultural determinants.

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Black Health (ICBH) aims to be a leading research and training centre for promoting health equity for Black communities across the country by collaborating with a handful of university faculties and research institutes, public agencies, and local, national, and international collaborators.

The ICBH is the brainchild of Dr. Jude Mary Cénat, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) and founder of uOttawa’s Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience and Culture Research Laboratory (V-TRaC Lab). Cénat – whose research sheds insight into the mental health state of Black communities in Canada – expects the ICBH to take a leadership role in identifying priorities in research on the physical and mental health of Canada's Black communities among children, adolescents, men and women.

Jude Mary Cénat

"Our 2019 Mental Health Survey clearly demonstrated racial discrimination plays an extremely important role in depression among people in the black community," says Professor Cénat. "Those who experience a high level of racial discrimination are 36 times more at risk of experiencing severe depressive symptoms compared to those who experience less racial discrimination."

The ICBH hopes to become a leading interdisciplinary research and training space to guide federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal agencies to understand, reduce and eliminate racial health disparities. Its mission is to promote health equity for Black communities through rigorous, interdisciplinary, innovative research and community and social engagement.

Professor Cénat hopes the ICBH will address the urgent needs of Black Canadian communities, including issues related to health disparities; developing tools to inform healthcare training; and proposing evidence-based standards, strategies, and policies.

"There are inseparable links between physical health and mental health," says Dr. Cénat. "A person who experiences racial discrimination and develops depression is also likely to experience severe stress and may develop diabetes, high blood pressure and, potentially, kidney problems.”

“I’m so proud to support the launch of the Centre, a pioneer with an interdisciplinary vision that will assure its success. I don’t expect we will have to wait long to see our community reap the benefits of this initiative,” says FSS Dean Vicky Barham.

The creation of the centre is marked by broad collaboration with uOttawa’s Faculties of: Law (Civil Law and Common Law Sections); Medicine; Health Sciences; and Social Sciences. The research institutes of the uOttawa affiliated hospitals include CHEO, Ottawa Hospital, The Royal Hospital, Heart Institute, Montfort Hospital. The center is directed by a leadership committee composed of Dr. Jude Mary Cénat (Faculty of Social Sciences), Dr. Sharon Whiting (Faculty of Medicine), Dr. Chibuike Udenigwe (Faculty of Health Sciences), and Dr. Emmanuelle Bernheim (Faculty of Law).

ICBH Launch Details

What: The virtual inauguration of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Black Health (ICBH)


  • The Honorable Dr. Marie-Françoise Mégie, Senator, former professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montreal
  • Dr. Josephine Etowa, Full Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences

When: Thursday, October 21, 2021, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Click here to sign up for the virtual Zoom event

Dr. Jude Mary Cénat is available to media for interviews in English and French. Dr. Sharon Whiting (English only), Dr. Chibuike Udenigwe (English only), and Dr. Emmanuelle Bernheim (English and French) are available to media for interviews.

For media enquiries:
Paul Logothetis
Media Relations Agent
Cell : 613.863.7221
[email protected]