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2 Concordia researchers attend the 2023 Science Meets Parliament event in Ottawa

Sylvia Santosa and Sarah Moritz participated in the two-day gathering of Canada’s top researchers and policy-makers
June 5, 2023
Smiling woman with long, dark hair in a lab coat sitting at a desk in a lab interior.
Sylvia Santosa: “The idea is to build relationships so our science can better be translated into policy-making.”

The third annual Science Meets Parliament brought scientists and researchers from across the country to Ottawa to meet with policy-makers on May 1 and 2.

Two Concordia researchers were selected among the 38 final participants out of 120 applicants: Sylvia Santosa, Canada Research Chair in Clinical Nutrition (Tier 2), and Sarah Moritz, a sociocultural anthropologist and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow.

Billed as an opportunity to strengthen connections between Canada’s scientific community, parliamentarians and policy-makers, Science Meets Parliament is organized by Canada’s Office of the Chief Science Advisor and the Canadian Science Policy Centre.

The importance of scientific research in policy-making

The meeting promoted the importance of politicians and policy-makers being provided with, open to and informed by the latest and most accurate scientific research.

Peer-reviewed data provides governments with strategies to improve the lives of citizens. Through science, society can tackle collective social problems with neutrality and evidence, in the process countering unknowns, inaccuracies and falsehoods.

Close collaboration between the two camps can foster an environment in which government has a greater chance of positively impacting people’s lives.

A smiling young woman in front on the trunk of an enormous tree, wearing a woollen beanie and a black jacket Sarah Moritz, a sociocultural anthropologist and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow.

Better treatments for malnutrition and obesity

Santosa’s research on obesity is an example of how science can help politicians draw up programs and implement policies for the good of individuals and society. “My expertise is in nutrition, obesity and metabolism,” she says.

“We look at how fat in different places in your body can contribute to disease risk. We’re trying to understand how we might be able to better individualize treatment for obesity.”

With the right data and latest research in place, the government can act confidently to provide individuals and the public with effective programs and courses of action — whether it be for promoting nutrition, environmental issues or dealing with a pandemic.

“The idea is to build relationships between scientists and government so our science can better be translated into policy-making,” adds Santosa, who met with senators and members of parliament.

“It was a really interesting experience because we don’t often do these types of things — the softer skills related to getting our research out there,” she says.

“We learned about how parliamentarians get their information and general pointers about presenting your research so it’s understandable to a broader audience. And it gave me some insight into what goes into making policy decisions.”

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