Dr. Mary Forhan, OT Reg(Alberta), PhD, Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy and Associate Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, has been named by Obesity Canada’s (OC) science committee and board of directors as the organization’s next Scientific Director.

Dr. Forhan’s two-year term will begin in spring 2021 after a six-month transition period as Scientific-Director Elect, beginning immediately. Dr. Arya M. Sharma will continue as Scientific Director until then; post transition he will continue to play an active role in OC’s activities.

Dr. Forhan brings a wealth of research and professional expertise in obesity care and advocacy to OC, including interests in improving the quality of life and reducing the disability experienced by persons living with obesity. Her research goals are to develop the capacity to provide evidence-based rehabilitation for patients with multiple chronic health conditions including obesity and to improve access to healthcare by reducing weight bias and discrimination. Dr. Forhans’ research is also focused on addressing institutional and social barriers that restrict access to engagement in life roles for people living with obesity.

“I am thrilled to be able to leverage my work in reducing weight bias and promoting best practices in obesity care by stepping into this new role,” Dr. Forhan said. “I’ve been with OC since its inception and have grown along with it, and look forward to contributing to its future successes.”

“Dr. Forhan has long been a passionate volunteer for OC, from her days as a PhD student contributing to the original funding application that launched OC to organizing the first weight bias summit in Canada in 2011 and co-authoring the new CPGs,” said Dr. Sharma. “She brings a unique perspective as an occupational therapist to OC, highlighting that quality obesity care and policies require support from multiple disciplines and viewpoints that rely on scientific evidence to develop best practices. This will be critical to OC’s work to make the new CPGs a standard of care in Canada.”