UM Today | School of Social Work

Assistant Professor Dr. Rusty Souleymanov is nationally recognized for his current efforts to provide health care, community-based services and social programs to some of Canada’s most disenfranchised and marginalized communities.

Rusty Suleimanov

Dr. Rusty Souleymanov

Over the past two years, Dr. Souleymanov has received over $1.2 million in grants through multiple grants from the Canadian federal government, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to lead his research projects. He The research aims to inform culturally sensitive healthcare and community service models.

Dr. Souleymanov’s goal is not only to prevent health and social disparities, but also to promote the well-being of key populations.

“As a minority in Canada, researching marginalized communities is very personal to me,” said Dr. Souleymanov. “Based on my own life experience and my 12 years as a community HIV and harm reduction researcher in Ontario and Manitoba, my research projects focus on the health and well-being of socially and economically marginalized communities, particularly Focus on the social sciences of harm reduction and infectious diseases.”

“Through my research program, I have had the privilege of working with a variety of key and priority populations, including Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis, Black, African and Caribbean, 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, immigrants and refugees, people who use injections medicines, and people living with HIV and hepatitis C.”

One of his primary research focuses is the critical social sciences of harm reduction and infectious diseases affecting marginalized communities.

“In Canada, we know that these communities are already disproportionately impacted by a variety of health inequalities, including negative sexual and physical health outcomes, mental health outcomes and substance use,” said Dr. Souleymanov. “For example, infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C and COVID-19 are disproportionately present in these communities in Canada.”

“In order to reverse these health disparities, I use the Village Lab’s learning program ( began focusing on how to ensure access to and access to health care and community services for the most marginalized people in Manitoba. “

In 2021, Dr. Souleymanov will develop a research lab at UM called the Village Lab, an interdisciplinary, community-based research lab in the School of Social Work. The Village Lab aims to conduct rigorous and applied social science and community health research that can be used to prevent a variety of health and social disparities and promote the well-being of Canada’s vulnerable and marginalized populations. Research projects involve community mentoring circles representing the different communities and key/priority populations we work with. In addition to Dr. Souleymanov, the Village Lab team includes an Indigenous elder, a knowledge guardian, people with life experience, graduate and undergraduate students and research assistants, and research and community project coordinators.

May 6thMP, Mental Health and Addiction Minister Carolyn Bennett interviews Dr. Souleymanov to discuss important work done through the Village Lab, including CIHR-funded work to study knowledge gaps related to mental health and substance use impacts in Manitoba Pandemic in Indigenous, Black, 2SLGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities.

“The research we do in our rural lab helps us develop and advance research on the health and well-being of marginalized communities and gather the evidence needed to influence public health policy or change the health care system in Manitoba,” Dr. Souleymanov said. “Village Lab provides models of health promotion, service delivery and health interventions directly to the diverse communities we serve”.

His work through the Rural Lab is further enhancing community-based research and improving the health of key Canadian populations. The Public Health Agency of Canada recently funded a rural laboratory training program called Investigaytors.

His research program also fosters the development of cross-jurisdictional collaborations and partnerships among key health system stakeholders, including community members, service providers in Manitoba, regional health authorities and policymakers, to better Using research data to develop health services and initiatives for marginalized communities in Manitoba.

“Some of the ways our research is most impactful is on provincial public health policy, including our advocacy for changing provincial HIV prevention drug (pre-exposure prophylaxis/PrEP) coverage and adding it to provincial prescriptions concentrated.”

Dr. Souleymanov continues to make significant contributions to social work policies and services affecting key populations in Manitoba and across Canada.More information can be found about Dr. Souleymanov here.

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