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Recognizing research outreach

Queen’s researcher Oyedeji Ayonrinde garners outreach award for efforts to educate Canadians about the risks of cannabis.

Oyedeji Ayonrinde (Psychiatry) has received the 2019 Biomedical Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research Canada (PIR). This national award recognizes the work of biomedical researchers who have undertaken significant outreach education efforts for the benefit of the Canadian public.

[Oyedeji Ayonrinde (Psychiatry)]
Oyedeji Ayonrinde (Psychiatry) is the recipient of the 2019 Biomedical Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research Canada. (University Communications)

Dr. Ayonrinde garnered the award on the strength of his efforts to educate Canadians about cannabis. His work in this area has focused on both teaching the public about the potential risks of cannabis use, especially for youth, and educating other health care professionals about the latest developments in cannabis research.

“I owe this award to and share it with all the young people, families, educators and clinicians striving relentlessly for the greater good of our youth,” says Dr. Ayonrinde, the Medical Director of the Early Psychosis Intervention Program in South Eastern Ontario, Heads Up!

Dr. Ayonrinde has developed educational programs that he has delivered to a variety of audiences, including teenagers, parents, secondary school teachers, postsecondary students, hospital staff, and emergency first responders. He has also led awareness sessions with the Indigenous leaders at Tyendinaga and the Canadian Armed Forces, and recently testified to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on cannabis use and veterans.

In addition to leading these traditional classes, Dr. Ayonrinde has also raised awareness through webinars, social media, and other innovative methods. With Professor John-Kurt Pliniussen (Smith School of Business), he has worked with Queen’s students to develop marketing campaigns about the risks of cannabis for high school-aged students in Eastern Ontario.

“Children, youth and young adults are key to the future of all societies and deserve to have the best mental wellbeing they can,” Dr. Ayonrinde says. “Frequent, heavy use of high potency cannabis at an early age is a high risk factor for the development of psychiatric disorders. While genetic factors also contribute to the risk of psychosis, cannabis is a risk we can mitigate or even eliminate.”

PIR is a registered Canadian charity founded in 1988 to help Canadians understand the significance, accomplishments and promise of biomedical research in advancing health and medicine. Since its genesis, PIR has broadened its scope to encompass all areas of academic and applied research as fields of discovery and study for Canadian students. For more information about the Partners in Research national awards, visit the website.