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Centre for Social Accountability

The Centre for Social Accountability is a multidisciplinary centre of NOSM University dedicated to the improvement of health and wellness in Northern Ontario. Through policy leadership and advocacy, research and innovation, and education that better aligns medical training with community needs, the Centre is becoming a  frontrunner in the improvement of sustainable  equity, access, and population health outcomes.

Situated on the Anishinabek Nation – specifically the Atikameksheng and Wahnapitae First Nations – and operating under NOSM University’s governance and administration, the Centre’s impact derives from its regional focus, yet is unbounded in its scope. The national and international relevance of the Centre’s work will become recognized as its results are dispersed among practitioners, policy makers, and advocates in similarly challenged jurisdictions.

The aim of the Centre for Social Accountability is to improve the health of Northern Ontarians while extending beyond NOSM University’s commitment to being socially accountable in our education and research programs and advocating for health equity. The Centre’s integrated approach in the areas of policy leadership and advocacy; research and innovation; education; and community impact will produce a deeper and broader understanding of a range of issues affecting population health outcomes both inside and outside of the medical system. In this way the Centre’s social accountability research defines and strengthens the work of NOSM University and its partners, making it more effective in the achievement of this critical mission.

Download the Centre for Social Accountability brochure.

Our People

Erin Cameron

Dr. Erin Cameron. CFSA Director. NOSM Human Sciences Faculty. MERLIN Research Lead. (

Dr. Erin Cameron is an Associate Professor in Medical Education and Curriculum Development at NOSM University and the inaugural Director of the Centre for Social Accountability. She currently co-chairs the Northern and Rural Health curriculum course in the Undergraduate Medical Education program at NOSM U and is a founding member and the Chair of MERLIN (Medical Education Research Lab in the North), a community of practice research group focused on building capacity and doing innovative socially accountable medical education research.

As an educational leader, Erin represents NOSM on multiple national groups such as the Canadian Medical Education Research Centre Directors Group and the AFMC Social Accountability Network. Her program of research focuses on social justice pedagogies that support transformation in education and health systems. With regional, provincial, and national funding focused on socially accountable medical education research, professor Cameron fosters multidisciplinary research collaborations. Prior to joining NOSM in 2017, she held a faculty appointment at Memorial University of Newfoundland and enjoyed a varied career as a professional athlete and communications specialist. Erin loves living in Northern Ontario and enjoys vibrant outdoor adventures with her partner and four young children.

Alex Anawati

Alex Anawati, MD, CFPC-EM. ER Physician. CFSA Executive. NOSM Clinical Sciences Faculty. MERLIN Physician Lead. (


Dr. Alex Anawati is an ER physician at Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. A member of NOSM’s charter class, he has continued his involvement at the medical school as an Assistant Professor, Global Health Coordinator, and member of the school’s board of directors. He is also a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s Social Accountability Working Group and represents NOSM on AMEE’s ASPIRE for Excellence Social Accountability Panel. Alex is also the Principal Investigator and Co-Lead for the SAFE for Health Institutions Project

He has delivered over 25 presentations, workshops and acted as a panelist in a number of local, provincial, national and international forums with respect to social accountability in medical education and healthcare service delivery.  He is a member of the ASPIRE for Excellence in Social Accountability Panel and a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s Social Accountability Working Group.

You can check out some of Dr. Anawati’s perspectives on social accountability in medicine with this community presentation and podcast delivered to the City of Greater Sudbury. You can also read about his Call-to-Action: ‘Social Accountability as the Framework for the Moral Obligations of an Academic Health Sciences Centre’ in Social Innovations Journal. Dr. Anawati was recognized as one of Sudbury’s 40 Under Fourty in 2019 for his work on Social Accountability in Medicine.

Barb Zelek

Dr. Barb Zelek. Rural Generalist Family Doctor. CFSA Executive. NOSM Clinical Sciences Faculty and Division Head. NORTHH Physician Lead. 2021 Family Physician of the Year. (

Dr. Barb Zelek is a rural generalist Family Physician, clinical teacher, mentor, researcher and leader in academic medicine at the NOSM University. Dr. Zelek has practiced for 20 years in Marathon, Ontario, in the unceded traditional territory of the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nations people. 

An innovative and flexible clinical work environment has supported Dr. Zelek in her academic role as Clinical Sciences Division Head at NOSM U, where she has oversight of the 1,700 clinical faculty teachers. Dr. Zelek was the co-chair of the Section of Family Medicine prior to becoming Division Head. As a community-based researcher, Dr. Zelek co-created a practice-based research network (NORTHH) by collating de-identified primary health care electronic medical record data that can be used for practice-based quality improvement and community-based research. 

Central to her community service work is her quiet, diplomatic advocacy grounded in community relationships. Dr. Zelek is an active community volunteer and a proud mom to two amazing teens and wife to an incredibly supportive husband.

Brianne Wood

Dr. Brianne Wood. CFSA Executive. TBHSRI Research Scientist. NORTHH Research Lead. (

Dr. Brianne Wood is the inaugural joint Social Accountability and Learning Health Systems Associate Scientist in a partnership between NOSM University, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute. She is also the 2021 Health Systems Resilience Fellow, awarded by the Health Research Foundation of Innovative Medicines Canada. Dr. Wood’s research program focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of learning health systems research in Northern Ontario and supports the integration of educational and health systems research. She also serves as the Research Director of NORTHH (the NOSM University Research Toward Health Hub—a practice-based research network for primary health-care providers) within the Centre for Social Accountability. As Associate Scientist, Dr. Wood supports primary health care research, quality improvement, and capacity-building in Northern Ontario. With a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Ottawa, Dr. Wood has expertise in integrated knowledge translation and mixed methods research. Dr. Wood also has applied experience from working as a health systems epidemiologist in Northern Ontario, including health equity impact assessments, health system performance measurement, and primary health care capacity, specific to northern, rural, and remote contexts. She was recently interviewed on the Resilient Healthcare Coalition podcast.

Hilary Mettam

Hilary Mettam. CFSA Research Associate – Management and Planning. (

Hilary is a part-time Research Associate with the Centre for Social Accountability. She previously worked as the Community Development Lead for the North West Regional Palliative Care Program and is passionate about improving patient, family, and caregiver experiences within the health care system. Hilary completed her undergraduate degree at Western University (HBHSc–Rural and Remote Health) and a Masters of Public Health at Lakehead University. She is an advocate for research, policies, and programs that focus on improving the overall quality of life of Northern Ontarians. While her current home is in Thunder Bay, Hilary has also lived in Kenora and Fort Frances and enjoys spending time in the region and with extended family in Parry Sound. She loves the outdoors and is an avid hiker, cyclist, and cross country skier.


Maxwell Kennel

Dr. Maxwell Kennel. CFSA Research Associate – Writing and Communications. (

Max is a part-time Research Associate with the Centre for Social Accountability and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto (2021-2023). Max’s research focuses on social critique and the role of religion in society, and he is currently working on a postdoctoral book project on critiques of conspiratorial thinking. In 2021 he defended his dissertation “Ontologies of Violence” in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University, edited a special issue of the journal Political Theology, and published a book called Postsecular History with Palgrave Macmillan. His work with the Centre for Social Accountability is focused on communications and writing, the epistemology of social accountability, and the relationship between conspiracy theories and public health.

Key Objectives

Community Impact

Our Community Impact Goals include:

    • Tracking the intake and output of NOSM graduates in all programs (UME, PGME, HSP, CEPD, etc.) and their impact through performance in the programs, location and type of practice, and impact on population health.
    • Identifying and advocating for specific interventions in local and regional health care delivery that will have positive impacts in the future.
    • Responding  to the resource needs of communities through improved health workforce planning.

Policy Leadership and Advocacy

Our policy Leadership and Advocacy Goals include:

    • Establishing Canadian and international standards for the assessment of social accountability in health education, health research, and health service.
    • Collecting and disseminating evidence of the impact of Canadian medical schools and academic health science networks in being socially accountable.
    • Enabling the continuous improvement of healthcare practices by applying this knowledge in a systematic way and leading transformative change in social accountability in health.
    • Providing leadership in social accountability at national and international conferences and meetings.
    • Becoming recognized and consulted as the most credible voice in planning and policymaking for health and wellness across Northern Ontario.

Research and Innovation

Our Research and Innovation goals include:

    • Creating capacity for substantive research into social determinants of health affecting community health and wellness, with a focus on both preventative and curative approaches. 
    • Becoming recognized as the primary aggregator and disseminator of data and documents for other researchers in the field through the design, source funding, and execution of relevant and impactful research projects.
    • Disseminating research results and advocacy positions through publication, presentation, and participation in pertinent consultations with communities, institutions, and public agencies in the North.
    • Sharing methods, expertise, and other resources with those who are teaching or studying in social accountability or rural and northern medicine.
    • Leveraging data collection and research relationships to build relevance of accumulated Centre work in other jurisdictions with similar challenges.


Our Education goals include:

    • Demonstrating the measurable impact of NOSM University’s social accountability mandate through its curriculum and the alignment of NOSM University’s curriculum and training programs with the needs and priorities of the communities it serves.
    • Demonstrating our commitment to the values and intentions of social accountability in the internal policies and practices of the Centre and NOSM University.

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