Dr. Ananya Banerjee, PhD
Founder, Principal Investigator

Dr. Ananya Tina Banerjee is Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLPSH), University of Toronto. She received her PhD in Health Research Methodology from McMaster University. Her interdisciplinary research embeds a strong emphasis on community-based participatory research (CBPR), which is grounded in collaboration and partnership. Often, the research questions she pursues are community-defined problems in the context of the social determinants of health using mixed-methods. This allows for the innovative adaptation of existing resources; explores local knowledge and perceptions; empowers people by considering them agents who can investigate their own situations. She examines epidemiologic trends, conducts qualitative research, and designs evidence-based health programs. Dr. Banerjee has received multiple research awards and tri-council grants including from CIHR, SSHRC and the Lawson Foundation that has recognized the novelty and value of her research.  

Avantika Mathur-Balendra, MSc.
Research Manager

Avantika graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BSc. in Health Studies Co-Op and completed her MSc. in Global Health at McMaster University with a specialization in Global Health Management. Her interests lie in grassroots community development work and program development and implementation. She has worked on numerous health promotion and disease prevention initiatives in Canada, the US, Peru and India. She is passionate about youth- and women-led community programs.

Nuzha Hafleen, MPH

Research Coordinator

Nuzha Hafleen holds a Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (Health Promotion), with a Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy, from the University of Toronto. Nuzha has extensive experience working frontline with various marginalized groups. Nuzha is interested in evidence-based population health interventions, health evaluation and healthy public policy. She has a strong interest in health equity, particularly among ethnic minority populations.   

Natasha Kithulegoda, MPH, PhD Candidate
Graduate Researcher

Natasha holds a Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences from the University of Western Ontario, and a Master of Public Health in Health Promotion and Global Health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Currently, she is a part-time doctoral student in the Health Services Research stream at the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. On the SAHRH team, Natasha co-leads the Sri Lanka Migration and Diabetes Study, born out of a SSHRC grant written in her graduate studies.

Shudipta Shabnam Islam, MPH
Youth Engagement Specialist

Shudipta completed her Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto with a dual specialization in  Global Health and Community Development. Her personal and professional interest lie at the intersection of health, equity, and social justice. She is particularly passionate about how race and racialization interact with social determinants such as immigration, socio-economic status, and gender, to create stark health disparities across communities. 

Amina Khan, MPH Candidate
Arts & Science Specialist

Amina Khan is a Master of Public Health student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She holds a degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and worked as a Nutritionist prior to her graduate studies. She has worked with Move N’ Improve Canada, Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services, ELLICSR: Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Her research interests lie in youth and young adult health, community development and public policy. 

Nousin Hussain, MPH
Knowledge Translation Specialist

Nousin completed her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Toronto. She’s currently working at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at the Toronto General Hospital, to create digital platforms for virtual diabetes care.  She’s involved in numerous local and global efforts to develop equitable health interventions and policies that center the needs of marginalized communities. Her research interests include exploring the nexus between digital health, chronic illness and social inequities. 

Evelyn Ascencio, MPH
Social Media Specialist

Evelyn Ascencio completed her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Toronto. Growing up as the daughter of Salvadoran refugees in a predominately low-income Toronto neighbourhood, Evelyn  witnessed the daily effects of social inequities on her family and friends. These lived experiences motivated her to work directly with the community to address societal factors that lead to health disparities. This has led her to work with Toronto Public Health, Fred Victor Centre, and Planned Parenthood Toronto. Evelyn ultimately aims to empower marginalized communities in Toronto in her work as a researcher and educator.

Nora Moidu, Work Study Student
Practicum Student

Nora Moidu is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a double-major in Global Health (Human Biology) and Peace, Conflict, & Justice Studies. Her passions lie at the intersection of these disciplines—in health equity and social justice. Nora has previous research experience with the Reach Alliance, where she assessed the Co-Meta Initiative, a women’s economic empowerment program in Jalisco, Mexico. She is also a Co-Chair of the Hart House Social Justice Committee, and is involved in facilitating discussions relating to food insecurity, migrant worker rights, sustainability, and beyond.

Harsh Naik, MPH, MD Candidate

Research Analyst

Harsh Naik recently completed his Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and he is an MD Candidate at the University of Toronto. He has extensive research, work and volunteer experience in health care, academic, and community settings with a keen interest in social epidemiology, health equity, and public policy. Moving forward, he aims to ensure his work translates into productive action that is rooted in social justice and equity.

Anisha Mahajan, RD, MPH
SAADAP Lead Dietitian 

Anisha Mahajan is a Registered Dietitian working full time in Toronto and has her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Nutrition and Dietetics from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Anisha completed her undergraduate degree from Ryerson University in Nutrition and Food and her Dietetic Internship from ARAMARK Inc. Currently, she is involved in two research projects at her current place of employment and is the co-chair of a Dietitians of Canada network.

Marlon Teekah
SAADAP Lead Kinesiologist

Marlon Teekah is a registered Kinesiologist with a Masters in Kinesiology from the University of Toronto. He currently runs his own personal training business and is involved in various community physical education initiatives.  Life experiences have inspired him to develop the “1 to 23 Ratio” concept. This idea is purpose of his company, and emphasizes how 1 hour of training can help someone thrive in the other 23 hours of their life.

Nazima Qureshi, RD, MPH
SAADAP Dietitian

Nazima Qureshi is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist with a Masters of Public Health. She is the co-founder of, which is dedicated to helping Muslims make healthy eating and fitness the easy choice. She provides evidence-based and practical online programs to clients worldwide, host in-person and online events, and provide culturally relevant tips to make lifestyle changes. She is the co-author of The Healthy Ramadan Guide, a complete meal plan and fitness program as well as an informational guide to help the Muslim community have the healthiest Ramadan yet.

Shindujan Yogaratnam
SAADAP Kinesiologist

Shindujan Yogaratnam is a Registered Kinesiologist with the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario and Level 2 Certified with the Exercise is Medicine Canada. He had graduated from York University, with an Honours Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health Sciences. Post-graduation, he has developed a significant interest in working with physical activity programs catering to those living with chronic diseases and physical impairment in addition to individuals keen on physical maintenance.

Our sincerest wishes for all the individuals and organizations that have worked and collaborated with us in the past. We are very grateful for all your efforts and wish you the best in all your future endeavors:

Mehathie Sivakumaran

Lalitha Bhagavatheeswaran

Loji Umaharan

Mireille Landry
Maha Zawi
Debbie Childerhose
Neil Stephens
Ammara Shafique

Mina Bhardwaj

Munira Abdulwasi

 © 2020 South Asian Health Research Hub