Koumari Mitra




Annex C 21


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Dr. Koumari Mitra is a Professor at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada. Her research and teaching interests are primarily in the area of biomedical anthropology, human genetics and biological anthropology. She holds her PhD degree in Human Cytogenetics from the Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, India. She has also received postdoctoral training from the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton; and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA.

At UNB, Dr. Mitra has developed a program on biological and medical anthropology including the creation of a biological anthropology laboratory. Dr. Mitra has primarily been involved in studying gender issues pertaining to women’s health in India and Canada.

In Canada, Dr. Mitra’s research focuses on the gender dimension of cancer prevention and control issues in New Brunswick. Some of her major projects include: adolescent and young women’s health; awareness of cervical cancer risk factors among high school and university students in New Brunswick; and documenting challenges faced by HIV positive women in the province. At present, her research focuses on developing empowerment strategies for vulnerable groups in New Brunswick.

In India, Dr. Mitra has conducted a research study examining the gendered impact of globalization on HIV/AIDS transmission in urban slum areas of India. Her research also focuses on adolescent and young women’s reproductive and sexual health in India. She has studied the impact of development on tribal health in India. Currently, she is working on a project examining the practice of traditional medicine and biomedical health care with respect to reproductive health among selected tribal populations in India.

Dr. Mitra’s current research focuses on gender entrepreneurship and the practice of Jamu, a traditional medicine in Indonesia. At present her research is directed at examining social entrepreneurship as an empowerment strategy for sustainable development for marginalized groups in selected areas of India.

Dr. Mitra has received funding to support her research activities from various agencies in Canada, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC); Women and Development Award from the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute; Canadian Institute of Health Research Development Grant Award; SSHRC and IDRC-CURA International Development Grant Award; and the University of New Brunswick’s Research Awards. Her cancer research has received support from the New Brunswick’s Regional Research Development Program in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

Dr. Mitra has supervised a number of MA theses including smoking behaviour among adolescent and young women in New Brunswick; immigrant women’s participation and access to healthcare facilities in New Brunswick; injection drug use and the risk of HIV transmission in Fredericton; cervical cancer risk among high school students; sexual reproductive health among university students; women living with HIV/ AIDS in New Brunswick and Kenya; and traditional medicine and reproductive health of Munda women in Jharkhand, India. She is also supervising PhD thesis on Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development in New Delhi, India through the IDST program at UNB.


Perceptions of Cancer and Health Seeking Behaviour: Strategies for Cancer Prevention and Control in NB

Funded by New Brunswick Regional Research Development Program in partnership with the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society.

This research study has sought to conduct an in-depth examination of beliefs concerning cancer prevention and control of selected New Brunswick population groups. A qualitative approach comprising of semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and narrative analysis was used to understand the influence of cultural beliefs on health seeking behaviour with respect to cancer prevention. The selected population groups were categorized according to gender, ethnicity and age to determine whether possible differences exist in the perception of cancer causation and treatment choices within these categories.

In addition, this study documents experiences of the medical community including physicians and oncologists as well as perspectives of alternative practitioners regarding cancer prevention strategies. The results from the study identify primary areas of concern that can be useful in the development of large scale region specific research and also provide valuable information for the development of community based health promotion programs in New Brunswick.

Risk and Vulnerability: Women and HIV/AIDS in India

This study is based on a pilot research project entitled “Women’s Reproductive Health and Poverty: A Qualitative Study of the Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the Slum Populations of New Delhi India,” that I conducted in New Delhi, with financial support from a SSHRC Seed Grant award (March, 2000) and from a University Research Fund award (Fall 2000). This study was extended by further support from University Research Fund Award ( Fall, 2002). The research study was conducted in collaboration with FAITH Healthcare, a community based organisation in New Delhi.