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Laura Bisaillon, PhD

Assistant Professor
Health Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough
Cross-Appointed Faculty, Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies,
University of Toronto

University of Toronto Scarborough
1265 Military Trail
Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4
(416) 208-5088


To see Laura's profile at UTSC’s Department of Anthropology, click here
To review Laura's publications, please click here
To read about how Laura integrates global health teaching and research, please click here here.


Laura is assistant professor in Health Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough with graduate appointment at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies of the University of Toronto. She is also a Scholar at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, former Lupina Senior Academic Fellow in the Comparative Program on Health and Society at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of the Toronto, and Associate Member of the Unit for Critical Research in Health at the University of Ottawa. Laura is fluently bilingual in English and French.

Laura is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose work focuses a critical eye on the politics of health, illness and migration. The broad aim of her program of research is to produce a theoretically informed, empirically and socially contextualized dimension to law and policymaking. She accomplishes this through her various funded projects that take place in Canada, Ethiopia and Iran. Laura employs ethnographic approaches, qualitative strategies, and insights from the social sciences, critical health and humanities literatures to explore the social organization and production of knowledge practices, and to investigate social issues and problems at the dynamic and complex intersections of immigration, health, the law, policy, and health (with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS).

Through professional practice and academic training, Laura has honed her expertise in critical qualitative health research approaches. She was core member of the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group between 2008 and 2012. For her doctoral dissertation — an institutional ethnography and the first theoretically informed social scientific exploration and critique of the inner workings of the medical and bureaucratic practices regulating immigration to Canada for people living with HIV — Laura was awarded three high honours: the Governor General’s Gold Medal for the Humanities and the Joseph De Koninck Prize for Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Ottawa, and the Distinguished Dissertation Award for the best Canadian dissertation by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies for Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Laura is actively involved in various scholarly and civil society milieus. She sits on the editorial boards of APORIA Nursing Journal, Forum: Qualitative Social Research and Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees. She is a member of the Canadian Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Law and Society Association, the Sociologists’ AIDS Network, and the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology. Laura is former board member of the HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario, and she is currently involved with People to People Organization Canada, both in Toronto.

Graduate Supervision

Laura is interested in attracting and working with graduate students who are critically, creatively, and curiously minded, and whose academic interests align with her areas of subject and methods expertise. She very much welcomes email overtures from dynamic potential graduate students!


Laura created and teaches the following courses at the University of Toronto:

  • HLTC04 Critical Qualitative Health Research Methods

  • HLTC05 Society, Health and Illness

  • HLTD06 Migration and Public Health
  • CRI3310 Migrations, Mobilities, and the Law

Sample Publications

Ng, S., Bisaillon, L., & Webster, F. (2017). Blurring the Boundaries: Using Institutional Ethnography to Inquire into Health Professions Education and Practice. Medical Education (forthcoming)

Bisaillon, L. (2014). Introduction: The polictics of practice and the contradictions for people, policy and providing care: Investigations into the implictations of health work organized within state interests. Public Health Ethics, 7(3), 225-228.

Bisaillon, L., & Ells, C. (2014). When doctoring is not about doctoring: An ethical analysis of practices associated with Canadian immigration HIV testing. Public Health Ethics, 7(3), 287-297.

Bisaillon, L., & Eakin, J. (2014, Nov. 12). Strategies for understanding and navigating the ‘academic underlife’. University Affairs. 

Bisaillon, L. (2013). Disease, disparities and decision making: Mandatory HIV testing of prospective immigrants to Canada. BioéthiqueOnline, 2(10), 1-6.

Bisaillon, L. (2013). Contradictions and dilemmas within the practice of immigration medicine. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 104(1): e45-e51.

Bisaillon, L. & Rankin, J. (2013). Navigating the politics of fieldwork using institutional ethnography: Strategies for practice. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(1), Art.14. 

Bisaillon, L. (2012). An analytic glossary for social inquiry using institutional and political activist ethnography. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 11(5), 607-627. 

Bisaillon, L. (2011). Mandatory HIV testing and everyday life: A look inside the Canadian immigration medical examination. Aporia, 3(4), 5-14. 

Amaratunga, C., Bisaillon, L., Murangira, F., Kalinda, L., Rowe, M., & Farber, A. (2011). The story of the GOAL ‘unproject’: The Global AIDS Ottawa Link Project and the empowerment of African and Caribbean communities. In D. Spitzer (Ed.), Engendering Migrant Health: Canadian Perspectives (pp. 213-230). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Bisaillon, L. (2010). Human rights consequences of mandatory HIV screening policy of newcomers to Canada. Health and Human Rights, 12(2), 119-134. 

Bisaillon, L. (2010). Working from within endemic HIV stigma: Developing Canadian social workers’ understanding of the challenges faced by newcomers managing HIV. Canadian Social Work, 12(1), 32-44.