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Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Dr. Jacqueline GahaganIn recognition of their distinguished contributions in health-equity research and advocacy, informing public policy for equitable health care, activism in support of equity-deserving populations with rights-based grassroots organizations, and dedication to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support in Canada and globally, the university proudly confers upon Dr. Jacqueline Gahagan the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. 

Dr. Gahagan is the Associate Vice-President of Research at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Throughout a more than 30-year career, the medical sociologist by training has been at the forefront of research on sexual health promotion and HIV prevention, shedding light on the unique challenges faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, ranging from social stigma and discrimination to health-care access barriers.

Beyond academia, they are deeply engaged in advocacy and community outreach, including community and government initiatives aimed at raising awareness, promoting dialogue, and advocating for policy changes.

They have held a variety of research associate positions, including with the European Union Centre of Excellence, the Dalhousie University Health Law Institute, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, and the Healthy Populations Institute. Prior to their academic career, Dr. Gahagan worked as an evaluation specialist in public health within all levels of government, focusing on harm reduction, HIV and Hepatitis C prevention, and tobacco-use cessation.

Dr. Gahagan is a founding member and currently serves as the Co-Director of the Atlantic Interdisciplinary Research Network for Social and Behavioural Aspects of HIV and HCV. They have also contributed to a wide range of organizations including the Nova Scotia Advisory Commission on AIDS, the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Interagency Coalition for AIDS and Development, and the Ministerial Advisory Council on the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada.

An advocate for current and former youth-in-care, Dr. Gahagan leads several research studies to examine and evaluate the impacts of tuition-waiver programs on reducing barriers to post-secondary education. They remain dedicated to creating inclusive environments and a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of life circumstances. 

Dr. Gahagan has received numerous recognitions, including the Order of Nova Scotia, the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, and the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research’s Leadership Award.