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Ruth Elwood Martin

Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin is a family physician who worked in British Columbia’s provincial correctional centres starting in 1994. In 2000 she initiated a cervical cancer screening pilot inside prison, and later assisted with the HPV primary screening study in BC, “HPV-FOCAL”. In 2005 she became the Inaugural Director of the UBC Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education (CCPHE), a network of academic, community and prison persons interested in improving the health of individuals in custody, their families and communities. She introduced the unique concept of engaging women in prison, prison staff and academics in participatory health research (PHR) to address concerns raised by the women themselves. Over 200 women became members of the PHR team over three years, and their work included conducting 16 peer health surveys, hosting 10 health research forums, developing and presenting 46 health educational PowerPoints, writing health advocacy letters and presenting to the local high school. In 2013, she was co-principal investigator for the “Bonding Through Bars” project, which examined the topic of children born to incarcerated parents, and was an expert witness in the BC Supreme Court case, which ruled that the decision to cancel a provincial correctional facility mother-child unit infringed the constitutional rights of mothers and babies. In March 2014, Dr. Martin and CCPHE developed best practice evidence-based Guidelines for the Implementation of Mother-Child Units in Canadian Correctional Facilities.


  • –present
    Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of British Columbia