Dr. Morton Beiser is Professor of Distinction in Psychology at Ryerson University, as well as Founding Director and Senior Scientist of the Toronto Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS).
After obtaining an MD from the University of British Columbia in 1960, Dr. Beiser interned at the Montreal General Hospital, completed a residency in Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Centre, and pursued post-doctoral training in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Cornell University. The Harvard School of Public Health appointed Dr. Beiser Assistant Professor of Behavioural Sciences in 1967, later promoting him to Associate Professor in 1971. Between 1971 and 1976, Dr. Beiser chaired the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on mental health problems affecting American Indians, and led a national study of mental health services on US Aboriginal reservations. A Josiah Macy Jr Foundation Faculty Scholars Award made it possible for Dr. Beiser to spend the academic year 1974-1974 in France and Senegal completing his studies on the mental health effects of urbanization in Senegal which he had begun several years earlier.
Dr. Beiser left Harvard to return to Canada in 1975, and was appointed Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. He focused his research on immigration and resettlement research, as well as on the health of First Nations peoples. Between 1981 and 1991, he was Principal Investigator for the Refugee Resettlement Project, a ten-year study of the health and experiences of more than 1300 “Boat People,” from Southeast Asia.
Between 1986 and 1991, Dr. Beiser was Principal Investigator for the Flower of Two Soils, an investigation of mental health and academic achievement among 2,000 Aboriginal children on two Canadian reserves and two US reservations.
Dr. Beiser has served on many scientific review committees for granting agencies including the National Health Research Directorate Program, Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He also chaired the Epidemiology and Services Review Committee of the US National Institutes of Mental Health.
In 1986, Dr. Beiser was appointed chair of a federal government Task Force on the mental health of immigrants and refugees. The final report, After the Door Has Been Opened (1988), contains a summary of the major issues confronting new settlers in Canada as well as a series of recommendations to governments about ways in which to alleviate the distress of immigrants and refugees, and to facilitate their integration. From 1990 to 1994, Dr. Beiser served as a member of the Canadian Multiculturalism Advisory Committee, a cabinet-appointed committee charged with overseeing the implementation of Canada’s multiculturalism law and policies. He chaired the Medical Advisory Committee of Citizenship and Immigration Canada from 1999 through 2006.
Dr. Beiser moved to Toronto in 1991 to assume the newly-created David Crombie professorship in Cultural Pluralism and Health as well as a professorship in Psychiatry. He also established the Culture Community and Health Studies program at the University. Dr. Beiser has been Principal Investigator for a number of studies, including Immigrants and Tuberculosis, an investigation of factors accounting for the high risk for Tuberculosis among immigrants and refugees; Growing Up in Canada, a study of the children of the Southeast Asian refugees who took part in the Refugee Resettlement Project; Community in Distress, an investigation of the mental health of 1600 adult Tamils living in Toronto; and The New Canadian Children and Youth Study, a national, longitudinal investigation of the health and development of approximately 5,000 immigrant and refugee children in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. The University of Toronto appointed Dr. Beiser Founding Director of the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement in 1996. He stepped down as Director in 2003, but retains his affiliation with the Centre as a Senior Scientist.
Dr. Beiser has received more than $17 million in research funding from peer-review sources including the US National Institutes of Mental Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the WT Grant Foundation of New York. He has authored more than 185 scientific papers, a book entitled Strangers at the Gate, (University of Toronto Press 1999); co-edited a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Public Health on Reducing Health Disparities, and is co-editor of Immigration, Ethnicity and Health, University of Toronto Press (in press). In order to help effect a crossover from research into policy and public debate, Dr. Beiser created a twelve-part radio series on immigration and settlement in Canada that was aired on public radio in Ontario and Alberta throughout 1999 and 2000. He also conceived, wrote and narrated an eight lesson curriculum on immigration, consisting of CD’s, teacher guides and a Web site for children in grades four through eight, as well as a separate, four part series for high school students. These materials, subsumed under the title Strangers Becoming Us, are in use in public elementary and high schools across Canada
Recognition of Dr. Beiser’s achievements has included National Health Scholar and Scientist Awards from Canada’s National Health Research and Development Program (1981-1999); honorary membership by the Belgian Royal Society of Medicine (1975); the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation (New York) Distinguished Scholar Award (1974-1975), the University of Toronto Beverley Distinguished Professor Award (1988); the Joey and Tobey Tanenbaum Award for Research in Schizophrenia (1994); the Rockefeller Foundation Resident Scholar Award (1995); the Canadian Psychiatric Association’s Alexander Leighton Award for Research in Psychiatric Epidemiology (2002); the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal (2002) and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal (2012) awarded by the Senate of Canada. In 2004, he received the Order of Canada.