School of Epidemiology and Public Health grows stronger through its people and programs
Much is new with the School of Epidemiology and Public Health (SEPH) these days. Dr. Doug Coyle, Interim Director of the School, recently shared an update on their latest news and successes.
May 2017 saw the consolidation of SEPH with the move of core faculty members into their building at 600 Peter Morand. This new cohesive and collaborative network and the presence of up-and-coming researchers has created a sense of vibrancy throughout the building. The quality of people, Dr. Coyle says, has allowed SEPH to make major inroads in enhancing its existing programs and in the continued development of new programs such as the proposed Master of Public Health.
“The amazing people we’ve hired over the last seven to eight years have really bolstered the breadth of the school’s activities, as well as its research intensity,” says Dr. Coyle. “The progress we’ve made in developing the plans for our proposed new MPH program couldn’t have happened 10 years ago.”
With this new collaborative environment comes a recently approved name change to the School of Epidemiology and Public Health (SEPH), as it will be known moving forward. It was formerly known as the School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SEPHPM).
Three individuals have had prominence in the media lately, boosting the profile of the school while supplying valuable information to the public on current health concerns.
Dr. Ian Colman has been actively exploring how we can do better with mental health issues, both as individuals and as a society. His work addresses topical matters—not aimed at grabbing headlines, says Dr. Coyle, but rather to provide meaningful results. “Ian’s work has led to a lot of media presence, boosting both his and SEPH’s profile. His science is strong in an area which needs accurate and appropriate messaging,” says Dr. Coyle.
Dr. Manisha Kulkarni is a relatively new hire, already producing outstanding work. With tick populations moving north, the risk of Lyme disease in Ontario is on the rise, and she has been busy tracking its emergence and progression to help keep the public safe as they enjoy their walks in nature. “She is an extremely able researcher leading advances in public health,” Dr. Coyle explains. “In working partly in Africa, she is able to apply a global health perspective to Canadian health issues.”
Dr. Monique Potvin Kent is also a relatively new hire performing solid research. She explores issues such as nutrition and health policy, including countering subconscious marketing and its impact on the very real problem of obesity in children. “Her work is topical and eye-opening,” says Dr. Coyle. “She’s among a group of SEPH researchers doing vital work on today’s most relevant health issues.”
Dr. Coyle hopes that future recruitment will allow SEPH to augment their pool of researchers in epidemiology, population health risk assessment, biostatistics, health policy and public health.
SEPH have well-established and successful MSc and PhD programs in epidemiology. Faculty in SEPH are working hard to add a Master of Public Health to the array of graduate programs currently on offer. The MPH has been developed under the leadership of Dr. Brenda Wilson and Dr. Potvin-Kent with the involvement of many faculty across the School. Proposed streams include public health practice, public health policy and global health. The latter two areas emphasize areas of strategic growth within SEPH, and with its location in Canada’s capital with access to government, faculty members envision the MPH as a unique program. It is hoped the program will begin in Fall 2019, and it is expected to be competitive.
Graduate students within SEPH have a chance to work in exciting research under the school’s exceptional people, and have the opportunity to apply their real, practical research such as with Dr. Kulkarni’s work in Africa. SEPH trains future researchers and leaders, with many going on to senior positions throughout the Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Coyle has been in his role in a little over a year now, and speaks highly of his solid team. He extends his appreciation and congratulations to the following individuals:
Dr. Ian Graham: elected this month as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. Manisha Kulkarni: has won the Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, setting her up for being able to establish a research foundation.
Dr. Rama Nair: has been with the School for 42 years and with his retirement in December, will be missed.
Mariella Peca: A strong player in the success of SEPH after 43 years of service, and winner of the President's Award for Service Excellence
“We have an incredible team, invigorated even further by the hiring of numerous stars over the last several years,” Dr. Coyle says. “We are no longer saying ‘the future starts tomorrow’—the future for the SEPH is now.”
Main photo credit: Edward Ellis