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Professor Prabhat Jha receives CIHR Trailblazer Award

April 13/2016

By: Marc Dodsworth, St. Michael’s Hospital

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has awarded Dr. Prabhat Jha its inaugural Trailblazer Award in Population Health Solutions.

The CIHR-IPPH Trailblazer award recognizes Dr. Jha’s exceptional policy and practice contributions to population health. Dr. Jha’s wide scope of research with health policy impact are demonstrated by projects such as his Million Death Study, global tobacco control research and studies on maternal and child health.

Dr. Jha is a Professor of Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and director of the Centre for Global Health Research of St. Michael’s Hospital. His research has shown that the benefits of quitting smoking are substantially greater than had been previously estimated. Smokers who quit when they are young adults can live almost as long as people who never smoked. Smoking cuts at least 10 years off a person’s lifespan. But the Centre for Global Health Research’s comprehensive analysis of health and death records in the United States found that people who quit smoking before they turn 40 regain almost all of those lost years.

“There has never been a better time to work in global health — we’ve achieved huge reductions in child mortality and now the world is slowly paying attention to powerful ways to reduce premature adult mortality,” said Dr. Jha , who also holds the Dalla Lana Chair in Epidemiology and Global Health at the School. “I am deeply honoured to receive the CIHR-IPPH Trailblazer Award as it recognizes our centre’s collective efforts at improving the health of populations around the globe.”

Dr. Jha’s research and advocacy have helped to reduce premature deaths from smoking in many countries.

“Most of the world’s estimated 1.1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Jha.  “These are countries where quitting remains uncommon so our centre curbs cigarette use by quantifying local tobacco health hazards and conducting economic research on interventions.”

The Centre for Global Health Research uses population health data to work directly with national or institutional leaders. Dr. Jha’s research program has influenced tobacco tax increases—the most effective way to encourage smokers to quit—in the Caribbean, India, Mexico, South Africa, the Philippines, Canada and elsewhere.

The award also recognizes the Dr. Jha’s leadership, mentorship and innovative contributions.

“It’s an honour to be given the CIHR-IPPH Trailblazer Award,” said Dr. Jha. “The prize also serves as a reminder that much more needs to be done to address public health needs in Canada and abroad.”

Dr. Jha has worked at the World Health Organization and the World Bank, where he conducted analyses on global tobacco that led to the world’s first global treaty on health, now signed by 180 countries.