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Public Health Policy

IMPORTANT NOTE: Admissions are suspended while we review the future of this collaborative specialization. We sincerely regret the disappointment this will bring to those who had hoped to apply.

Many public health scares (COVID-19, SARS, the tainted blood scandal, listeria outbreak) and on-going threats to the public’s health (tobacco use, obesity, physical inactivity) highlight the need for effective public health policy and the central role of public policy in building public health capacity and improving population health.

What is Public Health Policy?

Public health policy, the backbone of public health, is policy related to public health issues. Substantively, public health policy addresses a broad range of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Policies for infectious and chronic disease prevention and control
  • Food security and food policy
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Environmental health policy
  • Physical activity policy
  • Substance abuse and harm reduction policy
  • Gambling policy
  • Occupational health policy

Public health policy includes a wide array of legislative and regulatory interventions, administrative practices, financing and funding decisions, and various forms of soft law operating at all levels of government, affecting multiple settings, jurisdictions and sectors of activity.

Public health policy is different than health policy, which focuses on issues of health services and health care delivery.

Why Offer a Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy?

In Canada, the need for professionals trained specifically in public health policy has been identified as a top priority by government agencies at all levels. The Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy (CSPHP) fills this niche, providing an exciting opportunity to become intellectually and actively involved in the complex tasks demanded by public health policymaking including: policy change, policy analysis, policy assessment, and policy structures and planning. This training program promotes an active, productive and collaborative multidisciplinary community of researchers, trainees, policymakers, educators and practitioners that works and learns together to address – from a policy perspective – the key issues compromising the public’s health at local, regional, national and global levels.

What is the CSPHP?

The Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy is a cross-disciplinary program providing graduate students with exemplary training program in public health policy. It will give students the capacity to contribute to the development, refinement, and evaluation of policies to address society’s pressing and emerging public health priorities. Through the direction of academics and policymakers associated with the Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy, students will be provided with real world skills to address the complex and demanding task of public health policy making (including insight into a wide array of legislative and regulatory interventions, administrative practices, financing and funding decisions, and various forms of soft law e.g., guidelines and informal processes) which operate at the international, federal, provincial and municipal levels and in settings that are cross-cutting (e.g., worksites) and in ways that are both cross-jurisdictional and cross-sectoral.

Upon successful completion of the Master’s or PhD requirements of the host department and the program, students receive the notation “Completed Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy” on their transcript and a collaborative program parchment countersigned by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Program Director.

Host Faculty: Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Participating Degree Programs

Please note that graduate students from ANY program of study at the University of Toronto are eligible for participation in the Collaborative Program. It is NOT required to be enrolled in one of the participating degree programs in order to apply for the Collaborative Program. In addition to the required CSPHP courses, students will be able to take electives relevant to public health policy through the participating degree departments.

Terms of Participation in Collaborative Program

  • All students enrolled in the Collaborative Program must complete the requirements of the Collaborative Program, in addition to those requirements for the degree program in their home graduate unit
  • The Collaborative Program Director and/or Program Committee is/are responsible for certifying the completion of the Collaborative Program requirements
  • The home graduate unit is solely responsible for the approval of the student’s home degree requirements

Requirements & Components

Core Requirements

All students must:

  • Satisfy requirements of home degree program and graduate unit
  • Complete 1.0 full-course equivalent (FCE) in public health policy from the following list:
    • CHL5300H Public Health Policy, CHL5308H Tools and Approaches for Public Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation (Note: IHPME students can take HAD5011H Canada’s Health Care System, and Munk MPP/MGA students can take PPG2000H Politics and the Policy Process instead of CHL5300H or CHL5308H)
    • This requirement will be waived for students who have completed 2 of these 4 courses previously

Master’s students must also:

  • Undertake a major paper, thesis or practicum placement with your home program that has a public health policy focus (the CSPHP does not require an extra paper/thesis/practicum)
  • Complete the Master’s Seminar Series course, SRM3333Y Public Health Policy Collaborative Specialization Seminar (credit only, no course weight), which is comprised of six Monthly Rounds and two full day Public Health Policy Institutes (see below)

Doctoral students must also:

  • Undertake thesis research with a public health policy focus
  • Complete the Graduate Seminar Series course CHL5309Y Advanced Analysis of Topical Issues in Public Health Policy, which is comprised of Monthly Rounds and two full day Public Health Policy Institutes (see below)

Monthly Rounds

The monthly public health policy rounds provide an opportunity for mentors and trainees to meet on a regular basis, share and receive feedback on their work, and hear talks on public health policy issues. Monthly rounds will be offered by the various academic units and partnering agencies, addressing a wide array of relevant topics.

Public Health Policy Institutes

The Fall and Winter Institutes are key forums for learning about the latest evidence and state-of-the art approaches to public health policy research and practice, constructively debating topical issues, and engaging collaboratively with stakeholders and decision makers around pressing policy case studies. The Institutes present an opportunity for students to enhance knowledge and professional competencies.

Optional Program Components

Training and Research Pods

To foster new cross-disciplinary team research, trainees may join one or more research and training pods. Pods may work with academic mentors and representatives from the public health policy-making community.  Each research and training pod will develop a cross-disciplinary collaborative research agenda based on current and emerging interests and issues in public health policy and work towards one or outputs such as PowerPoint presentations, conference abstracts, reports and manuscripts.

Lunch and Learns

The Lunch and Learns provide excellent opportunities for program participants to engage informally around career pathways that reflect a Public Health Policy Focus.


All participants in the Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy have the option of establishing a mentorship with a Program Mentor. Please contact for more information.

How to Apply

Applications for the 2023-24 competition for the Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy are now closed. If you would like information about the 2024-25 competition, please email


Mentor Name Expertise
Robert Schwartz, PhD
Public health policy, public policy, public administration, accountability, evaluation and monitoring, policy change
Sara Allin, PhD Health systems, comparative health systems and policy within Canada and with high-income countries
Yvonne Bombard, PhD Genomics health services and policy research, health outcomes and impact of new genetic tests, patient & public engagement, health technology assessment, mixed methods, personalized medicine
Adalsteinn Brown (Steini), PhD Public health policy making in government and non-government settings
Ray Copes, MD Development of policies, strategies and services in environmental and occupational health
Raisa Deber, PhD Health policy, document analysis, health services research, health economics, decision making, technology assessment, survey methods, policy analysis, public-private mix, health human resources
Erica Di Ruggiero, PhD Population health interventions (policies, programs), their health and health equity impacts, global agenda setting in policy, population health intervention and implementation research, qualitative research and mixed methods research, knowledge utilization and exchange strategies to influence public health decision-making at national and global levels
Roberta Ferrence, PhD Tobacco policy, tobacco epidemiology, second hand smoke, population surveys
Michael Goodstadt, PhD Best practices, health promotion, public health, disease prevention, addictions, evaluation
Bartholomew Harvey, MD, PhD Epidemiology, cancer screening, chronic diseases, public health practice, public health human resources, survey methods, recall bias, education research
Suzanne Jackson, PhD Health promotion, healthy public policy, evaluation, community-based research, qualitative research, participatory research
Arif Jetha Examining life course differences in the labour market participation of people living with chronic episodic conditions, identifying workplace accommodations, policies and programs that prevent work disability, application of systems thinking perspectives to conceptualizing the role of organizations in the return-to-work process, survey methodology; mixed-methods research, strategies for the analysis of public health policy
Prabhat Jha, MD, DPhil Global health, HIV/AIDS, tobacco, epidemiology
Akwatu Khenti , PhD Black mental health, mental health stigma, anti-Black racism in criminal justice, education and health, social determinants of mental health, global mental health capacity building
Mary L’Abbe, PhD Food and nutrition policy, assessing and modelling nutrition policies and population intakes using national food consumption survey data
Trudo Lemmens, PhD Health law, bioethics, research regulation and research ethics, public health law
Heather Manson, MD Policy interventions to address risk factors for chronic disease, health equity
Gregory P. Marchildon Health policy, Health systems, Health financing, Policy history and Federalism and health
John McLaughlin, PhD Cancer epidemiology, prevention & screening, population health, molecular & genetic epi, environmental risk factor, surveillance systems, genetic risk, gene-environment interaction
Fiona Miller, PhD Health policy, health technology policy, public health ethics, newborn screening
Kate Mulligan, PhD Urban governance and the political ecology of health: Healthy public policy, applied municipal public health, global urban infrastructure, climate change, food, vectorborne diseases
Cameron Mustard, ScD Epidemiology, population health, occupational health
Blake Poland, PhD Health promotion, community development, qualitative methods, social theory, hospital-community collaboration
Carlos Quiñonez, DMD, PhD Dental care, public policy, health equity, access to care, social sciences and health, history of healthcare
Jurgen Rehm, PhD Alcohol and drug epidemiology, alcohol policy, economic evaluation, treatment evaluation
Terrence Sullivan, PhD Public health policy, cooperative performance
Ross Upshur, MD Concept of evidence in health care, medical epistemology, clinical reasoning, public health ethics, ethics and health information, empirical approaches in bioethics, primary care research methods
Xiaolin Wei, MD Global health, primary care, tuberculosis, antibiotics resistance, diabetes/hypertension, policy evaluation; complex interventions; implementation science frameworks; randomised controlled trials
Daniyal Zuberi, PhD Social policy, poverty, inequality, work, immigration, health policy

Current Students 2023-24

Master’s Students

Name Area of Research Interest
Sarah Jeong Sarah Jeong Food and Health policies; School Food
Bahja Farah Black health, gerontology, non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, climate change and women’s health
Yizhuo Wang Healthcare system; health service and health program delivery
Sophia Hou Food security and 2SLGBTQIA + health
Sahran Shafaque Womens Mental Health, Sociocultural barriers to healthcare accessibility and Health Promotion and Policy
Nur Izzah Leong Children’s health, policy and systems change, social determinants of health
Neha Anwar Mental health, infectious disease, and obesity
Nathalie Trinh Patient engagement and patient-oriented research
Nabeel Ali Child/infant health policy and food health policy
Joud Bayeh Alternative ways to fix the Labour Shortage in the Ontario public health system
Emma Knechtel health among marginalized populations, food system policy and environmental health policy
Dena Abtahi

Health economics, social determinants of health, health policy, chronic disease epidemiology (disease burden), and genetic epidemiology & statistical genetics.


Martin Bartels Awortwe
Caroline Middleton Food and health policies
Aiman Malhi

Health equity, public policy, social determinants of health and healthy aging, global health, food security, and food policy


  Yosra AlMakadma Primary care, mental health and addictions, health of the homeless and underhoused, human health resources
Idil Ali Health equity; disease prevention and the social determinants of health
Sarra Ali Policies for infectious and chronic disease prevention and control
Sarah Chandler Food security, sustainable food systems, health equity, global health, social determinants of health
Pooja Dey Community mental health, health equity, health promotion, social determinants of health
Caitlyn Kaziev Health equity, social determinants, disability and patient advocacy, bioethics, public health law, clinical public health
Mackenzie Murray Global health and health equity, substance abuse and rehabilitation health policy
Abbira Nadarajah Policies affecting health inequities and social determinants of health
Elizabeth Loftus Climate change adaptation and environmental health policy
Abby Taher Policies surrounding equitable income security, food security, and community development
Savannah Torres-Salbach Mental health and addictions, women’s health, food security
Heili Poolsaar Infectious disease response and environmental impacts on health and disease on local and global scales
Stefaniia Martsynkevych Mental health service delivery; accessibility of mental health services
Fizzah Chowdhry Health equity, environmental health policy and climate change adaptation
Anuva Arrya Sharma Health equity, access and quality of care for marginalized patients, and social determinants of health
Jhanvi Kharwar Health for women and newborns
Arooba Bari Maternal health, food security, housing, and social determinants of health

PhD Students

Name Area of Research Interest
Leo Ruhl Infectious disease and disability policy, knowledge utilization, and public health agenda setting
Emily Ziraldo Nutrition policies and school food programs
Damilola Iduye Social and structural determinants of health, health equity, Black health, type 2 diabetes, and health policy
Archchun Ariyarajah Vaccination, infectious disease, implementation science
Zoë Greenwald Infectious disease and drug policy
Emily Ha Policies for chronic disease prevention and control
Maria Medeleanu Policies for infectious and chronic disease prevention and control / environmental health policy
Rachel Thorburn Health equity and social determinants of health as they pertain to youth mental health

Past Students


Master’s Students

Name Area of Research Interest Degree
Jeremy Piamonte Technology and innovation MPP
Titus Chan Social determinants of healthy aging, health navigation, gerontology, social work in primary care, health promotion MSW
Maryam Fatima Climate change adaptation, environmental health policy MGA
Rana Khafagy Policies for infectious and chronic disease prevention and control MPH
Sai-Amrit Maharaj Investigating how public health policy influences health data exchange / interprofessional communication / interoperability among EMR systems TRP
Nicole Weber Investments in health care, supporting front-line workers, innovation MPH
Mitra Yakubi Public health policy, public policy, mental health policy, policy change MGA
Annette Blais Pediatric nutrition NS
Kimberly Crasta The legislation and practices dictating healthcare practitioner interprofessional communication and centralized healthcare system MHSTR


PhD Students

Sumedha Kushwaha Smoking and smokeless tobacco policies in South-East Asia; vaping and cannabis policy in Canada PhD
Shana Kim Policies for chronic disease and cancer prevention and survival PhD
Carly Jackson Public health policy pertaining to the health of migrants PhD
Jenna Quelch Politics of women’s health; Medical necessity; Assisted reproductive technologies PhD


Master’s Students

Name Area of Research Interest Degree
Alina Chen Food policy, food insecurity, health equity MPH
Christine Del Rosso Food security and policy, environmental health policy and climate change adaptation MPH
Riley Garno Health promotion, social determinants of health MPP
Sandra Gosling Indigenous child and family welfare, gender-based violence, substance use, wellness MSW
Joy Hannam Health and social policy MPP
Sabrina Hyde Investments in health care, supporting front-line workers, innovation MPP
Suman Kanoatova Health equity and the social determinants of health MPH
Felix Lau Mental health policy, social determinants of LGBTQ2S+ health, health equity, policy & program evaluation MPH
Emily Maradin Infectious and chronic disease prevention and control, substance abuse and harm reduction policy MPP
Haileigh Robb Food insecurity, health equity, maternal and child nutrition policy, social determinants of health, global health MPH
Theresa Shuma Policy analysis and change MPH
Nina Trask Food policy as it relates to community/public health, literacy and security MPH
Rhea Virkutis Infectious disease arising from environmental conditions (Indigenous health) MPH
Frédérique Watulo Infectious disease outbreaks and chronic diseases MPP

PhD Students

Dina Almaatani Nutrition policy PhD
Jorge Angel-Mira Post-War development, migration, and health policy PhD
Ingrid Giesinger Social determinants of health, chronic disease prevention, health equity PhD
Lief Pagalan Environmental health policy PhD


Masters Students

Nadine Abdel-Ghafar Sexual, gender, and race-based violence, health equity/social determinants of health MA
Sally Abudiab Access-related issues to long-term community health services for people with chronic needs MSW
Monish Ahluwalia Health technology assessment MSc, MD
Daniel Byrne Social determinants of health, mental healthcare for sexual minorities, program and policy evaluation MSW
Sabrina Campbell Healthy quality improvement and safety MSc, MD
Victoria Davis Social determinants of health, health equity, policy and program evaluation MSc
Pavlina Faltyek Public health systems organization as it relates to transitional justice MSc MPP
Shameemah Khan Global health policy MPH
Jessica Klingler Harm reduction HBa, MI
Stephanie Lawrence Health promotion, chronic disease/injury prevention, social determinants of health, health equity, social justice, primary care reform MN
Rachel Lee Policies affecting health inequities and social determinants of health; sexual & reproductive health policies MPH
Matthew Oh Drugs and substance regulation; rehabilitation and social reintegration MPP
Yina Shan Systems thinking, planetary health, global health, environmental and climate justice, health equity, political advocacy MPH
Diane Simon Indigenous and First Nations MPH
Mehathie Sivakumaran South Asian health, immigrant and refugee health MPH
Michael Snider Public health nutrition, food environment/industry regulation, food security, education, accessibility and health equity in all policy MPH
Calum Thompson Urban and community health MPH
Maria Tinajero Nutrition policy MSc
Mariana Villada Rivera Health equity (and social determinants of health) MPH
Steven Winkelman LGBTQ+ health access and health equity MPH

PhD Students

Nadia Flexner Food policy PhD
Abdulrahman Ghoneim Dental public health policy, dental disease prevention PhD
Wade Michaelchuk Physical activity, public health policy PhD
Christine Mulligan Food policy PhD Nutritional Sciences
Franklin Perez Microplastics-associated infectious disease PhD
Monte-Angel Richardson Violence prevention PhD Social Work
Harman Sandhu Public health financing, governance, and leadership PhD Health Services Research
Michelle Tam LGBTQ+ health, reproductive technologies, sexual and reproductive health PhD Social and Behavioural Health Sciences
Laura Vergeer Food policy PhD Nutritional Sciences


Masters Students

Heather Abela Social determinants of health, marginalized populations and health equity, healthy public policy MPH
Alysha Bartsch Mental health, Mental Healthcare, Service Access/Use, Social Determinants of Mental Health MPH
Cassandra Carey Health Promotion and implementation-based science MNS
Vhil Castillejos Urban and Community Health, Newcomer Immigrant Health, Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health, Youth, and Mental Health MPH
Katherine Charness Public planetary health, healthy public policy, climate change, policy innovation, co-design, collaboration MPH
Monika Dalmacio health equity/social determinants of health, social justice, healthy public policy, primary care reform/implementation of integrated care in Ontario MHSc
Joseph Friedman Burley Inclusive LGBTQ2S, Health Policy MPH
Casidhe Gardiner Food & Nutrition Policy; Social Determinants of Health MPH
Natalie Gdyczynski Social determinants of health, access to health care for marginalized populations,Delivery of health services in the community international health policy MPP
Mary Kathleen Greenaway Transgender Health, Social Determinants of Health MPH
Kelly Husack Indigenous Health, Environmental Health, Urban Policy, Social Determinants of Health MPP
Rebecca Johnson Social Determinants of Health, Community Development, Policy and Program Evaluation MSc
Kira Kastner Social determinants of health, Health in All Policies, trauma-informed policy and human-centered design for policy MPH
Janani Kodeeswaran Public health policy pertaining to racialized women and the Canadian labour market MPH
Juliane Koropeski Health equity, social determinants of health, harm reduction, access to healthcare, program and policy evaluation MPH
Jennifer Lee Food and health policies MPH
Preveena Manisekaran Food, Nutrition, Health Policy, Food Security, Policy Development MPH
Alexia Medeiros Chronic Disease Prevention MPH
Sumayya Mehmood Social Determinants of Health in association with Mental Health and Stigma MPH
Nam (Eugene) Seungwon Public health policy development and assessment in relation to clinical outcomes/factors MPH
Matineh Rastegar Panah Nutrition Public Health Policy MSc
A. A. Rajendran Tobacco Control Policy MPH
Indhu Rammohan Drug policy; drug policy evaluation; harm reduction policy MSc HSR
Michael Snider Public Health Nutrition, Food Industry and Natural Health Products Regulation, Food Environment Policy, Educational Institutions, Food Security, Disadvantaged Population, Disability/Accessibility Policy, Mental Health Policy, Health Equity in all Policy MPH
Sterling Stutz Health Equity, Social Determinants of Health, Indigenous Health MPH
Merissa Taylor-Meissner The intersection of mental health, community-building, and social justice MSW
Rebecca Warrian Aging, end of life care MPP
Thilaxcy Yohathasan Indigenous Public Health MPH
Arbella Yonadam Infectious and chronic disease prevention and control, climate change adaptation MPH

PhD Students

Yalinie Kulandaivelu Public Health Informatics PhD, Health Services Research
Mariana Morales HIV in high-risk groups (e.g. men who have sex with men) PhD in Health Services Research, Health Policy
Jean-Paul Soucy Antibiotic resistance/ antibiotic stewardship PhD Epidemiology


The Collaborative Specialization in Public Health Policy hosts monthly Rounds as part of its commitment to sharing knowledge and ideas in public health policy. All rounds are held in person in HS106 from 12:30pm to 2:00pm and are open to everyone! Events for 2022-23 are now over.

Past Events

Recordings are available for most Rounds. Click the Title link to go to the video on YouTube.


Date Guest Speaker Title
March 10 CSPHP Students Research Pods Presentations
  • The Uses and Future of Blockchain in Electronic Medical Records
  • Access to Maternal Healthcare for refugees in Canada
February 10 Amaya Perez-Brumer Does Global Health Make Health or Data? Learning from Peruvian Trans Women
January 13 Mary L’Abbe Global Progress on the Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling to Improve Health (slides only)
November 11 Pamela Kaufman Smoke-free Policy: Progress and Remaining Gaps
October 21 Rob Steiner Restoring Trust In Public Health: A Patient-Centered Model For Public Health Crisis Communications
September 16 Dr. Fahad Razak Canada’s Response to the Initial 2 years of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison with Peer Countries


Date Guest Speaker Title
March 11 Joana Lima Madureira, Benoît Gomis The Shared Strategies of Health-Harming Corporations to Influence the Policy Process
February 11 Lisa Sanders Achieving Net Zero: Energy Transitions and the Art of Governing Public Health (not recorded)
January 14 Notisha Massaquoi Public Health Policy in the Age of Racial Reckoning: Promoting Health and Wellbeing for Black Communities in Canada (video not available)
November 12 Brian Rush Research on Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy and Entheogen-Based Healing: An Overview and Public Policy Considerations
October 22 Adalsteinn Brown Science Advice During a Time of Crisis (not recorded)
September 17 Ross Upshur If We Listen to the Science, What Language Does It Speak: Reflections on Science, Values and Pandemics


Date Guest Speaker Title
February 26, 2021 Dr. Sara Allin Examining the Governance, Organization, and Financing of Public Health Across Canada and Their Impacts on the COVID-19 Response
January 15, 2021 Michael Chaiton Individual-​Level Risks Are Imaginary: Understanding the Impact of Public Health Interventions Through the Experience of Tobacco Control
November 13, 2020 John McLaughlin Evidence, Information and Determination Underlying Public Health Policy and Practice for Covid-19 Response
October 16, 2020 Natasha Crowcroft Immunization Policymaking and Measles: Moving from Vertical to Horizontal
September 18, 2020 Vivek Goel COVID-19: Science to Policy


The goal of my research program in social epidemiology is to elucidate the impact of policies and interventions on reducing health inequities. As a CIHR Public Health Policy Fellow, I received advanced training in the theory, analysis and evaluation of public health policies. Particularly of interest for my research is how different types of evidence are used in public health policy decision-making. Participation in the Strategic Training Program in Public Health Policy provided me with valuable skills to compliment my expertise in epidemiology. This experience was instrumental to the development of my interest in applied public health research, a path that led me to my current position as a Scientist at Public Health Ontario.

My advice to current Fellows is to take advantage of the rich resources available to you through this unique collaborative environment. This includes becoming active in planning and participating in the program components to tailor these experiences to meet your learning goals. Most important is to engage with the other Fellows and interact with the program Mentors, who are leading researchers and policy experts in the field of public health policy.

Brendan Smith
Public Health Ontario

As a health researcher at the London School of Economics, I participate in a number of activities related the economic assessment of health and social care policies. I feel privileged to be in a position where I provide specialist commentary on past, present and future health interventions for many domestic and international governments and health organizations. In addition to my research activities, I thoroughly enjoy conveying my fascination with the world of health care and economics through lectures, conferences and events.
The training program was a truly enriching experience, which enabled me to be a more confident and well-rounded health researcher. In addition, it introduced me to many peers and mentors, who continue to be a source of collaboration and support. The training and development offered by the collaborative was immediately relevant upon graduation, and provided me with a substantial toolkit when entering the workforce. The coursework related to policy approaches, and modules on the economic evaluation of public health interventions, were of such interest they guided many of my subsequent career choices.

Suggestions for new and current students in the Collaborative Program:
Attend every event, lecture, workshop and module available. Actively engage with the built-in network of peers and mentors, and find at least one area of public health to immerse and specialize in.

Matt Townsend
PhD Candidate in Health Economics
London School of Economics

Knowledge-to-Action Processes and Macro-Level Decision-Making:
20 Minutes with Dr. Laura Rosella

Dr. Laura Rosella is currently a Scientist at Public Health Ontario, and an Assistant Professor in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. As a population health researcher, she focuses on ways in which we can inform the prevention of chronic diseases and their risk factors.

Rosella was accepted into the 2009-2010 CIHR Strategic Training Program in Public Health Policy as a post-doctoral fellow in Epidemiology. Her research looked at how high impact, macro-level decisions are made during a pandemic. Such decisions are typically made very quickly, and under immense pressure. For instance: who do we vaccinate first in the midst of a global infectious disease? Rosella’s timing could not have been better: she undertook her research during the global outbreak and aftermath of the H1N1 influenza virus, which reached the height of its pandemic in 2009. “People wanted to talk. They wanted to share their experiences.” Rosella went on to secure 40 key informant interviews with public health and healthcare clinicians and practitioners across Canada who were directly involved with containing the outbreak.

The Strategic Training program was instrumental for Rosella in developing an understanding of what public health policy is: “I still work in public health policy. The Training Program gave me the toolkit to implement policy, as well as access to a system level of public health policy.” Rosella’s study bred a new area of research around knowledge-to-action processes, and specifically how knowledge interfaces with policy. How can we package evidence and knowledge in a way that is amenable to policy?

For Rosella, the various components of the program offered great value: “The Institutes were extremely helpful, due to the large network of people that you can connect with. The Rounds really showcase the interdisciplinary nature of the program. They lend the opportunity to network with various disciplines and with mentors.”

Does Dr. Rosella have any suggestions or advice for new students? “Embrace everything that the program has to offer,” she says. “I learned a whole new language that I had never spoken before, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t completed the program.”