By Linda Scales
On May 19, 2016, the Faculty of Medicine officially launched the School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SEPHPM), the latest evolution of the distinguished, 70-year-old Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine. The new School will continue to offer both academic and professional training, and conduct diverse and internationally recognised research in the fields of public and applied health.
The ceremony was preceded by a celebration to honour the contributions of Dr. John Last, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Epidemiology. Dr. Last is best known for his leadership in creating the Dictionary of Epidemiology, now in its sixth edition and translated into 14 languages, and for initiating the International Epidemiological Association’s ethics guidelines for epidemiological research, practice and teaching. Dr. Last, who is 90 this year, was awarded the Order of Canada in 2012. At the School launch, he was joined by Dr. Jacques Bradwejn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, along with Dr. Julian Little, Director of the new School, and Dr. Peter Donnelly, President of Public Health Ontario, who addressed those in attendance.
The School is an interdisciplinary and collaborative hub for learning and research within the Faculty of Medicine. There are four main teaching programs, including an MSc program and a PhD in epidemiology, as well as teaching directed at undergraduate medical students and the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program. Moreover, SEPHPM’s research, under the strong leadership of Dr. Little, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Human Genome Epidemiology, leverages the skills and talents of researchers from a wide range of academic backgrounds and interests to far-reaching effect.
The evolution of the Department into a School will improve the structure of the academic unit, allowing it to enhance the training it provides, broaden its research focus, and foster “engaged scholarship”, which entails strengthening its ties with partners and stakeholders to promote more collaborative research and teaching. At the local level, the School aims to improve patient and population health outcomes among the diverse population of the Ottawa region. More broadly, it will undertake research on the determinants of health and causes of disease, and intends to develop, implement and evaluate practices, programs and policies to optimize health and social services.