Dr. Nicholas Birkett

Dr. Nicholas Birkett
Dr. Nicholas Birkett
Adjunct Professor



Dr. Birkett is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. He is an Associate Director for the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment. 

Dr. Birkett began his university education with a B.Math in mathematics from the University of Waterloo.  This was followed by an M.D from McMaster University and an M.Sc. in Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics from McMaster University. His academic career began in 1978 as an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Western Ontario. After three years, he moved to the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University (for five years) and one year in the Department of Anaesthesia at the University of Toronto. In 1988, he moved to the University of Ottawa as an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine. Dr. Birkett participates in providing expert reviews for various grant review committees (eg. the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the FRSQ) and journals (eg. the American Journal of Epidemiology and PLOS One).

Dr. Birkett's primary interests are in epidemiological research methods. His research has covered many areas including: hypertension treatment, application of psychological models to improve the effectiveness of life style interventions for disease prevention, molecular epidemiology of caner etiology and drug safety. He is currently working on the implications of complex systems on epidemiological methods. An initial application of a system approach was to cancer etiology and the interaction of dietary exposure and metabolic variants which affect creation of internal carcinogens. A second area of application involved drug-drug and drug-diet interactions in the risk of adverse reactions to pharmacological agents (e.g. the potential interaction of drugs on the effectiveness of clopidogrel in preventing stent closure). Finally, systems approaches are of strong relevance in risk assessment approaches.

Research interests

  • Epidemiological methods
  • Cancer etiology
  • Drug safety
  • Complex systems
  • Risk sciences
  • Pharmacoepidemiology