Leadership & Specialists

JANUARY 2021 – Call for an Annual General Meeting

It is hard to believe nearly 5 years has passed since CANUE officially started, signifying the end of the original CIHR timeframe.  Through this time a lot has been accomplished.  Thanks to a dedicated staff, expertly guided by Eleanor Setton, CANUE’s Managing Director, and many members we, CANUE, have built a platform of environmental data along with a myriad of supporting tools.  We’ve built working relationships with key health data holders such that common environmental data are embedded within platforms covering the full life course.  As a result, Canadian research capacity related to urban form and health, the “urban exposome”, has advanced considerably and measurably.  Many research questions, from development of potential new exposure metrics to associations with health outcomes, have been and are being explored by a diversity of investigators from undergraduate students to established independent researchers.  Furthermore, new partnerships have formed and our networks have grown, including internationally, helping to expand and strengthen the environmental health community in Canada.  Many independently funded projects using CANUE data are ongoing and new proposals are being reviewed or under development.  Awareness of CANUE is high in Canada and internationally creating much opportunity.

In addition to reflection, five years brings CANUE to a logical point for looking ahead – where should or can CANUE head over the next five years?  We need to continue exploring and acting upon opportunities to secure new resources to grow and continue beyond 2024, aiming to have even greater impact. Of course, this depends upon three factors: (1) the interest and efforts of all CANUE members; (2) the needs and interest of data users; and (3) the amount of funding we can continue to attract.

We are excited to announce that planning for the first CANUE Annual General Meeting (AGM) for this May is underway.  While we were establishing the CANUE infrastructure, data holdings and distribution mechanisms, most planning has been undertaken internally at CANUE with guidance from our directors and members of the advisory teams.  It is now time to engage CANUE members widely, further turning the consortium into a member-driven program.  The AGM is the opportunity to do this.  We aim to use this meeting, spread into short engagements over the course of a week, to generate more excitement for the growth of CANUE and to take stock of CANUE and its related environmental health research.  In addition to initiating multiple, potentially coordinated efforts to attract new resources, a range of issues will be openly discussed.  What are the key challenges in the short and medium term?  What are the most important new directions to pursue based upon unique opportunities currently foreseen?  What is the best model for CANUE to grow, have impact and be sustainable?

As CANUE’s first and hopefully not the last Scientific Director, I look forward to our AGM to explore these questions, and others, leading to a viable strategic plan for the next five years and beyond.

With much appreciation to all those who have helped CANUE succeed,


Jeff Brook, PhD
Nominated PI and Scientific Director

Directors

Jeffrey Brook
Scientific Director and Nominated Principal Investigator

Jeffrey Brook (Principal Investigator and Scientific Director) has 25 years of experience as an Environment Canada scientist working at the science-policy interface. During this time he spent 15 years as faculty at the University of Toronto, where he was involved in research, lecturing and graduate student training. He is one of Canada’s leading experts in air quality, recognized at all levels of government and academically, including for his substantial contributions in air pollution health research. Dr. Brook has led scientific assessments to inform policy nationally and internationally, and advised multi-stakeholder groups shaping policy. He has led a variety of multi-disciplinary research teams in government, government-academic partnerships and in academia. Recently his efforts have expanded beyond air quality, for example for 8 years he has led the Environmental Working Group of the Canadian Health Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study and co-led the Gene x Environment Research Platform within the AllerGen Network of Centres of Excellence.

Philip Awadalla
Director and Principal Investigator

Philip Awadalla is the National Scientific Director of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrows’ Health (CanPath) cohort, Principal Investigator for the Ontario Health Study, and Director of Computational Biology at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He is also a Professor of Population and Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto and the Director of Genome Canada’s Canadian Data Integration Centre. Dr. Awadalla focuses on developing next-generation genomics approaches, model-based tools, and population-based approaches to study mutation rates, genome biology, and cancer. His main research interests include identifying genetic determinants of blood disorders and cancers, and genomic epidemiology of age related disorders in population cohorts.

Michael Brauer
Director and Principal Investigator

Michael Brauer is an internationally recognized expert in urban and environmental health. He is Director of UBC’s Bridge Program, Professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, and Professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Dr. Brauer’s research has uncovered relationships between transportation-related and biomass air pollution, and reproductive, respiratory, and cardiovascular health, and identified impacts of multiple exposures mediated by urban form on population health. He has participated in studies throughout the world and served on advisory committees to the UN Climate and Clean Air Coalition Scientific Panel, the World Health Organization, the US National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, the Royal Society of Canada, the International Joint Commission and governments in North America and Asia.

Howard Hu
Director and Principal Investigator

Howard Hu, Affiliate Professor At the University of Washington School of Public Health, and Founding Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto is internationally renowned as an expert on environmental health. He is a physician-scientist, specializing in occupational and environmental medicine and epidemiology. Previously, Dr. Hu was a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Channing Laboratory of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital (1988-2006), and the NSF International Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Professor of Environmental Health, Epidemiology & Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan (2006-2012). His work leading an international team of scientists has won a number of awards, including the 1999 US National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Progress and Achievement Award, the 2006 Harriett Hardy Award, the 2009 Linus Pauling Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the American Public Health Association, and the 2015 John R. Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.

Kim Mcgrail
Director and Principal Investigator

Kim McGrail (PA) is an Associate Professor in the UBC School of Population and Public Health, and provides expertise in managing big data infrastructure, specifically for confidential health data. She is the Scientific Director of Population Data BC and is PI on the major grants that fund its operations. She has twenty years of experience building and operating data linkage platforms and educating researchers and trainees about the potential of administrative data to address policy-relevant research questions, as well as about the appropriate uses of those data. Population Data BC includes person-specific data that extend well beyond health care, and is the data platform lead for the CIHR-funded BC SPOR SUPPORT Unit. Kim’s contributions in the area of privacy-sensitive governance of research data extend beyond BC as well, most significantly as a founding member of the International Population Data Linkage Network (www.ipdln.org). PopData was the network director for this group in 2013-2014 and Kim co-chaired the network’s international conference in Vancouver in April 2014.

Dave Stieb
Director and Principal Knowledge User

David Stieb, MD, is a Public Health Physician with Health Canada’s Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and member of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Ottawa. In addition to conducting primary research, including linking national administrative cohort data and exposure surfaces, and key systematic reviews and meta-analyses of epidemiological studies of air pollution and health, he has made notable contributions to knowledge translation, working with federal, provincial and municipal public health and NGO partners. These include acting as health science lead in the development of Canada’s Air Quality Health Index, a public health risk communication tool (www.airhealth.ca). He also co-developed the Air Quality Benefits Assessment Tool and other applications that translate knowledge to estimate the human health impacts and costs/benefits of changes in ambient air quality resulting from proposed regulatory or other initiatives.

Padmaja Subarrao
Director and Principal Investigator

Padmaja Subbarao (PA) has expertise in maternal, fetal, and child health. She is a Clinician Scientist and Respirologist at the Hospital for Sick Children and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She is Co-Director and Toronto Site Leader of the CHILD study. She has specific expertise in lung development and physiology and is a world recognized expert in Infant and Preschool lung function. As Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children, she has developed objective markers of lung disease to improve respiratory phenotyping of infants and children. This work has led to international recognition and opportunities to introduce novel phenotyping tools to North America. She has worked with Environmental Scientists both in and out of the CHILD study to look at the impact of the environment on child health, specifically lung health. Her work has been continuously funded by CIHR and AllerGen NCE to study the development of lung function in health and asthma and the impact of the environment.

Eleanor Setton
Managing Director

Eleanor Setton is the Managing Director of CANUE. As an Adjunct Associate Professor (2008- 2016), Eleanor most recently acted as Co-Director of the Spatial Sciences Research Lab (SSRL) at the University of Victoria. This role involved managing the SSRL grants, staff, and students, and conducting a range of research related to spatial aspects of exposure to environmental pollutants as a PI or Co-PI. Of particular value to CANUE is Dr. Setton’s expertise in population-level environmental exposure assessment; direct experience working with large spatial and tabular datasets related to land use, pollutant emissions and socio-economic characteristics; and developing knowledge translation products about cancer and the environment.

Specialists

Dany Doiron
Data Linkage Specialist

Dany is based at Maelstrom Research (MR) group at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. Dany has worked with a number of epidemiological research consortia in Canada and Europe, helping them implement innovative solutions to facilitate multi-centre data integration and co-analysis, and provides expertise on linking environmental data to confidential health databases for CANUE.

Andre Redivo
Geospatial Specialist

Andre has considerable expertise in the development and management of geospatial data. He developed national web-based applications for data analysis and visualization in Brazil. He developed and maintains the CANUE data browser and download site, and develops CANUE datasets.