Message from Steven Hoffman

Dear colleagues,

I’m truly honoured to serve as the next Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH) and excited to work with you to advance population and public health (PPH) research in Canada and around the world. While my term as Scientific Director has only just begun, I wanted to reach out at this very early stage to share my initial thinking and plans for IPPH’s future.

In the short-term, my priority is to ensure the continued success of IPPH’s many ongoing efforts. I'm a researcher of public health institutions, so I know very well that institutions are more than just the people who work within them. That is why I plan to fully implement the excellent IPPH Strategic Plan (2015-2018) that was developed by the previous Scientific Director, Nancy Edwards, following broad consultations with the PPH community and approved by CIHR’s Science Council last November – bringing my own perspective and experience to shaping its implementation. I will also already be looking to develop IPPH's next strategic plan for beyond 2018 and I’ll be soliciting your input to make it as relevant and impactful as possible.

I have some initial ideas for strategic priorities. I am excited about the prospect of tapping into novel big data sources (e.g., “internet of things”), utilizing innovative methods from other fields (e.g., machine learning), creatively evaluating population health interventions (e.g., economic impact analyses), harnessing the power of the news media (e.g., improving literacy about population health), and pilot testing new mechanisms for translating PPH research into evidence-informed policies. I’m also very interested in supporting research on how we can design healthier cities (where 81% of Canadians now live), in the primary prevention of disease (before they take hold), and in identifying strategies for changing global governance arrangements to improve population health and health equity (especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us). But before finalizing any strategic priorities, I first want to learn more about the existing strengths and opportunities within our PPH research community on which we should definitely build. I look forward to hearing your ideas and crafting a shared plan for the future.

With this in mind, over the next six months I will be undertaking a “listening tour” to meet as many of you as possible and to learn how CIHR and IPPH can further support your work. In addition to helping established PPH researchers push their work to world-class status, I’m particularly interested in meeting with early-career investigators who are just launching their research programs, as well as social scientists in PPH who have faced challenges navigating CIHR. Finally, wearing my other hat as CIHR’s lead for global health, I hope to simultaneously confer with our country’s global health researchers to identify ways in which we can continue to enrich and grow this important area of inquiry.

In addition to the listening tour, over the coming months I will also be asking for your help in increasing public awareness and the general profile of PPH research. I plan to hit the pavement and meet with as many stakeholders as possible to demonstrate the importance and impact of our work. But I will need your support in this effort, whether that means helping to articulate the value we bring, writing an op-ed for your local newspaper, or building links with people who can act on your research. My personal goal is for us to collectively push the pendulum with sufficient force that it starts to swing in our favour by the time my term as Scientific Director ends. Please expect to hear more from me on this front and please email us at ipph-ispp@globalstrategylab.org if you’d like to get involved.

Before I conclude, I want to thank Nancy Edwards for her distinguished service as IPPH’s Scientific Director over the past eight years and as a long-standing leader of our PPH research community and global health champion. In taking the reins from her, I know that I have big shoes to fill. I appreciate the support that Nancy and her team have offered me during the transition period, and I look forward to celebrating Nancy’s many contributions at an appropriate time in the future.

One request: please forward this message throughout your networks and invite your colleagues to subscribe to this email list, as I hope to keep everyone abreast of news, developments and funding opportunities at CIHR and other agencies. Anyone can join our email list.

Thanks in advance,

Steven J. Hoffman BHSc JD MA PhD
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health

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