Jan. 12, 2021

2020 O’Brien award winners tackle public health challenges amid global pandemic

This year’s awardees are working at the forefront of the most pressing public health issues facing society today.
O'Brien award winners 2020
O'Brien award winners 2020

For their work toward creating meaningful change in public and population health, and outstanding contributions to health research, four O’Brien Institute researchers are being recognized with the 2020 O’Brien Institute Awards.

Institute scientific director Dr. Tom Stelfox, MD, says this year’s awardees are working at the forefront of the most pressing public health issues facing society today.  

“Drs. Niven, Kaplan, Larson and Williamson highlight the incredible research and knowledge translation that Institute members are leading to improve public health,” he said.

Dr. Daniel Niven, MD - O’Brien Institute Emerging Research Leader Award

Daniel Niven received the 2020 O’Brien Institute Emerging Research Leader Award, in part due to his expertise in knowledge translation to improve evidence-informed care for patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Traditional knowledge translation research, whether applied or theoretical, focuses on implementation of high-value care and new medical practices that improve patient outcomes. Niven’s research uniquely focuses on de-implementation (reduction or removal) of low-value care, and outdated medical practices that do not benefit patients.

Dr. Gilaad Kaplan, MD - O’Brien Institute Mid-Career Research Leader Award

Gil Kaplan has received the 2020 O’Brien Institute Mid-Career Research Leader Award. Kaplan is widely recognized as an international leader in the global epidemiology of IBD for his acclaimed work in identifying paradigm-shifting epidemiologic patterns in digestive diseases over the past century. He led a research team that defined the rising incidence of IBD in the Western world during the 20th century (Gastroenterology, 2012, PMID: 22001864). This landmark study, for which he received the Classic Citation Award, has been cited >3,700 times in Google Scholar since its publication.

Dr. Bonnie Larson, MD - O’Brien Institute Societal Impact Award

Bonnie Larson has received the 2020 O’Brien Institute Societal Impact Award, in recognition of her contributions during the past year in bringing awareness, outreach, advocacy and providing clinical care to people who use drugs and who are at high risk for overdose death.

As lead for Street CCRED (Community Capacity in: Research, Education, and Development) at the O’Brien Institute, Larson has made significant contributions by identifying the urgent public health implications of provincial policies impacting harm reduction programs and supervised consumption sites (SCS) and the need to engage service providers and community stakeholders in developing local responses.

Under the banner of the Calgary Overdose Prevention and Education initiative (C.O.P.E.) commencing in the spring of 2019, Dr. Larson led partners from Street CCRED’s community of practice, local community advocates, and people who use drugs in mobilizing to prevent overdose deaths and to respond to harmful government policy changes.

Dr. Tyler Williamson, PhD - Lynn McIntyre Outstanding Service Award 

Tyler Williamson has been awarded the 2020 Lynn McIntyre Outstanding Service Award  for significant contributions of time, talent and leadership to the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, through commitment, unparalleled goodwill and generosity, and by stepping forward to support Calgary during the biggest public health crisis of our time.

Since the start of the pandemic, Williamson and his team at the Cumming School of Medicine Centre for Health Informatics have informed municipal and provincial policy surrounding COVID-19.

Photo credit for Tyler Williamson via Copyright Avenue Magazine, Jared Sych