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O'Brien Institute Centres, Programs, Research Groups, and Units

Through a process of membership consultation, Research Groups of the O'Brien Institute for Public Health have been created to facilitate research activities within the Institute by concentrating within functional units its expertise and interest in the named topic. Key to the groups is member inclusivity and networking.

Research group development continues, and the intent is to retain the flexibility to accomodate future additions, mergers, etc. Further, the early activites of the groups will help to develop appropriate guidelines that strike the optimal balance between self-determination and Institute involvement.

Brenda Strafford Centre on Aging

The Brenda Strafford Centre on Aging aims to enhance the health of seniors and better inform public policy with regard to seniors’ issues through coordinated research, teaching and learning, and community outreach efforts.  The Centre will serve as an administrative and collaborative hub for University of Calgary aging research and interdisciplinary educational programming undertaken by the faculties of Kinesiology, Medicine, Nursing, Social Work and others as the Centre grows.

For more information or to join, please contact: 
Ann Toohey, Scientific Coordinator, Brenda Strafford Centre on Aging

Geography of Health and GIS Analysis

Health geography can help us to understand the variations of health determinants and health outcomes over space.  Spatial data analysis and research using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) contribute to population health and health services research in the fields of facility location, accessibility, diffusion, and many others.

Geographers recognize that spatial is special.  The GoH group intends to support geographic analysis within population health research by providing guidance on the tools and concepts that can be used to best analyze spatial data.  Integrating population health research with geographic knowledge improves the outcome of many population health research efforts, for example by substantially reducing the uncertainty of quantitative estimates.

Our group is focused on building active collaborations among researchers in different disciplines and health care organizations (e.g. Alberta Health Services).  The group conducts regular presentations, discussions, and provides research support when a geographic perspective is essential.

For more information or to join, please contact:
Stefania Bertazzon ( or Alka Patel (

Global Health

Global health research focuses on the transnational determinants of health and works across disciplines to address health inequalities both at home and abroad. The goal of the Global Health research group is to create linkages between individuals within the University of Calgary and at other Canadian Universities, and across disciplines to facilitate transdisciplinary collaboration on global health issues. We will serve as a hub for resources and best practices regarding Global Health, and can facilitate networking opportunities for those engaged in global health research.

For more information please visit the Global Health and International Partnerships website:
or Contact:
Jennifer Hatfield (

Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment

The Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment research group is focused on the development and application of health economics (HE) and health technology assessment (HTA) methods. HE/HTA aim to support resource allocation and priority setting decision making in health care and population health.

An active group seminar series enhances collaborative opportunities, and provides a forum for our trainees to present their work. A new training program in health economics will further our goal to support capacity building for HE/HTA needs locally, provincially and nationally.

Interested in joining?  Questions? Contact:
Braden Manns ( or Deborah Marshall (

Health Technology Assessment Unit

Who we are: At the HTA Unit, we are a team of dedicated health services researchers who are passionate about bridging the gap between science and policy.  Together, we offer a unique skill set in systematic reviews, health economics, program evaluation and research design and methodology.

Vision: To be a leader in supporting evidence-informed health policy with innovative and relevant research

Mission: To complete health technology assessments to  support evidence-informed health policy in Alberta; to use innovative research as a tool to integrate evidence into policy; to promote the flow of research to policy; and to create a receptive audience for evidence-informed health policy

Any questions or comments can be directed to:
Fiona Clement | Director | HTA Unit |

Health Policy Centre

The mission vested in the O’Brien Institute for Public Health is to catalyze excellence in population health and health services research, to the benefit of local, national and global communities. To that end, the formal launch and subsequent evolution of a Centre for Health Policy Studies within the O’Brien Institute for Public Health will serve three main aims:

  • Providing a central hub at the University of Calgary for scholarship on policies pertaining to both population health and health services (hereafter, health policy).
  • Increasing recognition for expertise, housed at the University of Calgary and in partnered organizations, regarding health policy
  • Enhancing opportunities to conduct and apply scholarship on health policy, by increasing the likelihood of securing peer-reviewed. research funding (e.g., CIHR, SSHRC, contracts from governmental and non-governmental organizations) and of success with fund development (naming donation, as well as project-specific requests to philanthropic foundations).

More information to come.

Indigenous Population Health

The Group for Research with Indigenous Peoples (GRIP) is a network of >130 health researchers and students, Indigenous community members and organizations, health systems providers and government agencies with a focus on the achievement of Indigenous Health. GRIP's mandate is to encourage population and public health research that mobilizes partners to  "help create, reinforce and sustain conditions conducive to healing, reconciliation and self-determination" (Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2009, p. 7).

GRIP promotes research practices that are holistic, informed by the determinants of population health and apply the best evidence in Indigenous health research. GRIP has active working relationships with local, regional, national, and international organizations to facilitate research networks and knowledge translation to policy and programming. GRIP hosts the Community Advisory Council, which includes community members who serve as liaisons to the broader community and who can advise on research processes including the handling of principles of ethical research (OCAP – Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession). To view the OCAP FAQ document, please  Click Here.

As part of their activities, the group hold an annual research forum (this year: May 9, 2017 - click here or more information), as well as a journal club entitled "Decolonizing Journal Club", which occurs the last Tuesday of each month.

Indigenous Health Research: Important  links and documents, please Click Here

For more information or to join, please contact: 
Cheryl Barnabe ( or David Turner (  

Mind and Brain - Public Health Perspectives

This research group is currently centered on three pillars:  “Public Mental Health” – in its traditional conception; the analysis of mental health implications of “Brain” diseases; and the burgeoning field of “Cognitive Health”. The group intends to promote the active collaboration primarily of Calgary/Alberta-based investigators alongside its three pillars, while building on University of Calgary’s research strengths and collaborating with the Mental Health Neuroteam in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. It facilitates interdisciplinary research activities with local partners (e.g., AHS), national bodies (e.g., Canadian Mental Health Commission) and international research institutions (e.g., NIH, ISCIII, CNRS, BMBF). The topic areas are left explicitly broad (comprising clinical psychiatry, epidemiology, clinical neuroscience, psychology, history, sociology and other allied fields). A strong emphasis is nevertheless placed on specific Calgary strengths in public health research of the “Mind and Brain” dimension.

The “Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education” of the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine serves as a crucial platform for some of our group’s work.

The group membership currently includes 36 faculty, researchers, professionals, etc, plus 21 graduate students and trainees. They span members from the Cumming School of Medicine, ACHRI, AHS, Faculty of Arts, EVDS, Faculty of Nursing, Werklund School of Education, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Recent events for the group includes:

Presentation titled: "Major Depression Epidemiology in Canada: Insights from Quantitative Data Synthesis" by Dr. Scott Patten at the O'Brien Institute & CHS Department Seminar Series on December 12, 2016:  (click here for full recording of the seminar)

Presentation titled: "Life course health and sequential trauma: a role for history of medicine" by Dr. Paul J. Weindling, Trust Research Professor in the History of Medicine, School of History, Philosophy and Culture, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom, as part of the 26th Annual History of Medicine Days Conference held on March 17&18, 2017 at the University of Calgary. (click here for full recording of the keynote address)

Interested in joining? Questions? Contact: 
Frank W. Stahnisch ( or Scott Patten (

For information on events, contact Donna Weich (

Patient and Community Engagement Research

Patient and Community Engagement Research (PACER) is a research training program within the O'Brien Institute at the University of Calgary. Through this intensive training program, PACER is works to engage patients in research, and to integrate this evidence-informed research into the health care system and clinical practice.

Population Health and Prevention

The Population Health and Prevention Research Group brings together over 50 O'Brien Institute members and affiliates, with diverse primary appointments: Cumming School of Medicine (Dept. of Pediatric, CHS, CRDS, PHPM, Mathison); Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; Faculty of Nursing; Faculty of Kinesiology; Faculty of Social Work; Werklund School of Education; Faculty of Arts (Anthropology, Communication) & Alberta Health Services (PPIH-SCN, MOH, Cancer Epidemiology), all with a strong interest in the area of population health, preventive medicine, and public health.

The group is currently working on their vision and establishing strategic priorities.

Interested in joining?  Questions? Contact: 
Jason Cabaj ( or Rebecca Haines-Saah (

The Methods Hub

The Methods Hub is focused on consolidating our individual and collective expertise across the spectrum of both quantitative and qualitative research methods and building capacity where it may be lacking. Methodologically-based research can be a strong foundation for researchers wishing to engage in high profile and rigorous applied population and health services research. The group conducts regular presentations, discussion, and writing of manuscripts and grants.


For more information or to join, please contact:
Danielle Southern (, Maria Santana ( or Hude Quan (

The Office of Health & Medical Education Scholarship (OHMES)

OHMES aims to provide support to aspiring and established scholars of health and medical education.  Effective and innovative teaching needs to be grounded in sound educational scholarship, which encompasses both research and innovation in the education of health professionals.


University of Calgary Biostatistics Centre

The Centre groups the collective activities of all biostatisticians at the University of Calgary. Since the summer of 2014, this group of over
25 biostatisticians has been successful in achieving a number of important research and educational goals: (1) cross-listing of graduate courses in applied biostatistics in the faculties of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Kinesiology, Science and Cumming School of Medicine; (2) creation of thesis-based degree interdisciplinary specializations in Biostatistics (Master’s, Doctoral) expected to be offered in the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics in the Fall of 2018; (3) organization of three one-day biostatistics workshops on the topics of missing and incomplete data, causal inference and longitudinal data analysis; and (4) awarded a Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) Health Sciences Collaborating Centre designation

Current activities of this group are: (1) creation of a non-thesis Master’s program in Biostatistics (new graduate program); (2) summer school in Biostatistics; and (3) networking group for consulting and collaborating UCBC members.

For more information, please contact:
Executive Committee members: Herman Barkema ( , Rob Deardon (, Tyler Williamson ( or Karen Kopciuk (

 W21C Research and Innovation Centre

A centre within the O'Brien Institute, W21C is a not-for-profit research and innovation initiative based in the University of Calgary and the Calgary zone of Alberta Health Services. W21C serves as a research and beta test-site for prototypical hospital design, novel approaches to health care delivery, human factors research, and innovative medical technologies.


Upcoming Events

Date & Time:
May 26, 2017 | 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Date & Time:
May 17, 2017 | 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm

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To catalyze excellence in population health and health services research, to the benefit of local, national, and global communities