About Us

What are Population and Public Health?

Population and public health look at the big picture.

Rather than treating one patient at a time, public health works to find what causes disease and health issues, and then finds solutions for a community as a whole. Examples of public health measures range from Dr. John Snow removing a pump handle to stop the spread of cholera through contaminated water in London, to obesity prevention programs, policies to improve the cost-effectiveness and patient outcomes of health services, healthy city design, social and emotional learning programs for children, and asbestos removal from homes and workplaces.

As the Public Health Agency of Canada describes, public health “is the organized effort of society to keep persons healthy and prevent injury, illness and premature death. It is a combination of programs, services & policies that protect and promote the health of all Canadians.”

Population health focuses on specific populations, or communities, looking at the broad range of factors that influence health, called ‘social determinants.’ These factors include things like economic status, early childhood development, gender, and social structure. The World Health Organization refers to these as the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.

Our School has a strong history in population and public health

From faculty and students working on the front lines of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, to those working on the overdose crisis here in British Columbia, to researching the deadly effects of air pollution, and investigating the cost and benefits of universal coverage for pharmaceuticals, our faculty, students, and staff work every day to help everyone achieve their best possible health, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn.

Director’s Message

Dr. Peter Berman

Welcome to the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia! As a new arrival myself to UBC and Vancouver, I am delighted to share with you my excitement and enthusiasm for our school, university, and field of study.

Our School, bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Coast Mountains, and the vibrant city of Vancouver, provides a beautiful and stimulating setting for research, learning, and action to improve the public’s health. More than 350 students complete masters, doctorates, and residency programs investigating local and global health issues. Our excellent faculty study diverse issues such as preventing and controlling epidemics, designing healthy cities, understanding health needs of distinct communities such as Indigenous peoples and sexual minorities, and investigating and improving the effectiveness of health systems. We are fortunate to dedicate ourselves to improving human well-being at the intersection of knowledge and social change.

SPPH is noting its tenth anniversary as a school, having been established in 2008.  The coming years will be filled with dynamic opportunities to grow and develop, educate the next generation of public health scholars and activists, and use our discoveries to improve the health of populations worldwide. Come on in and learn more about us!

Dr. Peter Berman of the School of Population and Public Health


  • 2008The School is created by the UBC Senate
  • 2009The inaugural strategic plan is released
  • 2010The School moves to own building at 2206 East Mall
  • 2011The School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (SOEH) merges with School
  • 2012Several centres and units, such as Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, the Human Early Learning Partnership, the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, and Population Data BC become part of the School.
  • 2014The Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health is created.


Looking for policies, forms or committee information?

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The School is organized in four Divisions, each acting as a nexus for SPPH faculty who share common research and interests, and also for internal governance and accountability.

Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Public Health Practice

This Division addresses the fundamentals and practice of biostatistics and epidemiology, and contributes to the understanding of the etiology and prevention of disease through excellence in research. It also integrates public health teaching, research and practice with a focus on improving well-being and preventing disease at a population level.

Division head: Jacek Kopec

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Health in Populations

This Division addresses population health perspectives on improving the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples, women, children, youth and their families; and, the determinants of population health, including social, biological, and developmental forces, throughout the life course from birth to death.

Division head: Patricia Spittal

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Health Services and Policy

The Health Services and Policy Division addresses the organization, regulation, accessibility, utilization, and allocation of health care resources, and the resulting costs and health effects.

Division head: Boris Sobolev

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Occupational and Environmental Health

This Division focuses on health effects and prevention measures related to chemical, physical, biological, and psychosocial hazards, and to the design of buildings, workplaces and communities.

Division head: Mieke Koehoorn

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Our Strategic Plan

Dowload our Strategic Plan

SPPH Events

Grand Rounds
Grand Rounds, the School’s monthly seminar series, runs during the academic year. Presenters include faculty, students, staff, and guest speakers, who share new and innovative research, and current issues in population and public health.

OEH Seminars
The best of current research in the Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (OEH) field is presented at these weekly seminars. Attendance is mandatory for MSc OEH students.

UBC Learning Circle
UBC Learning Circle is a partnership between UBC’s Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health (CEIH) and the First Nations Health Authority. Attendance is by video conference or online webinar. Pre-registration is required.

News and Newsletters



Shannon Charney named new Senior Administrator, School of Population and Public Health
August 30, 2018Ms Shannon Charney joined the School on August 27th, and comes to us from the University of Alberta where she has been for the last 8 years as the Assistant Chair – Administration, supporting two departments within the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. Having worked within both municipal and provincial (BC) government levels, as well […] Read More >

Peter Berman appointed Director, School of Population and Public Health
August 29, 2018Welcome to Dr. Peter Berman who will begin his tenure as Director on January 1, 2019. Read More >

SPPH researchers part of $43 million CIHR funding
March 14, 2018University of British Columbia researchers, including School of Population and Public Health faculty, have been awarded $43m for 65 projects through Canadian Institutes for Health Research Project Grants. Image credit: CIHR IPPH Read More >

Get involved with the SPPH Exchange 2018
March 9, 2018The SPPH Exchange is a student organized event held annually and featuring a keynote speech, workshops, and a poster and networking session. Here's why you should get involved. Read More >

New UBC public health program will train Indigenous health leaders
March 1, 2018A new public health program offered at the University of British Columbia aims to address health inequities by training Indigenous health leaders working in communities across the country. Photo credit: Faculty of Medicine/Martin Dee Read More >

SPPH students win best presentation and poster at Cascadia conference
February 26, 2018SPPH students Andrea Jones and Kyle Meeking won the best oral presentation and poster at the recent Cascadia Occupational, Environmental and Population Health conference. Read More >

Key Canadian health policy challenges include sustained poor health outcomes for Indigenous populations: analysis
February 23, 2018An analysis of Canada's health-care system has highlighted three key health policy challenges, including sustained poor health outcomes for Indigenous populations. Read More >

Canadians giving up food, heat to pay for prescription drugs: UBC study
February 13, 2018More than 900,000 Canadians reduced their spending on basic necessities like food and heat to pay for prescription drugs in 2016, according to new research by a team from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, McMaster University, and The University of Toronto. Photo credit: Charles Williams/Flickr. This image has been cropped. Read More >

Meet Our Alumni: Rod Knight, MSc
February 8, 2018Rod Knight has been called a "superstar" Early Career Researcher by his supervisor Professor Jean Shoveller, and says mentorship opportunities helped him on the road to research success. Read More >

Vancouver part of multi-million dollar Healthy Cities project
February 6, 2018Vancouver is one of 10 cities in a multi-million dollar partnership to investigate how to develop cities to equitably support healthier lives, whilst also protecting the planet. Photo credit: gtriay/Pixabay Read More >

Contact Our Staff and Faculty

Academic Program Contact Information

MHA Program email Phone: 604 822-2366
MHSc Program email Phone: 604 822-5405
MPH Program email Phone: 604 822-9207
MSc Program email Phone: 604 822-5405
MSc OEH Program contact Phone: 604 822-2827
PhD Program email Phone: 604 822-5405
Residency Program email Phone: 604 822-7646

SPPH Contact Information

Faculty Directory
Staff Directory

More Contact Information 

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UBC Media Experts Guide
UBC Library


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