About Us

What are Population and Public Health?

Population and public health looks 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.

Co-directors’ Message

Welcome to the School of Population and Public Heath at the University of British Columbia!

Our School, bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Coast Mountains, and the vibrant city of Vancouver, provides a stimulating setting for research and learning. Our more than 350 students complete masters, doctorate, and residency programs investigating local and global health issues.

Our renowned 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.

Our School was established in 2008, and we look forward to the next decade so we can: continue to grow and develop, educate the next generation of public health scholars, and use our discoveries to improve the health of populations worldwide.

Professor Carolyn Gotay and Professor Chris Lovato, interim co-directors 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: Jane Buxton

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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



Vancouver Summer Program: changing perspectives, training future practitioners
August 11, 2017The Vancouver Summer Program wraps up this week, with 35 students from countries including China, South Korea and the Philippines, due to head home after an introduction to population and public health. Read More >

Student Research: Investigating Canadians’ abilities to access cancer screening
July 28, 2017School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) research is looking at how cancer screening rates differ across Canadian provinces to identify potential barriers to accessing these services. Read More >

SPPH post-doctoral fellows win Banting, MSFHR awards
July 26, 2017SPPH post-doctoral fellow Maryam Darvishian has won a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Trainee Award and post-doctoral fellow Travis Salway has won a 2016 – 17 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. Read More >

SPPH students and fellows win CIHR doctoral, postdoctoral awards
July 24, 2017School of Population and Public Health students and fellows have won Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral awards and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research fellowship. Read More >

Celebrating Health Research: Sharing SPPH stories
July 24, 2017Share your research in the Celebrating Health Research storybook compiled by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research! Professor Carolyn Gotay speaks about advocating for “hands on” approaches to cancer prevention. Read More >

Student Research: Identifying cancer trends in Northern Canada
July 19, 2017Despite cancer being the leading cause of death in Canada, it is still incompletely described in the Yukon and other territories in Northern Canada. Read More >

$6-million donation creates largest ever endowed scholarship at UBC
July 12, 2017The University of British Columbia has created its largest ever endowed scholarship, thanks to a $6-million donation from the Faculty of Medicine’s first two members — Constance Livingstone Friedman and Sydney Friedman. Read More >

Programs that teach emotional intelligence in schools have lasting impact
July 12, 2017Social and emotional learning programs for youth not only immediately improve mental health, social skills, and learning outcomes but also continue to benefit children years later, according to new research from UBC, University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University. Read More >

Build bikeways and they will come
July 11, 2017Cycling is a fun and healthy way to get to work, combining exercise and the great outdoors with a necessary trip. So what should cities keep in mind when it comes to getting people on their bikes? Credit: waferboard/flickr Read More >

PhD student Stephanie Lake wins 2017 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Doctoral Scholarship
July 5, 2017Doctoral student Stephanie Lake has won the 2017 Pierre Elliott Trudeau doctoral scholarship, the fourth School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) student to do so. 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 

UBC Directory
UBC Pt Grey Campus WayFinder
UBC Media Experts Guide
UBC Library


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