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.

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: 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



Dr. Jim Frankish to join Vancouver Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions
November 28, 2013The Task Force was created as part of efforts to address the crisis of severe, untreated mental illness in the city. (Photo: Jim Frankish) Read More >

2014 David Bates Memorial Lecture speaker announced
November 28, 2013Dr. Richard Jackson from the Fielding School for Public Health, UCLA will speak at Semiahmoo Conference on January 9, 2014 Read More >

Physical activity equivalent in cancer survivors and the population
November 22, 2013Cancer survivors have similar physical activity levels as those who have never had cancer. Read More >

School of Population and Public Health Admissions Information Session
November 22, 2013Learn about SPPH graduate programs and the admissions process. Read More >

A recipe for understanding cancer
November 20, 2013Most good science takes time. John Spinelli, a cancer epidemiologist, is on intimate terms with that hard truth. (Photo: Brian Kladko) Read More >

Four ways to fix mass transit in Metro Vancouver
November 19, 2013Lawrence Frank of UBC’s School of Population and Public Health believes that delaying transit improvements comes with a steep price. Photo: Jonathan Pope, Wikimedia Commons. Read More >

SPPH PhD student an “Emerging Leader” in Science
November 15, 2013PhD student Jacquelyn Cragg who received the Emerging Leader Award from Minerva Foundation's Women In™ Science program. Read More >

SPPH student wins Air & Waste Management Association award
November 15, 2013MSc-OEH student Annie Wang wins Best Student Presentation Award at PNWIS 2013 Read More >

UBC students investigating air quality in Quesnel
November 15, 2013The project looks at air quality in general, as well as temporal changes, year-round. Read More >

Dr. Michael Brauer selected to UN’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition scientific panel
November 14, 2013The CCAC, part of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is the first global project to treat short-lived climate pollutants as an international challenge. 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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