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



Indigenous people face higher risk of transportation injuries in British Columbia
January 31, 2018Indigenous people in British Columbia suffered transportation-related injuries at a rate 1.89 times higher than the province’s total population between 1991 and 2010, a new University of B.C. study has found. Read More >

Do men’s toenails contain clues about prostate cancer prevention?
January 29, 2018A project analyzing men's toenails to find clues about prostate cancer prevention has been funded by Prostate Cancer Canada and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation. Photo credit: Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick Read More >

Peer health ambassador project for incarcerated men receives $1.3m funding
January 25, 2018A peer health ambassador project for incarcerated men co-developed by the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education has received $1.3 million in government funding. Read More >

SPPH faculty and students win at 50th anniversary of Postgraduate Public Health Training in Western Canada
January 19, 2018School of Population and Public Health faculty and students won several awards at the 50th anniversary of Postgraduate Public Health Training in Western Canada. Read More >

Meet Our Alumni: Lianping Ti, PhD
January 15, 2018If Lianping Ti looks familiar, it may be because she taught you biostatistics this year. A PhD program alumna, Dr. Ti once took the courses she now teaches with Senior Lecturer Mike Marin, and says she still sometimes refers to his YouTube videos for programming in R. Photo credit: V. Saran Photo Read More >

Retiring but not taking a brake: SPPH celebrates career of Professor Emeritus Kay Teschke
January 15, 2018Dr. Teschke celebrated her retirement last month after more than 30 years in occupational and environmental (OEH) health, and says she first realized the importance of the field while working in a pillow factory following her undergraduate studies. Credit: Martin Dee Read More >

Student Research: Looking into the risk of osteoarthritis after knee injuries
January 8, 2018Allison Ezzat's research will examine physical activity and health outcomes in female adolescents one to two years after ACL injury. Read More >

Professor Jean Shoveller appointed to CIHR Governing Council
January 5, 2018School of Population and Public Health Professor Jean Shoveller has been appointed to the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Governing Council. Read More >

Older patients and families could pay the price of slowing health care spending
January 2, 2018Canada and British Columbia are no exceptions to the worldwide trend of smaller increases to health-care spending. But the impacts of slowing growth in health-care spending should be examined, according to new research by Associate Professor Kimberlyn McGrail. Photo credit: StockSnap/Pixabay Read More >

Research Highlight: Saving lives through interventions that address pre-eclampsia
December 7, 2017Professor Joel Singer outlines how the Gates Foundation-funded CLIP cluster randomized controlled trial aims to save lives through community-level interventions that address pre-eclampsia. Photo credit: Pexels/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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