SPPH Exchange

Registration is now open – click here to register.

Ethics in the Era of Big Data

March 23rd, 2018
1:00 – 6:00 pm

The day will commence with a series of participatory workshops and a keynote speech.

The Exchange will finish with a student social and poster session which will offer all SPPH students and alumni the opportunity to showcase and receive feedback on any practicum or research work (proposed, in progress or completed). Posters submitted previously to other conferences are eligible. Expert faculty members and external reviewers, including members of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, will be present to provide feedback to students. Submissions are strongly encouraged – submit via the registration link above. A number of small prizes for the best posters will be awarded on the day.

Poster submission deadline: March 16th

All SPPH and interdisciplinary students, alumni, faculty, and affiliates are invited to attend the SPPH Exchange.

Keynote speech:

Diego S. Silva
‘Who’s Afraid of the Big (Bad) Data? Ethical and Political Considerations’
Michael Smith Laboratories Room 102

Keynote Speaker
Diego S. Silva, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University;

Diego joined the Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University in September 2015 as Assistant Professor specializing in bioethics and public health ethics. He completed his PhD at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and his MA in philosophy, both at University of Toronto. Prior to his appointment at SFU, Diego was a Scientist at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health (CRICH) at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and was also a Research Fellow at the Hannover Medical School in Hannover, Germany. In 2017, he helped write and was a co-lead editor of the World Health Organization’s Ethics Guidance for the Implementation of the End TB Strategy. Diego’s main research currently focuses on ethical and political challenges related to infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis.


Schedule of Events

Time Event Venue
12:00-1:00 Registration SPPH Lobby
1:00-2:00 Keynote Speech
Who’s Afraid of the Big (Bad) Data? Ethical and Political Considerations
Michael Smith Laboratories Room 102
2:00-2:30 Coffee and tea break SPPH Lobby
2:30-4:00 Workshops

Gender and Sex Differences in Population Health (and, can we advance our understanding of these differences using ‘big’ data?)
Presenter: Mieke Koehoorn, Professor, SPPH


This presentation will share examples from population health research where accounting for sex and gender differences revealed significant discoveries in health outcomes. Every cell is sexed and every person is gendered – the evidence we generate may be incomplete or incorrect if we do not take this into account, with missed opportunities to improve prevention and treatment at a population health level. The second part of this presentation will discuss the ability to account for gender and related constructs in ‘big’ data research.

Meta-analytic intersectionality: Exploring the elevated risk of suicide at the intersections of gender and sexual identity
Presenter: Travis Salway, Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Meta-analysis is a powerful tool that increases statistical power and allows for the exploration of heterogeneity between individual empirical studies. Social epidemiologists can use this tool to clarify social patterns in this distribution of disease that may not be apparent within individual studies. This talk will review the application of meta-analysis as part of a systematic review of suicide-related outcomes within sexual minority (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual) samples. In this case, data pooling, stratification, and meta-regression illustrate moderation of the association between bisexual identity and suicide risk by gender.

Children’s Voices: Not Just “Boy” or “Girl”: An Overview of HELP”s Process to Change the Way We Ask About Gender Identity
Presenter: Lisa Pedrini, MDI National Scale-Out Project Manager, Human Early Learning Partnership


This school year, HELP collected data from over 36,000 children in BC and other parts of Canada. For the 2017-18 school year, HELP has changed the way it asks children about their gender on the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). Lisa will outline the process HELP undertook to arrive at the wording for the new question, including a pilot project and a brief mention of the research found to be most helpful.

Presenters: Kimberlyn McGrail, Associate Professor, SPPH
Diego Silva, Assistant Professor, Simon Fraser University
Colene Bentley, ‎Health Services Researcher, BC Cancer Agency


The world of data-oriented research is changing rapidly – data types, availability, the tools to analyze them, and the ability to start to address complex social questions using data are all vastly different than they were even a decade ago. It is hard to predict what the future might hold, but certainly it will be different from the past. The data researchers use are all about individuals and/or the communities and contexts in which they live, so it is more than reasonable to think that people represented in those data can and should have some say in how they are used. The question is how to harness the public’s voice and then how to use public recommendations to inform policy. This workshop will use a combination of short talks and discussion to shed some light on possible paths forward.


  1. SPPH B104
  2. SPPH 491
4:00-4:30 Break SPPH Lobby
4:00-6:00 Social and Poster Session SPPH Lobby
6:00-8:00 Post-Exchange social Mahoney and Sons


This event is sponsored by The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, the Graduate Student Society (GSS) and hosted by The Association of Population and Public Health Students (TAPPHS). It will serve as a networking opportunity to connect previous and current population and public health students, professionals, and SPPH faculty members. Afternoon tea, wine and cheese, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages will be complimentary but pre-registration is essential.

For more information, please contact tapphs.ubc@gmail.com.