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.


  • 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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Director’s Message

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia, located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) People. Our School’s students, staff and faculty are deeply committed to improving health at home and abroad. We are tremendously proud of our innovative research, education of health leaders, and wide-reaching impact across disciplines.

I am thrilled you are interested in learning more about who we are and what we do.

Who We Are

This year, we are engaged in an exciting process of strategic planning and direction setting for the coming years. Our vision “Healthier People in a Healthier World” reminds us to care for health at many levels – individuals, families, communities, our province, our nation, our planet. We are developing exciting initiatives for new discovery, transformational learning, and population and public health impact as we craft a dynamic and satisfying community of scholars, learners, and team members in support of our exciting mission.

One of our School’s greatest strengths is our interdisciplinary approach to health. Within our faculty and graduate programs we welcome individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, from health economics to clinical medicine, social epidemiology and more. I am confident that anyone with an interest in improving health outcomes and a desire to address health inequities will find a home at SPPH.

Many of our faculty members are also involved in leadership roles, including as advisors to governments and within public health authorities, non-profits, hospitals, and research organizations. Our graduates follow this tradition of excellence, and we are very proud of their many accomplishments in public service, academia, and industry.

We also take our role in addressing discrimination and systemic inequities as a social determinant of health very seriously, and welcome those who seek to pursue research in these areas.

The School of Population and Public Health draws on extraordinary resources from diverse fields of study to inform the next generation of public health professionals, researchers, and advocates. Engaging our world-class faculty, students, and staff, we transform ground-breaking research into health solutions.

What Matters to Us

The current global pandemic has forcefully reminded us that population and public health has never been more relevant to our society, locally and globally. Our School and UBC more broadly is home to much of the province’s important research on infectious diseases, including COVID-19. We also are proud to have many of those involved in developing British Columbia’s COVID-19 modelling and strategy as faculty within our school.

Many of our faculty work on other urgent issues in population and public health, including the effects of climate change on health, the deep health inequities in societies,  the overdose crisis, health care systems reform, and improving our ability to measure, detect, and address social and economic health determinants. We pay special attention to closing the gap to meet the needs of marginalized and disadvantaged populations.

Join Us

As the Director of the School of Population and Public Health, I have found an exciting environment of excellence and ambition to make the world a better place. Our School recently noted its tenth anniversary and celebrated its birthday by being named one of the top global universities for social sciences and public health in 2019. We are fast becoming a destination where students obtain the best public health education in the world; and where faculty collaborate on solving today’s local, national and international public health issues. As we move into our School’s second decade, we will continue to expand our global presence and grow and engage with new and existing collaborators and partners.

We have several education programs to help you reach your next career milestone, whether you are an undergraduate student looking for the next step or a professional looking to develop new skills. Reach out to our education team and find out how you can join our community. We also post new career opportunities on our Jobs page as they come available.

I also want to invite you to join us at our events. We have regular Voices in Health seminars that are online for the coming year, and many units within our School host their own webinar series.

The School of Population and Public Health is grateful to be part of the Faculty of Medicine and the University of British Columbia and for the support of our donors, collaborators, partners and friends. To support our work, please consider contributing to the Future of Public Health Fund. With your continued support, we look forward to the next ten years and beyond!

To contact Dr. Berman, please email executive.assistant@spph.ubc.ca

Dr. Peter Berman CV

SPPH Leadership


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: Ying MacNab

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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: Arminee Kazanjian (Interim)

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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.

SPPH’s Strategic Framework for 2020-2025 is presented below.

View upcoming and previous OEH Seminars

Division head: Chris McLeod

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Our Strategic Plan

The School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) is developing a new strategic plan. The strategic planning process began in Summer 2019 with key stakeholder interviews among students, faculty and staff. These were followed by a small group retreat, which resulted in a draft Strategic Framework that has guided our subsequent strategic planning. Engagement with the School community continued throughout the first half of 2020, and culminated in a virtual retreat in September and October 2020 to which the whole community, including all faculty, staff, and student representatives were invited. SPPH will release a draft strategic plan consultation in early 2021. More information will come as it is available.


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.

Global Health
Global Health events at SPPH bring expert and diverse multidisciplinary speakers from across UBC to share their expertise on global health equity and related topics. Events run throughout the academic year and provide students with opportunities to enrich their global health learning.

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


To send feedback on our website, e-mail the Senior Communications Specialist.

News and Newsletters



CEIH Recruitment – Pollock
December 3, 2020Place-based knowledge in Indigenous health and rural health services. Join us for the public seminar on Wed, Dec 9 at 1pm PST Read More >

BC Covid 19 Symposium
November 26, 2020While British Columbia’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in better public health outcomes than in many jurisdictions, the long-term psychological, socio-economic, and health impacts remain unknown. In September 2020, over 80 BC researchers, administrators, funders, and patient representatives came together to organize a virtual COVID-19 Symposium to raise awareness of the […] Read More >

Shared Approaches to Indigenous Health Services Research
November 26, 2020Shared Approaches to Indigenous Health Services Research Read More >

Graduate Program Information Sessions
November 25, 2020Join us on our next online information session to learn more about the SPPH graduate programs. Next info session: Wednesday, December 9 and Friday, December 11 Read More >

Congratulations SPPH Graduates!
November 24, 2020Congratulations to all SPPH Fall 2020 graduates! Read More >

Mixed Methods Presentation: Dr. Devon Greyson
November 19, 2020Dr. Devon Greyson on Improving Population Health Information Interventions via Mixed Methods Research. Read More >

Voicing Silent Genomes
November 18, 2020Genomic information is used in medical research and in making decisions about health care treatment. Despite the importance of having genomic information that is specific to the population, there has been a paucity of genomic research done with Indigenous populations in Canada, affecting the ability of health care providers to make informed decisions and exacerbating […] Read More >

Staff Spotlight: Elizabeth Samuels
November 17, 2020Elizabeth Samuels, SPPH's Communications Specialist, tells stories about the people and research that sets SPPH apart. Read More >

Mixed Methods Presentation: Dr. Rod Knight
November 12, 2020Mixed methods, health equity, and youth: Advancing innovation in the population and public health sciences. Read More >

MPH Practicum Awardees
October 27, 2020Check out the four awardees for their outstanding presentation and their work at the Practicum Showcase Read More >