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U of G post-doctoral fellow among first CIHR Health System Impact Fellows

A University of Guelph post-doctoral fellow is among the recipients of a new award designed to give health research trainees hands-on work experience. 

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced a $5.8 million investment this week that will support a new model of training for health services researchers. 

Dr. Salah Uddin Khan, a post-doctoral fellow in Prof. Amy Greer’s lab at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary CollegeDr. Salah Uddin Khan, a post-doctoral fellow in Prof. Amy Greer’s lab at the U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College, is one of 46 PhD graduates across the country who will receive the first awards funded through a new program developed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute for Health Services and Policy Research and the Canadian Health Services and Policy Research Alliance.

“Our investment in the program represents one of our Government’s efforts to both train and keep our best and brightest researchers right here at home. It will help rethink the traditional model of workplace integration for PhD students across the country. It will no doubt have an effect on improving health services for Canadians in the future,” says Petitpas Taylor.

The Health System Impact Fellowship (HSIF) and Training Modernization Start-Up Grant programs give trainees experiential learning opportunities in health care organizations where they will bring new ideas and innovative approaches to tackle the complex challenges these organizations are facing. 

The program is a collaboration between CIHR, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, Mitacs, and 36 health system partners and 17 universities across Canada. 

Khan will work with Dr. Nicholas Ogden, Public Health Agency of Canada: National Microbiology Laboratory, and Greer to develop a suite of disease transmission models to simulate the transmission of exotic mosquito-borne diseases in Canada, using Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) as an example. Modeling outcomes will contribute to an improved understanding of the future public health impact of CHIKV, allow for a systematic examination of health interventions and quantify the resources required to manage the emergence of CHIKV. 

“I am very excited to work with Drs. Ogden and Greer. Both are highly regarded within the scientific community for their research on vector-borne diseases and infectious disease dynamics.,” says Khan. “The fellowship will enable us to conduct research on a significant public health issue and translate the findings to policies and programs to promote and protect public health in Canada."

Many vector-borne diseases from tropical and sub-tropical regions are likely introduced into Canada by returning infected travelers, explains Khan. With climate change, transmission within Canada will become more likely. Developing a rigorous scientific framework for examining the risk of disease introduction and spread is critical for Canadian public health planning.

“The outcomes will enable us to assess the risk of locally-sustained transmission of exotic mosquito-borne viruses and the efficacy of interventions,” adds Khan.