New centre receives $4 million to focus on public health

By Sue Johnston, May 17, 2007

    Associate professor Helen Thomas leads the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools along with professor Donna Ciliska. Photo courtesy of FHS.
McMaster University has been chosen as the site for one of six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health established as part of a major federal government initiative to improve public health in Canada.

The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT), hosted by the Faculty of Health Sciences, is part of an undertaking by the Public Health Agency of Canada to increase the expertise available and ensure that research and knowledge about public health issues are converted into action.

The centre at McMaster, announced today, is being led by Helen Thomas, an associate professor, and Donna Ciliska, a professor in the School of Nursing. It is being funded through 2009 by more than $4 million from the federal government.

"Research into the public health of Canadians and how it can be improved is exploding, but in order for that research to benefit the population, the results have to be communicated in an efficient, effective way to our decision-makers and the public," said Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

"This new centre is a mutually-beneficial initiative for the government and McMaster, given our expertise in evidence-based medicine, health technology assessment and the analysis and development of health policy."

Thomas said the main purpose of the new centre is to enhance evidence-informed public health policy and practice in Canada. The centre will work to identify, develop and promote the processes that can be used by various organizations to translate, share and put into practice relevant research and knowledge related to public health.

"The NCCMT will oversee the provision of, and improve access to relevant methods and tools to transform knowledge into a user-friendly format for public health stakeholders involved in policy-making, program decisions, practice and research in Canada," she said.

The NCCMT will work in collaboration with the other five NCCs that have been established across the country. The other centres each focus on a specific public health issue, including environmental health, infectious disease, healthy public policy, social determinants of health and aboriginal health.

The centres will build partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, including government agencies, academic and health care institutions, international experts, researchers and health professionals, as they work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Canada's public health system.

All share the goals of facilitating the sharing and translating of knowledge into practice at all levels of the public health system.