Sept. 18, 2023

Advancing public health through research excellence

The O'Brien Institute for Public Health strategic plan, 2022-2027, extended version
Extended strategic plan

Dear O'Brien Institute community,

We are thrilled to present the extended version of the O'Brien Institute for Public Health's strategic plan. This visionary roadmap embodies our commitment to advancing public health on multiple fronts, guided by an expansive perspective of what "public health" truly entails.

In the realm of health, the definition of public health extends beyond the conventional boundaries of disease prevention and epidemiology. It encompasses the holistic well-being of individuals and populations, embracing health systems and services, health policy, preventive health measures, and the intricate interplay of social determinants of health. At the O'Brien Institute for Public Health, we embrace this multifaceted understanding of public health and champion research that addresses its myriad dimensions.

One of the distinguishing features of the O'Brien Institute is its commitment to an evidence-informed stance on policy issues. It champions the concept of "health in all policies," advocating for a collaborative approach that integrates health considerations into policymaking across various sectors to enhance the well-being of all communities and individuals. 

In 2022, the O'Brien Institute launched its Centre for Health Policy, a pivotal initiative aimed at developing evidence-informed policy options for decision-makers. Furthermore, the institute frequently facilitates meetings between government officials and its researchers to share expertise, present findings, and engage in discussions regarding the potential impacts of policy decisions.

The O'Brien Institute has been a proactive force in informing both government and the public on numerous high-profile topics, including municipal water fluoridation, cannabis legalization policies, harm reduction strategies such as supervised consumption sites, universal basic income, and health care sustainability. While the institute refrains from taking positions on policies, it actively fosters public discourse, providing platforms for diverse perspectives to be heard. As an academic diplomatic agent, the O'Brien Institute is dedicated to nurturing respectful dialogue, offering the best available scientific evidence, and learning from the community.

Through formal reports, events, and consultations, the institute bridges gaps and fosters dialogue and information exchanges across sectors, disciplines, and perspectives. Our ultimate goal is to facilitate collaboration among academic scholars, health practitioners, citizens, governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations when collective action is required to address public health challenges.

Our institute is not just an academic institution; it is a dynamic nexus of knowledge, experience, and innovation. With more than 1,000 cross-campus University of Calgary faculty, trainees, postdoctoral scholars, experienced health system professionals, and engaged community partners, the O'Brien Institute is a vibrant community of changemakers. Together, we are a formidable force, ready to tackle the complex health challenges of our time.

Despite our relatively short history, our track record speaks volumes. We have consistently matched, and often led the way among the Cumming School of Medicine’s seven research institutes in securing peer-reviewed funding awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, an accolade that represents the national 'gold standard' for health-related research in Canada. This success underscores our members' exceptional talent, dedication, and national reputation. 

Yet, it is not just the accolades and funding awards that define us; it is our steadfast commitment to societal improvement that sets us apart. Our research is not an end in itself; it is a means to a transformative goal - the betterment of society. Our members pride themselves on conducting research that is not just scientifically rigorous but is also deeply motivated by the desire to create positive, real-world change.  To solidify this commitment this Fall, the O'Brien Institute will launch its Health Equity HUB, a transformative initiative aimed at mobilizing health equity research to drive innovative changes in policy and practice.

As we unveil this extended strategic plan, we reflect proudly on the achievements made during our first decade. Soon, the O’Brien Institute will welcome a new Scientific Director, and as we prepare for this next step, we look to the future with even greater ambition and purpose. The O'Brien Institute is uniquely positioned to be a driving force at the intersection of society and academia, where ground-breaking research converges with the urgent needs of our communities. Our strategic plan outlines the path forward, highlighting our commitment to fostering innovation, collaboration, and equity in all aspects of public health.

In the pages of our strategic plan, you will find a roadmap that charts our course for the coming years. It outlines our strategic priorities, our vision for impact, and the values that underpin everything we do. It is a testament to our collective dedication to building a healthier, more equitable future for all.

Together, we have the power to unlock a healthier future. Together, we can drive change that will reverberate far beyond the walls of academia. We invite you to join us on this journey, as we embark on a mission to transform public health, leveraging a membership full of innovative ideas, research projects, and meaningful relationships.

To all of our members and partners, thank you for your participation, support, and dedication. Together, we can make a profound difference in the world, advancing public health through research excellence.

Read the version of the O'Brien Institute 2022-2027 strategic plan here

Read the overview here