McMaster University

McMaster University

Health Policy PhD Students

The Health Policy PhD students are listed alphabetically.


Sultana Al-Sabahi

Sultana Al-Sabahi Sultana Al-Sabahi is under the supervision of Mike Wilson. Sultana received her BHSc Honours degree in 2009 from Sultan Qaboos University. In 2013 she obtained a MSc degree Cum Laude in Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, from Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman. Her doctoral research interests focus on supporting decision makers with priorty setting in health systems, in particular understanding the role of local and global evidence in setting priorities. Previous research focused on comprehensive health assessment of elderly people, including models to predict functional impairment, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly. Prior to beginning her PhD studies in Health Policy, Sultana worked at Ministry of Health in Sultanate of Oman in the Center of Studies and Research. In that role, she was involved in developing research priorities for the Ministry, including the development of the 2050 vision for health research and constructing the guideline of health research funding. She was also involved in training health professionals on different research methods, including statistical analysis. Currently, her dissertation project is exploring: how to establish a policy-support unit?

Hussam Albugami

Hussam Albugami Hussam Albugami is being co-supervised by John Lavis and Arthur Sweetman. Albugami obtained his Master’s degree in public health studies with health policy and management department at Bloomberg School of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University (2016). He has received mentorship and supervision from Edyth Schoenrich and Donald Steinwachs and worked in two researches under their guidance titled “Cost effectiveness analysis of reducing inpatient waiting time and expenses for their medical procedures” and “Rehabilitation Patient Group system” that motivated him to pursue the field of health policy and health economics in more depth. His research interests include cost effectiveness of health care systems and effect change in implementing health policies as to contribute to the augmentation of health status worldwide. Prior to that he worked with the Saudi Arabian government for health promotion, serving seventeen cities with differing cultures to create awareness (2014). Albugami is a physician who graduated from faculty of medicine in King Abdulaziz University (2012) and worked as teaching assistant in the public health and community medicine department there for two years. He taught the community medicine course and field experience course for 4th-year and 6th-year medical students. While completing his MD degree, he trained as intern doctor for one year at King Abdulaziz University Hospital and department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health at McGill University (2012-2013). He was accepted as a representative of his country for a United Nations Academy in New York in 2015. He contributed with Ministry of National Guard in Saudi in a research project called “Your Health is Our Interest”. This research aimed at targeting the early
recognition of risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, and promoted the assessment and education of appropriate interventions. The project targeted over 10,000 populations and utilized the Framingham Criteria for the identification of risk factors. His research experiences included a retrospective cohort study of teaching evidence-based medicine: a student-selected component at the faculty of medicine, KAU (2009-2013) and Knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward patient safety among medical students in Saudi Arabia (2013). Albugami will be working on the cost reduction project research regarding hospital wait times and avoidable hospitalization in health care systems.

Ahmed Ali

Ahmed AliAhmed Ali is under the supervision of John Lavis. He has a Master's degree in Health Policy & Equity (2015) from York University, where his research was a critical examination of the evidence concerning obesity in Canada and its health effects. It was a critical examination of how obesity has come to be a health issue in Canada with particular emphasis on how obesity fits in with current public policy preoccupations with health care system cost control, the individualization of health problems, and a turning away from concern with how broader living and working conditions shape health. Some of the areas Ahmed is passionate about are: ways to make preventive services more efficient and more appealing to the masses, care coordination and disease management, and strategies for engaging with minorities and at-risk communities regarding HIV. Overall, he is interested in exploring the impact of the Social Determinants of Health on health promotion. His research is focused on prevention as critical for circumventing the health disparities we face. Ahmednur is particularly interested in and hopes to devote his PhD to how recommendations housed in clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) can be better incorporated into public policies and vice versa. That is, can these CPGs incorporate what is known about the importance of public policy and can public policy strive to facilitate the behavioural changes found in the CPGs? Ahmed is the recipient of the Michael G. DeGroote Doctoral Scholarship of Excellence for incoming doctoral students who have outstanding academic records and excellent research promise and will be working in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He was also selected as the recipient of an incoming Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Valentina Antonipillai

Valentina Antonipillai Valentina Antonipillai is being supervised by Lisa Schwartz. Prior to joining the Health Policy PhD program. Valentina obtained an Honours B.Sc. degree with a specialization in Human Biology, Health and Disease, awarded in 2014, from the University of Toronto and an M.Sc. in Global Health (thesis stream) degree from McMaster University, awarded in 2015. She was a Research Assistant on a project relating to the development of risk management strategies and the internationalization of higher education for the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University. Previously, Valentina was a program coordinator of a clinical research certificate program at Michael Garron Hospital for medical students. She is keenlyt interested in the intersections of health equity and policy. Her previous thesis research as a graduate student focused on examining the Interim Federal Health Program using a stakeholder analysis, which revealed barriers and facilitators of healthcare access and provision for refugees and refugee claimants. Valentina's doctoral research will explore policies regulating and the provision of equitable healthcare for vulnerable refugee populations, and analyze the social, political and economic impacts of refugee health policy reform using a mixed methods research study design. Valentina was selected to receive an Ontario Graduate Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year, recognizing her for her scholarly achievements. Currently, she is a Student Ambassador for the Health Policy PhD program.

Jaime Ardila-Salcedo

Jaime Ardila-Salcedo

Jaime Ardila was trained as a physician at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. Before joining the Health Policy PhD program, he worked as a consultant at the Colombian Ministry of Health and also taught at the Medical School of the Universidad del Rosario. He obtained an MPH from the University of Sheffield in the UK and a MSc in Health Economics at Jagiellonian University in Poland within the Erasmus Mundus Program "Europubhealth" sponsored by the European Commission. He is a recipient of the prestigious Ontario Trillium Scholarship and trainee of Knowledge Translation Canada (2011-2015). Under the supervision of John Lavis, Jaime's dissertation will explore how health economics have been transferred into policy-making in middle income settings, studying the case of Colombia.

Amilcar Azamar-Alonso

Amilcar Azamar-AlonsoAmilcar Azamar-Alonso is under the supervisor of Jean-Eric Tarride. Amilcar obtained his MSc in Health Economics (2012) from the National Institute of Public Health (INSP-Mexico). His background is in Economics (2007) and he obtained a specialty in Monitoring and Evaluation of HIV/AIDS programs from Emory University in 2012. Before joining the Health Policy PhD program, Amilcar worked as a researcher in Health Economics at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico collaborating in Health Technology Assessment and Technical Efficiency Analysis HIV/AIDS projects funded by the World Bank and The Melinda & Bill Gates foundation in different countries (Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria). From 2012 to 2015, Amilcar was associate professor of the MSc in Health Economics at the INSP (Microeconomics, HTA and Health Economics courses). In 2015, he worked as Market Access and Pharmacoeconomics Manager for Stendhal Pharma in Mexico, being responsible of Market Access, Pricing and Reimbursement Strategies in HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, HCV, Epilepsy and AHT products. Amilcar's primary interest is focused in Health Technology Assessment and new methods to perform Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. In recognition of his academic strength he is a recipient of an International Excellence Award in both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years.

Fanor Balderrama

Fanor Balderrama Fanor Balderrama is under the supervision of Christopher Longo. Prior to joining the Health Policy PhD Program, Fanor received his BSc degree in Biomedical Engineering from Yale University, his MSc in Bioengineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and his MBA degree from Universidad Privada Boliviana. Fanor was awarded an International Ontario Graduate Scholarship in recognition of his exceptional scholarly achievement throughout the 2016-2017 academic year and an International Excellence Award during the 2017-2018 academic year. Presently, Fanor is a Student Ambassdor for the Health Policy program.

Maria Bargeman

Maria BargemanMaria is being supervised by John Lavis. Her doctoral dissertation is exploring the need for and role of trauma-informed care in health policy development and implemention across various levels of the health system. Maria's dissertation addresses the use of research evidence in policy: 1) about clinical issues outside the traditional boundaries of mental health; 2) at the health system level; and 3) in other sectors such as education, child welfare and the judicial system. Maria is particularly interested in the use of scientific evidence regarding the epidemiology and neurobiology of trauma, as well as neuroplasticity and post-trauma growth to inform policies on trauma-informed care, specifically, and relevant policy development more broadly.

Maria completed her MSc in International Health from the University of Leeds. Her research examined the role of non-state actors in the development and implementation of the UK's Health is Global policy. Maria is a registered nurse with extensive experience across various specialized adult critical care units and in the emergency departments. She also teaches in the School of Nursing at McMaster University and in the BScN Collaborative Program at Mohawk College. Maria utilizes an innovative teaching style, drawing on her strengths as a curriculum developer for interactive workshops focusing on student knowledge gaps pertaining to clinical performance.

Neil Barr

Neil BarrNeil obtained an MSc from the department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, which involved an examination of the physiological and psychological correlates of physical activity in individuals living with spinal cord injury. Prior to joining the PhD program, Neil managed the collaborative/interdisciplinary health programs associated with the DeGroote School of Business. He also spent three years as a Clinical Research Associate in the division of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology at McMaster Children's Hospital. Other research and work experience has been in cardiology, as well as health/exercise psychology and quality of life. His research interests include the role of virtual health care/telemedicine in improving access and quality of care, in particular for vulnerable populations in Canada and abroad, as well as the relationship between health policy and social organization (e.g., professional roles and organizational behaviour/culture). Neil is being supervised by Glen Randall and his current research endeavours include an examination of the role of health information technology in improving communication between health care providers. Neil's research has been supported by a Prestige Scholarship (Ashbaugh), and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Ahmed A. Belal

Ahmad Belal

Ahmed Belal received his physician licence from Cairo University: M.B. B.CH. in November 2008, where he worked as a resident in the departments of radiology and family medicine in Cario. He obtained his MPH degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2016. Prior to joining McMaster he worked as the assistant director of the Non-Communicable Diseases Unit in the Egyptian Ministry of Health, where he managed a nationwide program for Diabetes awareness and surveillance, which he continues to monitor. During his position at the Ministry of Health he was a team leader formulating the Egyptian National Multisectoral Plan for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2017-2021. His research interests are in organizing public engagement in health policy making and how to translate the theories of health policy analysis into actions that would meet the public's needs. Belal is being supervised by John Lavis. His current research work at McMaster Health Forum identifies articles that would fit within the context of the Health Systems Evidence initiative.

Francesca Brundisini

Francesca Brundisini

Francesca Brundisini obtained her Master's degree in Local and International Development and Cooperation Studies with the Faculty of Political Science (in collaboration with the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Statistics) from Bologna University. Her research interest is directed towards Health Technology Assessment and its use and impact in low/middle income countries. Improving access to health technologies is a constituent part of an integrated approach to address disease and poverty, consequently playing a significant role in a country's socio-economic development. Taking into account the wide range of different contexts of these countries and the great number of obstacles and limitations they encounter, she intends to explore the value and the implications of HTA not only regarding the main chronic deficiencies in health care systems and policies in lower income countries, but further analyze HTA's role and impact with respect to more acute situations, such as health relief in cases of humanitarian emergencies. Francesca was recipient in both 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 of the International Excellence Award, recognized as demonstrating a high standard of scholarly achievement and significant contributions as an international student of McMaster. Her supervisor is Mita Giacomini.

Heather Bullock

Heather BullockHeather Bullock is being supervised by John Lavis. Heather is curious about how large jurisdictions implement evidence-informed policy directions in mental health systems. Heather’s dissertation will explore the methodologies for change that large systems utilize and how governments can organize and support policy implementation efforts using evidence-informed approaches. Before joining the Health Policy PhD Program, Heather worked at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada where she was the Director of Knowledge Exchange. As part of this role, Heather developed and led an innovative knowledge translation initiative: Evidence Exchange Network, a network that aims to make Ontario’s mental health and addiction system more evidence-informed. Heather is co-investigator on several research initiatives, providing knowledge translation and implementation science expertise. She holds a Faculty of Medicine appointment at the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto where she instructs a graduate level course on Knowledge Translation. She has Masters level training in behavioural ecology and evolutionary psychology from Queen’s University. Heather was awarded the prestigious Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholarship in June 2016 to support her research in identifying optimal ways to embed mental health policy into Canada's social system.

Alice Cavanagh

Alice CavanaghAlice Cavanagh is under the supervision of Meredith Vanstone. Alice completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science at McMaster University in 2013, and was awarded a Master of Arts in Gender Studies and Feminist Research by McMaster University in 2017. Since completing her BArts Science degree, Alice has worked in a wide array of clinical research environments, honing an interest and expertise in qualitative methodologies. Committed to addressing the health impacts of sexual violence, Alice has volunteered with the Sexual Assault Centre: Hamilton and Area since 2015 and is a member of McMaster University's Sexual Violence Education Team. Alice’s research interests lie at the intersection of gender theory, medical pedagogy and critical trauma studies. Her doctoral work will consider the constituent pieces of a trauma-informed medical education, with an eye to better understanding how medical trainees learn to think about and respond to patients they encounter who have experienced sexual violence. Alice is the recipient the 2017-2018 Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Avram Denburg

Avram Denburg

Avram (Avi) Denburg is being supervised by Julia Abelson. His research work is entitled: Deliberative Justice: Ethical, Evidence-Informed Policy on Pediatric Cancer Care in Low-and Middle-income Countries. He is a recipient of a CIHR Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Training Program (CCHCSP) award for career enhancement, which is provided in partnership with: SickKids Foundation, BC Children's Hospital Foundation, Manitoba Institute of Child Health (MICH), and Women & Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI) Alberta. Additionally, Avi is a paediatrician and a Clinical Fellow in the Division of Haematology/Oncology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. He obtained his MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing from the London School of Economics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and was a 2012-2013 Pediatric Scientist Development Program Fellow at Harvard University. In June 2015 Avi was selected to receive the distinguished Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholarship in cooperation with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship.

Graham Dobbs

Graham Dobbs

Graham Dobbs completed his Honours Bachelor of Arts, Economics in 2016 and his Masters of Arts, Economic Policy in 2017, obtaining both degrees at McMaster University. Prior to starting his PhD he was a Research Assistant for the Public Economics Data Analysis Laboratory examining open data networks and charitable giving expenditures, as well as an Economic analyst at Health Canada co-op, examining trends in private market pharmaceutical expenditures. Graham's current research interests include: investigating the determinants of substance abuse and disorders; analyzing burden of out-of-pocket medical spending among Canadians; and, examining alternatives to prescription opioid use. Graham is being supervised by Emmanuel Guindon.

Sophiya Garasia

Sophiya Garasia

Sophiya Garasia's supervisor is Emmanuel Guindon. She received her Honours Bachelor of Science from McMaster University in 2014 and her Master of Public Health from University of Guelph in 2016. Prior to starting her PhD, Sophiya worked with the knowledge synthesis group as an Epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada, conducing scoping reviews on climate-change related topics. Additionally, in 2016 she interned within the communications unit at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, assisting with both social media and web messaging. Her current research and health policy interests involve equity in health and health care, health services and health economics. Sophiya aims to study the impact of affordability of healthcare on both utilization of healthcare, including health outcomes in vulnerable populations, in both a Canadian as well as global context. Sophiya is the recipient of the Michael G. DeGroote Doctoral Scholarship of Excellence for incoming doctoral students who have an outstanding academic record and excellent research promise.

Kassu K. Gurmu

Kassu GurmuKassu joined the Health Policy PhD Program at McMaster University in September 2014. Prior to coming to McMaster he worked as a technical and professional officer in the World Health Organization (WHO) offices for Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, and Yemen. He has participated in guideline and training material development and revision, and in capacity building for Ministry of Health staff. He was a general medical practitioner and consultant paediatrician in zone and teaching hospitals in Ethiopia and taught medical, health officer and nursing students.
His research interest is related to knowledge transfer and exchange. His thesis topic, he plans to examine to what degree policy development, program management and service delivery in the PMTCT program in Ethiopia is evidence-informed, develop context-specific tools to facilitate knowledge translation, and evaluate the impact of using these tools. Kassu received his MD and MPH from Gondar University, Ethiopia, and completed his residency in Paediatrics and Child Health in the Medical Faculty of Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. In May 2005 Kassu was selected to receive the esteemed Vanier Graduate Scholarship. He is being supervised by Dr. John Lavis and supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) International Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Policies and Systems.

Christina Hackett

Christina HackettChristina earned her BA (Hons) History of Art from the University of Warwick, her MA Counselling Psychology from Adler School of Professional, her MSc Health Policy, Planning and Financing from the London School of Economics & London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is experienced in developing and implementing mental health services to vulnerable populations including at-risk young people, individuals with chronic mental health issues and Indigenous peoples in both rural and urban settings. She has also led research initiatives aimed at advancing mental health program evaluation in circumpolar contexts. Christina's research interests include how policy and self-government impact health outcomes for Indigenous peoples of Canada; mental health program evaluation across different cultural paradigms of knowledge and mental health services and system design. Christina is being supervised by Gillian Mulvale. Christina's research topic and academic fortitude has resulted in awarding her an Ontario Graduate Scholarship during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Young Jung

Young Jung Young Jung, earned his BSc from the University of Manitoba in Zoology and Economics, then joined McMaster University to obtain his Master's degree in Economics. Young's research interests include Economic evaluation, the public/private mix in the financing of healthcare, population projection and the evaluation of factors influencing patients’ financial burden for health care services, particularly in the area of cancer. He aims to provide empirical evidence by analyzing data from different administrative sources and survey data. Young is being supervised by Christopher Longo.

Ahmad Firas Khalid

Firas Khalid Firas Khalid is being supervised by John Lavis. Firas attended St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2005 where he completed his MD with research distinction. During his tenure at St. George’s, he was a recipient of the International Peace Scholarship and the prestigious Humanitarian Award, both awarded to individuals who exhibit academic excellence and dedication to the enhancement of their country’s health system. He also holds a Masters of Management (IMHL) from McGill University (2014), and both a Masters of Health Professions Education (2014) and a Graduate Certificate in Population Health Risk Assessment and Management (2012) from the University of Ottawa. Firas is a Medical Doctor and worked as a program research consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO), in the department of Child and Maternal Health in Geneva. Firas has also worked at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and provided public health expertise to Health Canada. The rise of crisis situations in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) raises questions with regard to the extent Canada can contribute to preventing and treating the health consequences of these crises among vulnerable populations. Canada has played a major leadership role in developing and evaluating efforts to support health system and policy change based on the best available research evidence (sometimes called knowledge translation, or KT). However, gaps remain in the research literature about KT, particularly when one turns to crisis situations (such as the Ebola outbreak) and to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and especially in crisis situations in LMICs. Building on his past experience working with the World Health Organization and on a project funded by Grand Challenges Canada, and on a planned internship at Medecins sans Frontieres, Firas's research proposes to address this significant gap in our knowledge by improving our understanding of the barriers and facilitators to KT in crisis situations in LMICs and by pilot testing and evaluating a KT intervention in such a setting. His research will involve a novel form of systematic review (critical interpretive synthesis), case studies, and an effectiveness study. His scholarly excellence has been recognized by being awarded with an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for the past three consecutive years, Firas’s research will explore the use of research evidence to inform health policy and system change in crisis situations in low- and middle-income countries. Firas aims to contribute to new ideas for Canada’s role in tackling global health challenges in this new era of globalization. He was the Health Policy PhD program's Student Ambassador during the 2016-17 year.

Mohammad Kibria

Mohammad Kibria Dr. Kibria is under the supervision of John Lavis. He is a licensed physician in Bangladesh, has over 12 years of experience in managing emergency health care, research and development projects in Asia and East Africa. He contributed to rebuilding health systems disrupted by man made and natural disasters in Myanmar, South Sudan and Sudan from 2007 to 2013. Among his various roles, Dr. Kibria served as the country director of Sightsavers in Bangladesh (2013-2015); Country Health Director of Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin) in Sudan (2009-2013); Senior Health Coordinator of Merlin in South Sudan (2008-2009); Project Health Coordinator of Merlin in Myanmar (2007-2008); and Research Physician of Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Cambodia (2007). Dr. Kibria also adapted the WHO training module on ‘analyzing disrupted health system in countries in crisis’ and facilitated training for senior ministry of health staff in Sudan in collaboration with WHO-EMRO and WHO-Geneva in 2011. Dr. Kibria holds a medical degree from Chittagong Medical College (2001) and a Masters in public health (MPH) from North South University, Bangladesh (2008), where he also taught a graduate-level epidemiology course as an adjunct faculty during January-May 2015. His research interests include exploring ways of making health policies evidence-based, inclusive and people-oriented. Kibria has been awarded a 2016-2017 Ontario Graduate Fellowship in support of his research work.

Chungah Kim

Chungah Kim Chungah Kim is being supervised by Jim Dunn. Prior to joining the Health Policy PhD program Chungah received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Korea University and her Master of Public Health with a specializtion in Health Demography from Seoul National University During the 2015-16 academic year Chungah was recipient of the International Excellence Award, recognizing her for scholarly achievements as an international student of McMaster. Her research focuses on examining macro political and economic forces that shape socioeconomic determinants of health on individuals and evaluating social and labour market policies that can moderate the detrimental effects of market economy on health outcomes.

Derek Manis

Derek Manis

Derek Manis is under the supervision of Mike Wilson. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies in the Health Policy program, Derek obtained his Paramedic Diploma from Centennial College, and received his Bachelor of Allied Health Sciences (Honours) and Master of Health Sciences degrees from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. His master’s thesis entitled, “Life with HIV in a Suburban Community: An Exploration of the Experiences Pertaining to Health and Social Care Service Access” was selected as the best thesis by a graduate student in the Faculty of Health Sciences convocating in 2017. His thesis was also nominated as one of five outstanding theses in 2017 by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. His research interests focus on aging and community-based care, interprofessional and primary health care, HIV, knowledge synthesis, translation, and exchange, and economic evaluations of health policies and services. He has received financial support from the Ontario Graduate Scholarship program and the CIHR Institute for Health Services and Policy Research. Derek has published and presented his research at various conferences held across Canada and internationally. He is a member of the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research, the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education, and the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology.

Ashleigh Miatello

Ashleigh Miatell-Skrubbeltrang

Ashleigh Miatello is being supervised by Gillian Mulvale. Ashleigh received her BA degree in Community Health and her MA in Applied Health Sceinces. Both degrees were obtained from Brock University. Ashleigh was the Health Policy PhD program's inaugural Student Ambassdor during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Benard Miregwa

Benard MiregwaBenard Miregwa is being supervised by Mike Wilson. Benard received his medical degree from Dr. MGR Medical University in India in 2006. He pursued his Master's Degree of Science in Public Health at the University of South Wales in the United Kingdom, awarded in 2011. From there he graduated from the Free University in Partnership with Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands and the World Health Organization with an International Course in Health Development/Master of Public Health where he specialized in Topical Medicine and HIV/AIDS (ICHD/MPH) in 2012. He went on to post-graduate studies in Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, Pharmaceutical Policy Analysis at Utrecht university in 2012 as well as a Policy analysis course using Interrupted Time Series at the University of British Columbia in 2016. He worked for the Ministry of Health in Kenya in a number of senior management positions such as the Head of Policy Analysis and Research and Policy Analysis in the headquarters and Coast region of Kenya. He served as the Head of Clinical Services at the Coast Provincial General Hospital, medical superintendent and medical officer of Health in different regions in Kenya. Alongside this, he supported the County government of Mombasa to establish a directorate of policy analysis, research and development which Benard head and served as the deputy county secretary. Moreover, he continues to have strong links in academia. Benard's current research interests are spun around health services, health economics and health policy analysis research that focuses at improving public health outcomes. More specifically, my research will evaluate pharmaceutical policy issues related to pricing and reimbursement mechanisms, drug insurance, access and use of medicines, health technology assessment and the evaluation of efficacy and cost-benefit analysis of health products and technology. I envision to combine health services, policy work, public health practice and clinical research to address critical health problems. And aim to pursuing an academic career, as well as mentoring a new generation of professionals in public health, health services, political science, health economics and policy research. Benard was selected to receive both the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship and an International Excellence Award, recognizing him for his academic strength.

Sarah Newell

Sarah NewellSarah is under the supervision of Nancy Doubleday in the Social Organization field of the Health Policy PhD, while also completing the joint Water Without Borders diploma through UNU-INWEH. Sarah Newell earned an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences and a Master's of Science in Health Systems, both obtained from the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on how social, cultural, and ecological systems influence community health and wellbeing from a number of different perspectives. Currently, Sarah is collaborating with the community Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut ( on community-based research about how changes are affecting overall community health. She is also using the Aboriginal People's Survey data to understand how cultural continuity influences health and will use ontology-engineering methods to represent the knowledge from both of these studies. Finally, Sarah is working with UNU-INWEH on how Locally Managed Marine Areas could be expanded globally and applied to Canadian contexts.

Mathieu Poirier

Mathieu PoirierMathieu is interested in applying novel health equity metrics across national boundaries to uncover gradients of health throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  These socially and politically determined inequities in health are often responsive to a multitude of health policies. One such policy is Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program creation and strengthening.  Using these novel metrics, I will research the effect of CCTs on health equity as well as the political considerations which go into their successful implementation. Mathieu is being supervised by Michel Grignon. During both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic year's Mathieu has been a recipient of an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for his academic strength and in support of his research work.

Donya Razavi

Donya Razavi Donya (Shaghayegh) Razavi is currently in her 3rd year, under the supervision of Lydia Kapiriri who is with the Department of Health, Aging & Society. Donya received her Honours Bachelor of Science Degree from the Univeristy of Toronto with a double major in Human Biology (Global Health) & Psychology. Her Master's of Science degree in Global Health is from McMaster University where her research focus, at that time, was on primary health care and interprofessional collaboration. Donya's dissertation topic concentrated on policy factors which influence Interprofessional Primary Health Care Collaboration in Ontario’s Family Health Teams. Presently, Donya’s research focuses on Priority Setting for Health Care, specifically examining the role of stakeholder engagement with a concentration on engagement of vulnerable groups in priority setting processes and decision-making. She has also completed work relating to whether applications of commonly documented Priority Setting frameworks for health interventions have been used to influence policymaking. Donya is a member of the International Society on Priorities in Health. She held the position of Health Policy program Student Ambassador during the 2016-17 year.

Michael Scarpitti

Michael ScarpittiMichael Scarpitti s under the supervision of John Lavis. Michael earned his Honours Bachelor of Science (Hon.B.Sc.) from the University of Toronto in 2014, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Queen's University in 2015, and most recently his Master of Science (M.Sc.) from McMaster University in 2016. Michael has served on the Queen’s School of Policy Studies Executive Council, and recently cofounded the ‘Intersections in Global Health’ conference at McMaster. Michael has experience conducting research at the Hospital for Sick Children, and is currently the Director of Finance for the Graduate Management Consulting Association at McMaster University. Michael's research interests surround understanding how to support the use of empirical research evidence in health policymaking, studying the use of data-driven tools to improve health care services, and analyzing public engagement and the values that inform health policy decisions. He has a special interest in the analytics that aid health care decision makers, and understands the importance of using data to promote the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective care.

Wynonna Smoke

Wynonna Smoke Wynonna Smoke received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a Minor in Mathematics, as well as a Master of Arts in Economic Policy, both at McMaster University. She has experience researching Indigenous issues, working for Employment and Social Development Canada in the Indigenous and Northern Analysis Division prior to entering the Health Policy PhD program. She continues to research Indigenous issues from both labour and health economics perspectives. Wynonna is being supervised by Michel Grignon. Her dissertation research interest is focused on Indigenous mental health.

Melodie Song

Melodie Song

Melodie (Yun-Ju) Song was selected as McMaster University 2013 International Excellence Award recipient. She has a background in nursing, health policy and management and global health. She explores the stages of policy uptake and its impacts on health inequalities relating to the social-determinants of health, applications include the examination of ethics in palliative care guidelines, the impact on work-life balance of parental care benefits, lived-experiences of female smokers after outdoor smoking bans in urban Taipei, and needs assessments for harm-reduction programs in Seattle. Melodie is most enthusiastic about global health outreach, and she has collaborated in various NGOs in Poland, Thailand, Ecuador, Finland, and the US. She has received various awards and scholarships for her contribution in student activism and public health research from the Ministry of Health, the National Council of Science, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan. Melodie's supervisor is Julia Abelson.

Ania Theuer

Ania TheuerAnia Theuer is being supervised by Melissa Brouwers. Ania's educational backgrounds are criminology (MCA) and social work (MSW). She worked for 12 years in the mental health field including individual counselling, crisis intervention, program development and evaluation. I have experience collaborating with various partners including police, health, education and community organizations. Ania is also a board member on Brantford's Community Advisory Board on Homelessness Issues (CAB). She is interested in studying the historical, social and political contexts in the development of modern police, health and mental health systems' response strategies in Canada. Specifically, working in partnership with Hamilton Police Service and St. Joesph's Healthcare, with a research focus on developing and evaluating threshold criteria for Ontario's first Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams (MCRRT) and observing MCRRT interventions. Ania's research aims and interests are to historicize, contextualize and evaluate police-community collaborative response strategies; review and interpret policy around the development, implementation and evaluation of these response strategies, and; apply criminological and health policy theories and perspectives to assess, interpret and problematize contemporary law enforcement, health and mental health systems issues.

Valerie Ulep

Val Ulep Val was a Supervising Health Research Specialist at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies in Manila and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Nikkei-Japan Center for Economic Research in Tokyo. He was also a consultant for different government agencies and multi-lateral organisations, and a lecturer of epidemiology at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Manila.

Val’s research interests include health financing systems in developing countries. He is interested in evaluating the impact of out-of-pocket expenditures and insurance models on poverty and health outcomes using econometric techniques. He has a Master’s degree in Epidemiology. Val is being co-supervised by Jerry Hurley and Arthur Sweetman.

Marcela Vélez

Marcela Velez Marcela earned her degree as a physician (MD) from the Universidad Tecnologica de Pereira (2005), specialized in public health (2008), then obtained her Master in clinical epidemiology (MSc) University of Antioquia (2012). Prior to joining the HP PhD program she held she was a professor and researcher in the University of Antioquia (Colombia) for the past six years. She comes with experience in clinical research, development and implementation of clinical guidelines, quality of life and measurement scales. Under the supervisor of Michael Wilson her dissertation xploreresearch and health policy interests will focus on studying how values in the Colombian healthcare system are understood, interpreted and used in policy development and implementation. In both 2015-16 and 2016-17, Marcela received an International Excellence Award in recognition of her academic strength.

Marjan Walli-Attaei

Marjan Walli-AttaeiMarjan's research interests lie at the intersection of health economics, behavioural economics and applied statistics. My thesis focuses on the measurement of inequalities in health. The goal of my three chapters are to a) relate the axiomatic properties of different inequality indices to normative ideas on fairness and social justice, and empirically show how these properties affect conclusions regarding health equity b) Improve the relevance of rank-dependent inequality indices for the Canadian context by empirically investigating Canadians’ preferences toward inequalities in health, inequalities in income and inequalities in the bivariate distribution of income-related health inequalities using stated preference methods c) Empirically estimate the extent to which equality of opportunity in health explains inequalities in health. In other words, what is the estimated contribution of the environment? She has experience working in both the public and private sector, evaluating Federal labour market programs at Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly HRSDC) and conducting health economic evaluations for pharmaceutical drugs and technologies at OptumInsight. Marjan is being supervised by Jeremiah Hurley.

Qi Wang

Qi Wang Qi Wang is working under the supervision of John Lavis. Her research interests focus on the development, adaptation and implementation of health-systems guidance. Qi completed a medical degree at Lanzhou University in 2014 and a Master’s degree from the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Centre of the same university in 2017. As part of her graduate studies, she focused on the development, appraisal and reporting of clinical practice guidelines. Qi has also worked as an intern at the Ministry of Health in China for six months, focusing on health management and health policy development. During her undergraduate studies, Qi became involved with the Chinese translation of Health Systems Evidence in cooperation with McMaster Health Forum. She has continued to provide translation support and is also working to support its widespread use in China.

Shawn Winsor

Shawn Winsor

Shawn Winsor received both his MHSc and his Clinical Ethics Fellowship at the University of Toronto. Currently, he holds the position of Ethicist at LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine. Previously, he was Director of the Ethics Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Ethicist Lead at Trillium Health Centre. Shawn is Course Director of the MHSc (Bioethics) Practicum at the University of Toronto, and member of the Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board (OCREB). His research interests are at the intersection of ethics, health care decision-making, and health policy in the field of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Broadly stated, he is interested in the meta-ethical tensions underlying policy development in general: are policies as frameworks for guiding and/or proscribing practice suited to addressing ethically-challenging healthcare decisions that target specific communities? And, if so, in what ways does their application problematize the issues they are ostensibly resolving? In particular, he is interested in exploring the issue of access to ART treatment for clients whose social and/or medical circumstances are assessed by ART providers as inconsistent with perceived norms around childrearing. Shawn's leadership skills and high standard of scholarly achievements were recognized in May 2013 as he was awarded the distinguisehd CIHR Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship to advance his dissertation research. He is being supervised by Lisa Schwartz.

Sharon Yu

Sharon Yu Sharon Yu's primary research interest is looking at place-based interventions and its effects on child development. Her thesis will be comprised of: 1) a realist review on the effect of socially-mixed initiatives on child development; 2) a program assessment of the Regent Park revitalization project on child development; and 3) an investigation of successful comprehensive place-based initiatives (e.g., purpose built communities). Research interests include: social mix, child development, school readiness, place-based interventions, neighbourhood effects, and housing. Sharon primary supervisor is Jim Dunn.

Graduates of the Health Policy PhD Program

Kathy Li

Kathy LiKathy Li began her PhD studies in the Health Policy PhD program in September 2008. She was enrolled in the Ontario Training Centre Diploma in Health Services and Policy Research while she completed a Master's degree in Health Research Methodology at McMaster University, and also a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies (Co-op) at the University of Waterloo. She has held an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for 3 consecutive years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Throughout her degree her faculty supervisor was Julia Abelson, Professor with the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Kathy has professional experience in clinical research in cancer palliative care as well as methodology of complex interventions. Past research topics include determining the minimal clinically important difference of statin therapy and pain management in patients with bone metastases. Her current research interests include public engagement, health policy, mixed methods research and comparative methods. Her dissertation topic is on the use of public engagement outputs in health policy. Aside from her research activities, Kathy has been a Teaching Assistant for McMaster Health Sciences courses, Critical Appraisal of the Medical Literature, as well as Health Systems & Health Policy. On September 9, 2013 Kathy successfully defended her dissertation, titled: Public involvement use in health-policy decision-making, then convocated on November 22, 2013. Presently, she holds the position of Senior Policy Advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Toronto.

Kaelan Moat

Kaelan MoatKaelan Moat started as PhD Student in the Health Policy program at McMaster University in 2009 and was supervised by John Lavis. He held the CHEPA Doctoral Fellowship in 2009-2010 and was also awarded the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for three consective academic years: 2011, 2012 and 2013. His areas of interest include analyzing the effectiveness of synergistic efforts to link research evidence to health systems policy decisions, with an emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. He has also explored the impact of decentralization policy in India on its public health system and has a strong interest in comparative health systems studies in both low- and high-income countries. In 2011, he was enrolled and received the Ontario Training Centre Diploma in Health Services and Policy Research. Prior to arriving at McMaster, Kaelan earned a Master of Science degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in International Health Policy and has worked for NGOs in both Canada and India. On November 7, 2013 Kaelan solidly defended his thesis, titled: Evidence briefs as a mechanism for knowledge transfer and exchange: Assessing views about, experiences with, and influences of policy-relevant research influences on low- and middle-income countries. Kaelan convocated on May 23, 2014 and has become an Assistant Professor at McMaster University, a member of CHEPA, as well as Managing Director at the McMaster Health Forum. He oversees the continual identification and updating of records for Health Systems Evidence at the Health Policy Forum, which is the world's most comprehensive repository of research evidence about governance, financial and delivery arrangements within health systems, and about implementation strategies that can support change in health systems, consisting of more than 3,500 records, including evidence briefs, systematic reviews, economic evaluations and health system descriptions.

Stephanie Montesanti

Stephanie MontesantiStephanie Montesanti was supervised by Julia Abelson while in the Health Policy PhD Program. Her doctoral research involves a multiple case study analysis of participation strategies in Community Health Centres (CHCs) in the province of Ontario. In addition to her doctoral studies, Stephanie has been involved in research and knowledge translation initiatives in population and public health. Currently, she is involved in a public engagement project with Public Health Ontario (PHO) to develop and evaluate citizens' panel models for public health units in Ontario to address complex public health issues. She received OGS scholarship awards for three consecutive years (2010-2013) and was the recipient of the PHIRN Doctoral Award for 2011-2012. In addition, Stephanie received a Graduate Diploma Certificate in Health Services and Policy Research with the Ontario Training Centre (OTC). Stephanie was previously the Co-Lead for Evidence, Synthesis and Evaluation at the McMaster Health Forum, where she was involved in writing evidence briefs and preparing stakeholder dialogues on varying healthcare policy issues. Stephanie's previous experiences include working with community-based health organizations on research projects in the area of population health and community health interventions. She also has professional experience in international development projects, assisting with research projects in Krong Kep, Cambodia from 2007-2010 on maternal health and health system planning. She completed a Master's degree in Medical Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She has professional and research expertise in health policy analysis, qualitative and combined research methods, community participation, and knowledge translation in health services and policy research. Stephanie successfully defended her dissertation, titled: The participation of marginalized populations in health servcies planning and decision-making, on November 7, 2013 and then convocated on May 23, 2014. Currently, Stephanie is an Assistant Professor with the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Jessica Shearer

Jessica ShearerJessica Shearer completed her doctoral student in the Health Policy PhD program at McMaster University. John Lavis was her faculty supervisor. She is a recipient of the prestigious Harry Lyman Hooker Senior Fellowship. Jessica's thesis will examine how innovations (including research evidence) are diffused through policy networks, specifically knowledge translation platforms (KTPs) in low- and middle-income countries. Jessica and colleagues at McMaster University will work closely with colleagues in low- and middle-income KTPs, including those supported by WHO's EVIPNet, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, and the European Union (SURE).
Jessica's research interests include exploring innovative approaches to scaling up cost-effective public health interventions at sub-national and national policy levels. Jessica's past experience draws on both research and policy. As a Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, she participated in the evaluations of large-scale community-based studies, primarily in India, and has also worked closely with decision-makers in national governments to translate research evidence to policy. In India, she provided technical and policy support for the national decision to introduce Hib-containing pentavalent vaccine into the routine immunization program. She is the co-author of a guide to support national program managers to scale-up condom programming, and the lead author of a research paper that explores factors that accelerate national policy decisions to adopt Hib vaccine. On January 17, 2014 Jessica auspiciously defended her dissertation, titled: Social networks, research evidence and innovation in health policymaking in Burkino Faso, and convocated on May 23, 2014. She is using her social network analysis expertise in her role as Senior Monitoring & Evaulation Officer, with PATH, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Yaw Owusu

Yaw Owusu

Yaw Owusu joined the Health Policy PhD program at McMaster University in September 2009. He received his BSc (Honours)in Agricultural Economics from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, his MSc in Economics and Finance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and an additional MSc in Environmental Science in Public Policy and Administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His faculty supervisor is Michel Grignon, current Director of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, holds a joint appointment with the Department of Economics, and the Department of Health, Aging and Society. Yaw held a CHEPA Doctoral Fellowship during the 2009-2010 academic year and also obtained an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for the 2011-2012 year. His research interest is with the migration and shortage of physicians in Ontario, including Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHPs) from a Canadian and Global perspective and their impact on equity and efficiency of health care utilizations. He is also interested in understanding the integration of Health Economics, Economic policy, Public Policy and Social Organization. Yaw has been a Teaching Assistant for McMaster's Health Sciences course, Critical Appraisal of the Medical Literature. On August 25, 2014 Yaw successfully defended his dissertation, titled: International migration and occupational integration of skilled health professionals, and respectively he convocated on November 21, 2014. He now holds the position of Associate Director at the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

Daniel Patiño

Daniel Patiño

Daniel Patiño came to McMaster from Medellin, Colombia, where he has studied and worked in health-related fields for the past several years. He is a graduate of the Ulysses International Master's Program in Health Technology Assessment and Management, and holds a degree in biomedical engineering from the Antioquia School of Engineering in Medellin. He has taught at the University of Antioquia and at the Hospital Paublo Tobon Uribe, and was involved in the establishment of a Health Technology Assessment Centre at the university. In addition to HTA, Patino's research interests are centred on economic evaluation and knowledge transfer. He was supervised by John Lavis during his PhD degree. In 2011 he was selected and completed the Ontario Training Centre Diploma in Health Services and Policy Research. During the 2012 academic year Daniel was awarded McMaster University's International Excellence Award for demonstrating a high standard of scholarly achievement and significant contributions. On September 22, 2014 Daniel successfully defended his dissertation, titled: Supporting the use of research evidence in the Colombian health system, and subsequently convocated on November 21, 2014. Daniel has since returned to Colombia and holds an Assistant Professor position in the Departmentof Medicine at the University of Antioquia.

Edward Gariba


Edward Gariba earned a BA in political science at the University of Ghana before coming to Canada where he earned two Master's degrees -- one in political science from Brock University and the other in public policy and administration from Carleton University. Before coming to McMaster, he worked as a policy analyst and researcher with the Canadian Federal Government in Ottawa, focusing on social policy domain. His research interests are focused on knowledge transfer and exchange in health care policymaking, and he plans to examine capacity building, use of research evidence and implementation issues in health care policymaking and reform in Africa. Gariba was supervised by John Lavis. Edward successfully defended his dissertation on July 9, 2015, which is titled: Clearinghouses targeted at improving use of research evidence in policymaking: Rationale, user testing and usage. Edward subsequently convocated on 20 November 2015.

Denis Ako-Arrey

Denis Ako-Arrey

Denis Ako-Arrey obtained his Masters in Public Health from the University of Saskatchewan and his Masters in Health Administration from University of Montreal. Prior to the program he worked at the Public Health Branch of Correctional Services Canada as a Surveillance Analyst/Epidemiologist. He has also worked as a Research Associate/Teaching Assistant on various projects in different universities; University of Montreal, McGill University, University of Calgary and University of Saskatchewan. He completed an internship with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care where he worked as a Policy Analyst. Denis was successful in receiving KT Canada STIHR Fellowship for academic years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Current research interests resonate around using methodological and theoretical principles of knowledge translation science to design an instrument, AGREE for Health Systems (AGREE-HS) to direct the development, appraisal and reporting of evidence informed health system guidance. The goal is to design a new tool that will ultimately be used by local, national and international organizations/agencies with an interest and mandate in developing and implementing high quality guidelines on health systems. His supervisor was Melissa Brouwers. Denis successfully defended his dissertation, titled: Designing a knowledge translation tool for the development, appraisal and reporting of health systems guidance, on July 23, 2015 and convocated on 20 November 2015. He has since been providing his expertise as a Health Systems Consultant to the World Health Organization in Suriname.

Leslie Malloy-Weir

Leslie Malloy-Weir

Leslie Malloy-Weir began with McMaster University's Health Policy PhD program in September 2009. Leslie is a successful recipient of a 3 year Social Science Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) award. Her current research and health policy interests are in the areas of health literacy and treatment decision making. Her faculty supervisor was Lisa Schwartz with the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold L. Johnson Chair in Health Care Ethics, and Associate Member of the Department of Philosophy. Leslie is specifically looking at the conceptual and empirical relationships between patients' health literacy and patients' involvement in different forms of treatment decision making. Leslie is also looking at the evidence that both supports, and does not support, beliefs underlying federal-level legislation promoting the implementation of shared decision making in the United States. Leslie successfully defended her dissertation, titled: Definitions of health literacy and numeracy and their relevance for patient-physician communication and treatment decision making in the medical encounter, on August 25, 2015, then subsequently convocated on November 20, 2015. Leslie is holding a Post-Doc position at the University of Saskatchewan.

Junying Zhao

Junying Zhao

Junying Zhao obtained a Master's degree in public health from Harvard University supported by the United States Presidential Scholarship. She conducted consultancy and internship in forecasting health expenditures for the World Bank and the World Health Organization. She was also a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Injury Prevention with the Ministry of Health in Mexico. Zhao also earned a Medical degree and a Master's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in China before moving to North America. She was in the economics stream and her supervisor was Jeremiah Hurley. Junying has been using her interdisciplinary training in health and economics to extend endogenous growth theory and to explore theories in welfare economics. Her primary research interests include health expenditure (empirical, health economics), health capital and growth (theoretical, economic growth), and social choice theory (theoretical, welfare economics). Junying successfully defended her dissertation, titled: Three Essays in Welfare and Health Economics: social choice, health capital and health expenditure, on September 18, 2015 and convocated on November 20, 2015. Presently, Junying is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at UCI.

Elizabeth Alvarez

Elizabeth Alvarez

Elizabeth Alvarez received her MPH, Public Health Administration from Northwest Ohio Consortium for Public Health, and her MD from the Medical College of Ohio. She has worked in multiple healthcare settings in the US, Canada and Honduras, including disaster relief work, family medicine clinics, migrant camps, walk-in clinics, student health, assisting in surgery, and Indian Health Services in Arizona. Additionaly, she has worked as the Associate Medical Officer of Health in Thunder Bay, Ontario. There is an international study underway to see what low- and middle-income countries are currently doing in their efforts to use research evidence in policy-making. Her PhD work will look at policy dialogues as a knowledge translation tool in these knowledge platforms to determine what works and what could be learned to help other countries improve their knowledge translation efforts. Her interests lie in improving the use of research evidence in developing health services and public health policies, especially in low- and middle-in come countries. During the 2012-2013 academic year Liz was awarded an Ontario Graduate Fellowship by the Scholarships Committee of Graduate Council to fund exceptional scholars at McMaster. In May 2013 Liz was selected to receive the prestigious CIHR Vanier Scholarship in support of her dissertation research. On April 7, 2016, Liz successfuly defended her dissertation, titled: Developing and Evaluating the Use of a Workbook for Contextualizing Health Systems Guidance. Her primary supervisor was John Lavis. Liz now holds the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact.

Sandra Milicic

Sandra Milicic

Sandra Milicic is specializing in health economics and her research focuses on how various aspects of health are produced. More specifically her research aims to better understand the relationship between economic fluctuations and the health and health behaviours of Canadians. Her research uses measures of health that include mortality, general health, mental health and health behaviours. Furthermore, she aims to disentangle how different specifications of macroeconomic proxies affect what can be concluded about the above relationships. In addition to this work, she is part of a research team studying the role of policy dialogues as a mechanism to policy-maker decision-making. She has a Master and a Bachelor degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University. Her interdisciplinary training in economics, research methods and health policy equip her with a unique interpretive lens and flexibility in her approach to research and analysis. She was supervised by Phil DeCicca. On April 12, 2016, Sandra successfully defended her dissertation, titled: Economic Conditions, Health and Health Behaviours of Canadians. Presently, Sandra is holding a Post-Doc position at the University of Waterloo's School of Public Health and Health Systems.

Mustafa Ornek

Mustafa Ornek

Mustafa Ornek, who earned both a Master's and a Bachelor's degree in international economics and finance from Ryerson, has a keen interest in health economics theory and practice, which he believes is one of the most important aspects of life. He has researched evaluations of national health care systems, and plans to pursue his investigation of how health economics affect peoples lives. His current research work is focused on comparing body mass index (BMI) distributions of Canada and the United States (U.S.), using novel econometric techniques for this literature. He will be looking into socio-demographic factors that may affect the changes we observe in the BMI distribution of these populations. He is also interested in developing a method to compensate for over and underreport biases that are known to exist in self-reported BMI data in surveys. This method will be immediately useful in the Canadian context, where most of our survey data rely on self-reporting from the respondents. He is a teaching assistant and a research assistant at McMaster University. Ornek was co-supervised by Paul Contoyannis and Arthur Sweetman. On October 7, 2016 Mustafa successfully defended his dissertation, titled: The Body Mass Index (BMI): Measurement, Physician Costs and Distributional Decomposition. Mustafa now holds the position of Analyst, with Statistics Canada's Research Data Centre.

Mark Embrett


Mark Embrett received his Master's degree in Applied Health Services Research at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Prior to that he worked with the Capital Health District Authority performing social marketing and quality assurance research. He was also employed as a research manager in Dr. Patrick McGrath's Centre for Research in Family Health at the IWK Health Centre. The focus of his work was managing research on the effectiveness of paediatric preventative behavioural programs. The province's inability to incorporate evidence based health interventions into the public health insurance scheme puzzled Mark, which led to his interest in Health Policy. His primary dissertation research interest lies in the exploration of health policy disinvestment methods, barriers and challenges, especially in the field of health technology assessment. Mark also has interests in drug policy, the future of a national pharmaceutical program, and policy analysis of health equity in the social determinants of health. Currently, he is working on study gaps in mental health transition services from child to adult treatments, while progressing with his dissertation research. He was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for two consecutive years, in both the 2013 and 2014 academic years. He was supervised by Glen Randall. On December 12, 2016 Mark successfully defended his dissertation, titled: Developing a better understanding of resource withdrawal from medical services through examination of its characteristics, government policies, and an initiative. In 2017, Mark was awarded a 2-year Health System Impact Fellowship - a newly created fellowship program funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which matches newly trained health services and policy researchers with health system organizations across the country. Mark's host organization is Canada Health Infoway where he will be working on the following project: Evaluating consumer facing and virtual digital health solutions for patients with chronic disease. His academic supervisor is Dr. Gillian Mulvale from McMaster University.

Cristina Mattison

Cristina Mattison

Cristina Mattison was supervised by John Lavis. Her doctoral research interests focus on maternal health, in particular health systems strengthening through midwifery policy. Cristina has an M.Sc. in Global Health from McMaster University. Her previous research as a graduate student focused on obstetric fistula in low-resource settings, developing a Levels of Fistula Care Framework, which identified ways to strengthen health systems through the management of this obstetric injury. Most recently, Cristina has been working with EngenderHealth to evaluate the implementation of this Framework in Guinea, and on a multi-centre retrospective record review of indications for cesarean delivery in Bangladesh, Mali, Guinea, Niger, and Uganda. She has written several technical reports for United States Agency for International Development on these studies. Cristina has over a decade of health research experience ranging from arthritis and chronic pain, to HIV and rehabilitation, knowledge transfer and exchange, and maternal health. Cristina successfully defended her dissertation on September 6, 2017, titled: The Roles of Midwives in Health Systems. Cristina holds the position of Co-Lead of Evidence Synthesis at McMaster Health Forum.

Leigh-Anne Gillespie

Leigh-Anne Gillespie

Leigh-Anne Gillespie obtained her MSc in Health Research Methodology from McMaster University. While completing her MSc, she held Teaching Assistant appointments in the Faculty of Health Sciences. She also volunteered with the Centre for Global Health in Ottawa on a project relating to the development of an evidence-based framework to assist policymakers in assessing the impact of health policies. Prior to joining the Health Policy PhD program, she worked as a Research Assistant in evidence-informed public health. She has a keen research interest in humanitarian health care ethics and policy. Leigh-Anne's thesis research focuses on better understanding aid agency policies and agendas, and ethical challenges in disaster response and complex humanitarian emergencies in low-income countries. Leigh-Anne was supervised by Lisa Schwartz. On September 11, 2017 Leigh-Anne successfully defended her dissertation, titled: "Ethics is a part of that as well": Navigating the Landscape of Humanitarian Healthcare Policy. Presently, Leigh-Anne holds the position of Marketing Specialist at SAS Canada.

International Exchange Students

The students listed here have been selected through an International Exchange program between McMaster University and Makerere University in Uganda. Nelson Sewankambo (Makerere University) and John Lavis (their McMaster academic supervisor) were awarded, by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), an International Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Policies and Systems, which is linked to John Lavis's Canada Research Chair.

A memorandum of understanding on academic and research cooperation between McMaster and Makerere Universities was signed in December 2010. The memorandum supports cooperation on a 41-country study of knowledge-translation platforms in low- and middle-income countries and particularly the parts of the study being executed in 10 African countries. A student exchange agreement between the two universities was signed in January 2011.

Pierre Ongolo-Zogo

Pierre Ongolo-Zogo was supervised by John Lavis and was the first Makerere University exchange student to join the Health Policy PhD program, which he successfully completed in December 2012. Pierre has since returned to Cameroon where he is a physician at Yaoundé Central Hospital. He holds a M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from the Université de Grenoble I – Joseph Fourier, and an MD from Université Lyon I - Claude Bernard, in France.

As a leading health advocate in the African nation of Cameroon, he has extensive involvement at the international level with promoting better healthcare. He was the inaugural Director of Health Operations Research in Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health from 2003 to 2008, during which he conceived and implemented a national commission on health research. He has served in advisory and consulting positions with various initiatives of the World Health Organization, and has represented Cameroon at numerous international health fora. His main research interest is in knowledge translation, consequently he has established a knowledge translation centre that will facilitate the use of research findings promoting better health in the Central African sub-region. He is also interested in the areas of healthcare delivery and multidisciplinary research in health and population studies. Pierre is now Head of the Centre for the Development of Best Practices in Health.

Rhona Mijumbi

Rhona Mijumbi was supervised by John Lavis, from September 2012 to August 2013. She successfully completed her HP PhD graduate exchange and has returned to Kampala, Uganda where she is a program officer with the Supporting Use of Research Evidence (SURE) for policy in African health systems project at Makerere University.

She holds a master’s degree in international health policy from the University of Queensland, Australia, a M.Sc. in epidemiology and biostatistics from Makerere University, and a bachelor degree in medicine and surgery from Uganda's Mbarara University of Technology and Science. She has worked as a senior medical officer with various organizations in Uganda. Her thesis is focused on developing a rapid response service to meet policymakers’ urgent needs for health systems research evidence in Uganda.

André Zida

André Zida's supervisor was John Lavis. He joined the Health Policy PhD program in January 2013, as a doctoral student from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He concluded his PhD studies in December 2013.

André is Chief of the Department of National Health Accounts and Health Financing, Ministry of Health, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Boniface Mutatini Boniface Mutatina began his exchange at the beginning of January 2014 which continued until the end of April 2014. He is the last of two exchange students to join the HP PhD program under the cooperative IDRC exchange agreement, held by Nelson Sewankambo (Makerere University) in partnership and under John Lavis' supervision. He plans to return to the Health Policy program to complete his thesis work in the winter of 2016 and subsequently defend his PhD.

Boniface is a Research Scientist at the Injury Control Centre in Kampala, Uganda. He volunteers with the Supporting Use of Research Evidence (SURE) for policy in African Health Systems project. His research interests focus on evaluating knowledge translation platforms.

Ekwaro Obuku Ekwaro Obuku also began his exchange at the start of January 2014 which continued through until the end of April 2014. He is also one of the final two exchange students to take part in the HP PhD program exchange agreement, under the supervision of John Lavis. He too plans to return to the Health Policy program in the winter of 2016 to complete his thesis research and later defend his PhD.

Ekwaro is a Physician and Clinical Researcher implementing large projects focused on tuberculosis and HIV. As a Research Fellow in Global Health at the Joint Clinical Research Centre in Kampala, Uganda, he studies childhood TB, optimizing TB diagnostics in low-income countries, and HIV in adults over the age of 50.

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