McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Lavis to lead international project

Published: February 26, 2009
John Lavis
John Lavis, an associate professor in the departments of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and political science.

As the Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Transfer and Exchange, John Lavis has worked to understand how policymakers in federal and provincial governments use research knowledge to make policy decisions about health and health care.

Now, the associate professor, who holds appointments in the departments of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and political science, will take that research to a new level as he partners with a McMaster alumnus in Africa on an international study about turning health research into policy.

The project is part of the International Research Chairs Initiative (IRCI), a program sponsored by Canada's International Development Research Centre in collaboration with the Canada Research Chairs Program.

Lavis, director of the McMaster Health Forum, and Chris Wood, biologist and the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Health, are the McMaster research chairs to be selected for the initiative.

"There were eight research teams chosen from across Canada around the world for the IRCI, and of those eight, McMaster garnered two prestigious International Research Chairs partnerships," said Mo Elbestawi, vice-president of research and international affairs.

"I can't say enough how satisfying it is for the University to have such phenomenal success and it speaks volumes — not only to Drs. Lavis and Wood's research talent — but also to the ongoing research excellence that places McMaster at the forefront of global discovery."

Lavis has partnered with Dr. Nelson Sewankambo, principal of the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University and a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Sewankambo holds a M.Sc. in clinical epidemiology and an honorary doctorate of laws from McMaster University.

As a team, Lavis and Sewankambo will receive up to $1 million over five years to study "knowledge translation platforms" developed by the World Health Organization. These platforms seek to convert research knowledge into programs and policy to improve the effectiveness of the health system. Of the 28 platforms, 11 are based in African countries.

"Whether it's addressing the adherence to tuberculosis medications in Cameroon or the implications of male circumcision in Kenya as an HIV prevention strategy, we hope to address the top concerns in each of the eleven countries," Lavis said.

Wood, a professor in the Department of Biology, is paired with Adalto Bianchini of Brazil and will receive up to $1 million over five years to battle increasing pollution in Brazil's coastal areas. From what they learn at the Brazil site, they will determine what is applicable to the Hamilton Harbour cleanup.

The formal announcement of the International Research Chairs Initiative was made Feb. 25 by the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

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