This month, York Professor Steven Hoffman will begin a new role as vice-president corporate data and surveillance at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). As the former scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Institute of Population and Public Health, he brings significant expertise to the agency to help shape the future of public health responses in Canada.
During this time, Hoffman will also continue to direct York University’s Global Strategy Lab and the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance. Hoffman is the Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance & Legal Epidemiology.
At PHAC, he will lead the modernization of Canada’s public health data architecture, surveillance systems and risk assessment capabilities in anticipation of future public health needs. All of this work will draw upon lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overseeing the significant expansion of the agency’s data and surveillance branch, the goal is to deliver on the Government of Canada’s $436-million commitment to expand the ability to detect, understand and act on public health threats. This will also involve building close working relationships with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous colleagues from across Canada, as well as global partners and representatives from universities, civil society and the private sector.
“Today we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize Canada’s public health data architecture, surveillance systems, and risk assessment capabilities. The work will be challenging, but it needs to be done, and I am excited to use my skillset and experience to help make a positive impact here,” said Hoffman. “I am so pleased to remain part of the York University community while working for the Public Health Agency of Canada, which will be a source of strength to advance this effort.”
“This is incredibly important work and Professor Hoffman is uniquely positioned to create positive change by strengthening our response to future global health challenges. His experience with overseeing ground-breaking research and building capacity across the country and globally will be essential to this role,” said Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic.
Hoffman spent six years with CIHR, launching their Healthy Cities Research Initiative, co-leading Canada’s rapid research response to the COVID-19 pandemic and leading the Equitable AI Initiative. He also helped to set and implement CIHR’s strategic directions in global health as the agency’s lead for this area. As co-lead on CIHR’s rapid research response to Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo (2018) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020), the institute was able to create the world’s fastest research response to COVID-19 by government. In June of 2022, under his direction, the Institute of Population and Public Health also launched a new strategic plan, Transforming Public Health. The plan lays a future path for the Institute, with direction from Canada’s population and public health research, practice and policy community as well as partners from around the world