York University prof appointed to senior role in health organization

Globe with first aid health on it

Professor and Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair Steven Hoffman will join Wellcome Trust, the world’s third-largest foundation supporting global health research, for an 18-month secondment as an interim chief of staff.

One of the world’s leading global health law scholars, Hoffman’s new role will see him support the day-to-day management of Wellcome Trust, advance the strategic priorities of the organization and serve as a member of its executive leadership team. Over the course of his tenure, he will also continue to dedicate time to his research at York.

Steven Hoffman
Steven Hoffman

“I am very excited about this new role with Wellcome, and I’m also grateful for the opportunity to remain connected with York during this period,” says Hoffman. “The University’s incredible support for this secondment signals its commitment to achieving global social impact and supporting many different ways of advancing knowledge and the public good.”

The new role is a significant opportunity, as the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust – with its approximately $63-billion endowment and $2.7 billion in research grants funded each year – is a leader in solving urgent health challenges across the world. It has looked to advance biomedical research, open access and data initiatives, and more.

“Steven’s appointment to such a senior leadership role in a prominent organization advancing health research is an example of York expertise creating positive change toward our goal of building a healthy world for all,” says Faculty of Health Dean David Peters.

Hoffman was selected for the role based on an already lengthy and accomplished career – frequently combining law and epidemiology ­– focused on the global governance of health threats.

An elected member of the Royal Society of Canada, he has previously worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, and the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General in New York City. Between 2016 and 2022, he served as scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Population & Public Health. Recently, he also served as the vice-president for data, surveillance and foresight at the Public Health Agency of Canada, where he led the branch’s 400 employees in implementing the Government of Canada’s $436-million transformation of the agency’s core capabilities following the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At York, Hoffman has built and led the Global Strategy Lab – one of Canada’s largest social science research institutes – which is a WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance.

Earlier this year, he also received $200,000 in funding from the government of Ontario to advance a groundbreaking new field of research, global legal epidemiology, to improve the equity and effectiveness of international law and to better prepare Ontario for global health threats.

The selection of Hoffman for this pivotal role with a leading global health research funder highlights the talent the York University’s Faculty of Health has been able to attract and retain, notes Peters. “This is an excellent opportunity for Steven and, by extension, York’s Faculty of Health and York University as a whole, to make an impactful contribution towards advancing health research,” he says.