The Future is Public Health

Some of the greatest opportunities to transform our society and achieve a healthy, inclusive, and sustainable future lie in public health. With three focused priority initiatives, over the next five years IPPH will work with Canada’s population and public health research community and stakeholders to tackle some of the biggest health challenges and inequities of our time.

Healthy Cities – amplifying impact

Canadian researchers have already been instrumental in identifying what makes a city healthy, yet challenges remain in scaling this research into real-world applications that benefit everyone. With 82% of Canadians now living in cities, and urbanization a growing global trend, research on implementing tested interventions is essential for maximizing the health-promoting potential of urban environments.

Equitable AI – activating opportunities

Artificial intelligence approaches like machine learning provide new opportunities for public health to both advance health equity through the analysis of complex, multi-layered, multi-modal data, as well as design impactful solutions that draw on a far wider range of insights. Public health must also champion the ethical use of AI to minimize the potentially harmful effects of bias in AI-generated evidence and to ensure algorithms are designed equitably.

Global Health Policy – applying evidence

Canadians are frequently invited to work with international partners to tackle complex global health challenges and improve health for all. With new responsive funding mechanisms and strategic networks, public health can make even greater contributions in addressing global health emergencies and developing evidence-informed health policies that achieve global impact.

IPPH Strategic Directions 2018-2023

Our approach:

IPPH will use the full range of mechanisms and tools available to advance shared priorities and catalyze broader systemic impact. More than just funding, we are also leading, convening, engaging, communicating, advising, governing, and evaluating.

Healthy Cities – Funding, leading, convening, engaging, governing, advising
Objectives Activities Tools
Strengthen Canada’s global leadership in healthy cities research Supporting opportunities for large-scale, interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral, pan-Canadian intervention and implementation science initiatives in urban environments Funding, leading
Train future researchers in implementation science for healthy cities Developing a national strategic training initiative for doctoral and post-doctoral students on the science of implementing tested solutions in cities Funding, convening
Support evidence use in urban planning and policymaking Facilitating opportunities for healthy cities research to be co-owned by researchers, policymakers, implementers, and the communities they serve Engaging, governing
Equitable AI – Leading, convening, communicating, engaging
Objectives Activities Tools
Catalyze new research areas at the intersection of AI and public health Seeding interdisciplinary collaborations among AI and public health researchers, especially on the ethical, legal and social challenges of AI Convening, funding
Build capacity to use AI approaches in public health research Launching a national summer school for graduate students and early career researchers to learn AI skills and apply them to public health challenges Leading, engaging
Nurture dialogue about the use of AI in public health decision-making Starting discussions on the benefits, challenges and opportunities of applying AI generated evidence to policies, practices and programs Convening, communicating
Global Health Policy – Governing, evaluating, funding
Objectives Activities Tools
Position Canada to be a leader in global health emergency research Identifying mechanisms to rapidly fund public health research during global health emergencies Governing, evaluating
Bolster policy-relevant research on challenges with global implications Investing in key global health research areas such as antimicrobial resistance and chronic disease prevention Funding, advising
Pursue opportunities to Institutionalize the use of evidence in global health policymaking Mobilizing networks of researchers, research funders and policymakers, especially around social science research on infectious diseases Funding, governing


A thriving society is a healthy society and when we think about health, we often think of healthcare and medicine. While these factors greatly impact our health, so do government policies, access to economic opportunities, transportation infrastructure and nutritious food.

Some of the greatest opportunities to achieve a healthy, inclusive, and sustainable future lie in public health.

With a few strategic investments, we can improve health and build a better future in Canada, and around the world.

Healthy Cities

Research shows that our postal code can be a better predictor of health than our genetic code.

With 82% of Canadians living in cities, in order to improve our health, we need to understand how urban environments shape our health.

Our Healthy Cities priority area will help us  build our cities so that a decision that improves health is also a decision that is easy to make.

By enabling researchers and decision-makers to work together, we can tackle challenges like homelessness, obesity, and isolation.

Public health can transform our cities into engines of good health, helping Canadians to be as healthy as they can be.

Equitable AI

We’re unprepared for changing times. In order to tackle today’s health challenges, public health must adopt new technologies and develop innovative solutions.

Think about all the data that was created from the beginning of time to 2003. Today, we create the same amount of data in only two days.

Through our Equitable AI priority area, we will support public health to tap into the enormous potential of these methods and technologies.

Collaborating with computer and data scientists will allow public health researchers to analyze more complex data and design innovative solutions for social problems, with an eye on equity to maximize benefits and minimize harm.

We need to ensure that these technologies are being used in a fair and responsible way so that the well-being of all Canadians is at the forefront of innovation.

Global Health Policy

Health is global, where we share risk we also share responsibility.

Responding to global health threats isn’t easy and presents unique challenges that are difficult to overcome.

Our Global health policy priority area will help generate the evidence needed to make decisions that improve health around the world.

When it comes to concerns like Ebola, antimicrobial resistance, and tobacco use, we need to work collaboratively across countries, cultures, and contexts.

By mobilizing networks of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, we can make informed decisions, quickly respond to emergencies, and prevent crises from happening in the first place.

Public health  allows us to protect ourselves while helping others at the same time.


The Institute of Population and Public Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is funding research, building expertise, and mobilizing knowledge in these areas because public health will help us build a better future.

Visit Institute of Population and Public Health to learn more about the work we’re doing in these areas.

View our past strategic plans: Strategic plan 2009–2014Strategic plan 2015–2018.

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