2023 Trailblazer Award Winners

The CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health (CIHR IPPH) Trailblazer Award supports early, mid and senior career researchers who continue to make exceptional contributions that promote population and public health for Canadians and citizens around the world through evidenced-based health policies as well as interventions.

CIHR-IPPH is pleased to announce the 2023 CIHR-IPPH Trailblazer Award Winners:

‘The Trailblazer Awards recognize individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the field of population and public health research. This year’s awardees are no exception.

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate the winners of the 2023 CIHR-IPPH Trailblazer Awards - Julio Montaner, Kate Storey and Travis Salway. Through their leadership and unwavering commitment to collaboration and health equity, each of the award winners have not only had remarkable academic accomplishments, but also made a lasting impact in the communities in which they work.’

Jennifer Gunning, Associate Director, IPPH

Senior Career Researcher: Julio Montaner

Dr. Julio Montaner is a Killam Professor of Medicine, at the University of British Columbia, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS’ Executive Director and Physician-in-Chief, and the Head of HIV/AIDS, at St. Paul's Hospital, Providence Health Care. Julio is widely recognized as one of the fathers of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which has proven to be exquisitely effective to prevent AIDS and premature death. For his work in this area, The Lancet named him the “King of HAART”. In 2006, he went on to pioneer the notion that HAART also stops HIV transmission. He coined the term "Treatment as Prevention" (TasP), to convey the triple benefit of HAART to stop; 1) progression to AIDS, 2) AIDS deaths, and 3) HIV transmission. In 2015, his TasP-inspired 90-90-90 by 2020 Target was formally endorsed by the UN in 2015, and subsequently his 95-95-95 by 2025 Target [ PDF (641 KB) - external link ] was endorsed by the UN in 2021 as the global strategy to “End AIDS as a Pandemic”. Currently, Julio has expanded his efforts to adapt TasP to optimize and accelerate the control of other impactful contagious diseases (including infectious diseases [i.e.: HCV], as well as socially contagious diseases [i.e.: type II Diabetes, COPD, opioid use]), with the ultimate goal to enhance Health Care Sustainability.


Hello, my name is Julio Montaner. I am the Director of the Centre for Excellence in HIV and Aids at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. I am also a Killam Professor of Medicine at the University of British Colombia.

It gives me great pleasure to come in front of you today to deeply thank CIHR and specifically, the Institute of Population and Public Health, for the Trailblazer award for the year 2023.

Some four decades ago, a previously unknown epidemic hit our shores. It was HIV/AIDS. We didn’t know how to get out of this but through research and target implementation of the results of our research, by 1996 we were able to bring the news the world, that our new discovery of highly active antiretroviral therapy will actually dramatically change the course of epidemic at an individual level. That it could stop, origin to AIDS and premature death. Within a decade, we came to realize, again, based on our research, that by treating individuals infected with HIV/AIDS we could also render them non-infectious, so that we could start in breaking down the epidemic in a cost affirming fashion.

We then created a strategy of treatment and prevention, being that if we offered treatment, in an similar fashion to everybody infected with HIV globally then we would actually see the end of the pandemic in any local that was able to do this.

This led to the 90-90-90 and the 95-95-95 targets that have now been adopted by The United Nations as their roadmap for the elimination of HIV/AIDS globally as a pandemic concern.

We are proud of our achievements, and we thank CIHR and the Institute of Population and Public Health for the recognition. Thank you very much.

Mid-Career Researcher: Kate Storey

Dr. Kate Storey is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, CIHR/PHAC Applied Public Health Chair, and Distinguished Researcher, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. Dr. Storey is a Member of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute and also a Centre for Healthy Communities Scientist (Research Lead: Healthy School Communities). Dr. Storey built on her experience in community-based participatory research, school health, qualitative methods, and implementation science to develop a novel research program SIRCLE (Settings-based Intervention Research through Changes in Lifestyles & Environments). SIRCLE focuses on school- and community-based strategies to promote wellbeing, prevent chronic diseases, and reduce health inequities. Dr. Storey’s work aims to create a culture of wellness for children, their families, and their communities through systems-level change. An established leader in creating healthy communities, her team has implemented, evaluated, and ‘rippled’ (scaled) healthy living programs in communities with thousands of children across Canada and internationally and has established partnerships across sectors and levels to facilitate sustainability. Her work has shown that centring community-based interventions on the strengths of communities and youth voice is effective in improving health behaviours, can be ‘rippled’ (scaled), and has established essential conditions of implementation. Notably, her work on the Essential Conditions has been adopted into Canadian policy and practice as the Canadian Healthy School Standards.


Wow, what an incredible honour! My name is Kate Storey and I am humbled and grateful to accept the CIHR Trailblazer Award from my home in Edmonton, Alberta, treaty 6 territory.

I am an Associate Professor, CIHR Applied Public Health Chair, and Distinguished Researcher with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and Women and Children’s Health Research Institute. I am a passionate scientist, an ambassador for child and youth health, and an avid runner and cyclist. And I’m a mom to two young children who remind me daily that their voice matters in driving change to create healthy communities.

I lead the SIRCLE Research Lab. SIRCLE delivers and evaluates school-based healthy living programs across Canada and internationally. Together our team has informed how school communities implement population health interventions to reduce health inequities. The environments where we live, work, learn, and play shape our health and well-being. We need supportive and inclusive environments so that everyone benefits.

Our work has shifted the focus of interventions away from individual health behaviours, towards settings-based approaches that build on the strengths of communities and address the broader determinants of health. We know that facilitating a healthy lifestyle is much more than telling people to eat healthy, be active, sleep well, stop smoking, or be mindful.

Rather, we create a culture of wellness for children, their families, and their communities through systems-level change. We create places and spaces where healthy kids live in healthy communities, and where all children and youth have an equal opportunity to grow and thrive and know their voice matters.

Situating my research program primarily within a school context has been deliberate. Schools are powerful settings to build healthy communities, reaching nearly all children during critical developmental years. And most importantly health is a precondition for learning. Schools are also community hubs, linking directly to the home and community, and provide an inclusive approach to population health. Projects of the SIRCLE Lab are diverse but all center around the core principles of equity and youth voice. We focus on understanding who is not there, and work with youth to co-design strategies to promote health. We take an implementation science approach and use innovative mixed methods that align with community-based participatory research. This includes arts-based approaches such as photovoice, go-along interviews, sharing and talking circles, and social network analysis.

I have greatly benefited from extraordinary mentorship and believe the impact I have can only be achieved through the development of the next generation of scientists. I believe mentorship means constantly striving to expand my knowledge, skills, and worldview. My goal is to remain reflexive and to continuously grow and stretch.

Research is relational, and the work that I lead is grounded in partnerships with deeply connected teams. These relationships are the most important part of my work. So, what does this award mean? To me this award recognizes that meaningful, impactful, and equitable health research is community, connections, gratitude, passion, and most importantly vulnerability and growth. I am honoured to be named a CIHR Trailblazer.

Thank you.

Early-Career Researcher: Travis Salway

Travis Salway (he/him) is a social epidemiologist who works to understand and improve the health of Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (2S/LGBTQ) populations. Since 2019, Travis is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and conducts research in affiliation with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. In 2019-2020, he testified for two standing committees of the Canadian House of Commons, to inform federal policy to promote 2S/LGBTQ health equity. This resulted in the passage of Bill C-4, making it a crime to perpetrate anti-2S/LGBTQ practices, otherwise known as “conversion therapy.” Travis directs the REAFFIRM Collaborative, an interdisciplinary team committed to researching 2S/LGBTQ+ health and supports the Two-Spirit Dry Lab, Turtle Island’s first research group exclusively dedicated to understanding the health of Two-Spirit Indigenous people. He is the founder of MindMapBC, a 2S/LGBTQ-affirming mental health service finder.


My name is Travis Salway. I'm an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, where I work in affiliation with the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, and the Center for Gender and Sexual Health Equity. I'm grateful and honored by the Early Career Trailblazer Award from the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health, and I want to accept that award on behalf of my entire research team, and collaborators at Simon Fraser University. Our research team looks at Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer - or 2SLGBTQ identities. We try to understand the settings in which those identities are made visible, where those identities are affirmed, and even celebrated, and in turn we try to understand how affirmation of those identities affects the health of the 2SLGBTQ population. Because research is strengthened by the perspectives of those with living experience, I've asked some of the students I work with to answer the following question: Why is it important to increase Two-Spirit and LGBTQ visibility within public health research?

Ren Lo: Health Equity is a fundamental principle in public health and research that captures the diversity of queer and trans people advances this goal. Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people have unique intersectional and cultural identities and experiences. These individuals deserve to be supported, affirmed, and recognized. Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people are underrepresented in research as a whole, and increasing their visibility will give us the knowledge we need to support their health. As movements for trans liberation continue, research that captures the reality and possibility of trans lives is important.

Martha Gumprich: More visibility of non-binary researchers in public health research means that more students will feel like there's a place for them. As Marian Wright Edelman once said, “you can't be what you can't see.” And seeing non-binary researchers makes me feel like there is a place for me, and that there's a future for me in this field and that when I enter a room like I know that someone will understand my experiences, in a way that cis[gender] people just cannot.

Milo Ira: So the reason that it is important to increase visibility for Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people in healthcare is because due to the increasing visibility at this time we have greater healthcare needs that we are in a position where - because of our invisibility at the healthcare level - we are Becoming self-advocates and because we've had to learn to organize and to advocate for ourselves with the resources we have, we have become a great resource and a great font of knowledge to help improve the health of Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people.

Harlan Pruden: As a Two-Spirit community organizer, I can't think of no other better person, or deserving, than Travis. What I would like to share with you with the short time together is what Travis will bring for you. I can think of no other better person to be an ambassador and to have their name associated with them. Where Travis walks he walks with his heart, and with a sense of curiosity that makes him so incredibly beautiful, and such an incredible ambassador for humanity.

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