Published: November 10, 2006

Chief Scientist’s term ends

As September drew to an end, so did the tenure of the Institute’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Tony Culyer. The Chief Scientist’s role is the senior scientific position at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH). It has the twin responsibilities for stewarding the scientific excellence of IWH, and aligning its research priorities and commitments to contribute to the research needs of stakeholders, says President Dr. Cam Mustard.

Over the past three years, Culyer excelled in both respects. He came to IWH as an internationally renowned health economist with expertise in knowledge translation and clinical practice guidelines.

He brought with him an enthusiastic confidence that IWH could be more of a national and even international institution than it already was, says Mustard.

Culyer was also “a strong champion of knowledge transfer, and of developing new forms of packaging research evidence to make it accessible to non-research partners.”

He was equally appreciated for his engaging leadership style and sense of humour. After arriving at the Institute, he interviewed all staff to develop a sense of the organization, which led to focus groups, and informed his work in strategic planning.

His commitment to a collaborative and consultative style of decision-making, was a key contribution to the Institute, says Sandra Sinclair, Director of Operations. In addition, he was instrumental in establishing the systematic review program at the Institute, says Jane Gibson, Director of Knowledge Transfer & Exchange.

Another role of the position is to strengthen IWH’s external relations. His contributions have been recognized by many organizations. For example, he has been asked to chair the Research Advisory Council of the Ontario Workplace Safety & Insurance Board.

The position of Chief Scientist was, in fact, created in recognition of Culyer’s senior stature in the scientific community, notes Sinclair. Although his term has ended, Culyer is staying on at IWH into mid-2007 as a part-time senior scientist.

New Scientific Director appointed

Dr. Benjamin Amick has been appointed the Institute’s new Scientific Director, effective January 2007. Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Amick was an Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Texas. He was also Associate Director for Education, Training and Leadership Development for the Texas Institute for Society and Health.

SAC Chair named Royal Fellow

Dr. Clyde Hertzman, Chair of the Institute’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Hertzman is also a Canada Research Chair Tier 1, and Professor in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Syme Fellowships awarded

Three PhD students have received S. Leonard Syme Training Fellowships in Work & Health this year.

Dana Howse, who is at the University of Toronto, will explore workers’ reporting behaviours on symptoms of occupational asthma.

Janet McLaughlin is also at the University of Toronto. She is studying health and human rights among Mexican and Caribbean migrant agricultural workers.

Stephanie Premji, who is at the Université du Québec in Montreal, is evaluating the relation between the ethnic composition of jobs and associated risk of injury and illness in Montreal workers.

This fellowship program was created to recognize Dr. S. Leonard Syme’s contributions to the Institute as Chair of its Scientific Advisory Committee from 1995-2002.

New Back Review Group editor

The Cochrane Back Review Group, which is housed at the Institute, has a new co-ordinating editor. Past editor Dr. Lex Bouter, who is also a member of IWH’s Scientific Advisory Committee, has taken the position of Vice Chancellor at the Vrije University and Windesheim in the Netherlands.

Dr. Maurits van Tulder replaces him as the new co-ordinating editor, joining Dr. Claire Bombardier. Van Tulder is a senior researcher at the Vrije University. He is an author or co-author of 14 Back Group reviews.

Vicki Pennick, who is based at IWH and has worked with the Back Review Group for a number of years, has recently been appointed Managing Editor. For more information, see

Minister’s youth group formed

Dr. Cam Mustard, IWH President, has been invited to participate in a youth action group organized by Ontario Minister of Labour Steve Peters. Its purpose is to identify solutions to prevent injuries among workers aged 25 or younger who are out of school. Members include youth, labour market experts, and labour and employer representatives.