The Fourth Annual Public Health Symposium: US/Canada Academic Collaboration in the Pacific Northwest was held in La Conner, Washington, 9-10 January 2009. Over 75 faculty and graduate students from UW’s School of Public Health, University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health, and Simon Fraser Faculty of Health Sciences participated in the event. Jack Thompson and Bud Nicola, Department of Health Services and Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, UW School of Public Health, Laurie Goldsmith, Simon Frasier University Faculty of Health Sciences, and David Patrick, University of British Columbia School of Population and Community Health, served as this year’s chairs.
The Symposium opened Friday afternoon with ten excellent student poster sessions. Jack Thompson from the University of Washington School of Public Health convened the afternoon session with opening remarks from Martin Schechter, Director of the University of British Columbia, School of Population and Public Health; John O’Neil, Dean of the Simon Fraser University, Faculty of Health Sciences; and Patricia Wahl, Dean, UW School of Public Health. There were two plenary presentations on Friday and one Saturday morning covering diverse topics of international interest. These included treating heroin addiction in British Columbia, challenges in measuring health status in the US, and applying complexity systems approaches to addressing the obesity epidemic.
In addition to a wonderful dinner and fellowship on Friday evening, participants were treated to jazz from an impromptu assembly of musicians from symposium participants. All present were amazed at the level of talent – both in terms of musicianship and vocal talent – displayed by participants.
As has been the tradition from earlier symposia, the Saturday session then broke into inter-school break out groups in which faculty and students from each of the universities provided updates and new information to colleagues in the areas of health services research, infectious diseases, population health, global health, aboriginal health, and maternal and child health. The closing sessions summarized the learning from the plenary and breakout sessions. There seemed to be much interest and enthusiasm on the part of all of the participants. The annual symposium on cross-border public health has truly succeeded in bringing together researchers on both sides of the border to in compare best practices and to build international research networks.
This project was supported, in part, by funding from a Canadian Studies Center Program Enhancement Grant, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.