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Dr. Samira Mubareka named Applied Public Health Chair

March 28, 2024

Dr. Samira Mubareka, infectious disease physician, medical microbiologist and scientist at Sunnybrook, has received an Applied Public Health Chair, co-funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The national honour, which comes with $1,150,000 in support, is held for a six-year term by a researcher tackling pressing public health challenges. Dr. Mubareka and the 11 other newly-appointed Chairs will work with stakeholders to support evidence-informed decisions that improve health and health equity. Together, they will help guide public health policy and decisions around challenges such as climate change, the emerging pathogens and widening health inequities.

The focus of Dr. Mubareka’s Chair is to use a One Health approach that examines the interconnections between humans, animals and their environment in order to develop adaptive and innovative approaches to prevent zoonotic pathogen spillover between species. This builds on collaborative research with wildlife disease ecologists, computational biologists, epidemiologists, virologists, and many other colleagues in human and animal health.

The honour highlights Dr. Mubareka’s ongoing leadership in One Health, pandemic response, and surveillance of viral zoonoses like SARS-CoV-2. In the past few years, she has chaired the Royal Society of Canada’s COVID-19 Task Force's One Health Working Group, and collaboratively co-founded a multidisciplinary research collective, the Wildlife Emerging Pathogen Initiative (Wild EPI). In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Mubareka and colleagues isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a Level 3 containment facility, which helped researchers in Canada develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines and gain a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 biology. Dr. Mubareka will continue working with the Royal Society of Canada and other key partners on knowledge mobilization around One Health.

“I’m honoured to be a part of the CIHR-PHAC Applied Public Health Chair Program,” says Dr. Mubareka. “This funding will enable our collaborative group to apply One Health approaches to emerging pathogen surveillance, and bring together scientists, practitioners, policy makers to address drivers of zoonotic spillover.”