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2009 NHRC Keynote Speaker

In the keynote presentation delivered at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s (NOSM) fourth annual Northern Health Research Conference (NHRC), Dr. Kue Young, Professor and TransCanada Pipelines Chair, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, delivered his presentation “Why Am I Here? A Southern Academic’s Perspective on Northern Health Research.”

A common theme of the presentations, in both the physical and social sciences, delivered at the NHRC was the focus on improving the health of people and communities in Northern Ontario. In his keynote address, Dr. Young drew attention to the importance of collaboration which, he said, is essential for achieving measurable results and for building research capacity among partners.

Dr. Young also called for greater participation of Northern communities in the research process. Drawing on his experience as a health practitioner in Northern Ontario, and his current activities as Chair in Aboriginal Health at the University of Toronto, he cautioned against historical research practices which typically minimize community involvement. Respect for, and acknowledgement of, the different ways of knowing are keys to healthy partnerships, he said.

Several research initiatives were highlighted by Dr. Young with a broad Northern focus, including the Indigenous Health Research Development Program (IHRDP). The IHRDP is committed to a student-centred approach to community-based health research in Ontario and focuses on community-driven research projects that identify health-related issues in Aboriginal communities.

An active research department, such as the one at NOSM, Dr. Young said, supports a robust curriculum and well-rounded institution. “The main mission of a medical school is to train physicians, but it is equally important to acquire new knowledge. Without research as a means of gaining knowledge, a medical school is not complete.”


Dr. Kue Young is a graduate of McGill University (B.Sc. in biological sciences and M.D.), University of Toronto (M.Sc. in community health) and the University of Oxford (D.Phil. in biological anthropology). He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, with specialty certification in community medicine.

Dr. Young spent much of his professional career in northern Canada, including as a general practitioner with the University of Toronto Sioux Lookout Program and later Medical Director of the Sioux Lookout Zone of Medical Services Branch, Health and Welfare Canada. He served as a CUSO volunteer in Tanzania training “medical assistants”, a cadre of front-line rural health workers who underwent an intensive three-year course after secondary school in order to provide primary health care in the rural areas. He has also served as consultant for CIDA and CPHA in the Philippines, India and Zimbabwe.

In 1983 he joined the Department of Community Health Sciences of the University of Manitoba, where he founded the Northern Health Research Unit. From 1998 to 2001 he was Department Head. In January 2002 he began his new appointment as Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences of the University of Toronto.

In 2004, Dr. Young was appointed to the TransCanada Pipelines Chair in Aboriginal Health at the University of Toronto. Dr. Young’s major research interest is in the area of northern and Aboriginal health, particularly in the epidemiology and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Young has published over 100 articles in both the biomedical and social science literature and six books. He was recipient of the Senior Investigator award of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for two terms. In 1993 he was elected President of the International Union for Circumpolar Health, a federation of scientific organizations in Canada, USA, Scandinavia and Russia, devoted to improving the health of the populations in countries around the North Pole.