OHS Leadership

Dr. Philip Awadalla

The Ontario Health Study (OHS) is proud to welcome Dr. Philip Awadalla as the Study’s new Principal Investigator. Dr. Awadalla replaces Dr. Mark Purdue, who had led the OHS since September of 2014.

Dr. Awadalla completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 2001. He then completed a NSERC/Killam Trust Fellowship and Wellcome Trust postdoctoral fellowship at the U. of British Columbia (2001) and U. of California, Davis and Edinburgh (2001 – 2003), respectively.

Currently, Dr. Awadalla is a Professor with the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Toronto and a Senior Investigator at the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research, Informatics and Biocomputing. He is also a Professor of medical and population genetics at the Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, and in the Department of Biochemistry, McGill University. 

In addition to leading the OHS, Dr. Awadalla was the Principal Investigator of the Quebec-based CARTaGENE project that he led from 2009-2015, and along with the OHS, is a member cohort of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP). Given his previous roles and experience managing large health research studies, and his research activities in quantitative and population genetics, Dr. Awadalla offers exceptional leadership to the OHS.

Past Leadership

Dr. John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin, PhD, is a Senior Scientist and Research Director at Public Health Ontario, and Professor of Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. He served as Founding Director of the Ontario Health Study from 2007 to 2010, after many years of working with teams from across Ontario and Canada to develop plans and obtain funding for the Ontario and pan-Canadian programs. Dr. McLaughlin directed the launch and conduct of the Ontario pilot phase, which demonstrated and evaluated the principles, methods, logistics and feasibility of the large, province-wide, health research platform that integrates personal, environmental, community and biological measures. During that time, the operations and scientific teams were based at Cancer Care Ontario, interdisciplinary support was provided by scientists from across Ontario, and the team worked with colleagues across Canada and internationally to harmonize OHS with other major initiatives.

Dr. Lyle Palmer

Lyle Palmer, PhD, is Professor, Biostatistics and Professor, Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto, Senior Principal Investigator, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Senior Scientist, Cancer Care Ontario, and Senior Investigator, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. Dr. Palmer was the Executive Director of the OHS from 2010 to 2013. He launched the recruitment phase of the Study, which has recruited more than 225,000 adults aged over 18, making it one of the largest epidemiological studies of its kind. This pioneering effort will enhance research capacities across different disciplines and lead to improvements in health, welfare and economic prosperity.


Dr. Vivek Goel

Vivek Goel, PhD, is the Chief Academic Strategist at Coursera, Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto; Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto; Adjunct senior scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and was the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Public Health Ontario from 2008 to 2014. Dr. Goel was the Executive Scientific Director and Principal Investigator of the Ontario Health Study from 2013 to 2014. During this time he oversaw the launch of Ontario Health Study Local Study Centres, a new research initiative by the Study that collects physical measures and a blood sample from participants in towns and cities across Ontario. This initiative will enhance both the geographic representation of the cohort and the research value of the Study overall.

Dr. Mark Purdue

Mark Purdue, PhD, is an Investigator within the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Purdue was the Executive Scientific Director and Principal Investigator of the Ontario Health Study from 2014 to 2015. Under the leadership of Dr. Purdue, the Study expanded its biospecimen collection efforts with a series of 20 Local Study Centre locations as well as onsite blood collection clinics in businesses. The Study also piloted new efforts to improve participation and engagement by streamlining participant workflows, employing new methods of contact, and leveraging new partnerships.