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Sasha Uhlmann

First health sciences winner heads to medical school

June 1, 2007

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By Marianne Meadahl

Well water in one region of the Lower Mainland could come under greater scrutiny following a study by one of the first graduates in SFU’s new health sciences faculty.

Sasha Uhlmann (left) carried out the study in 2006 for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). The research involved using a geographic information system to map 840 cases of potentially waterborne illnesses between 1996–2005 in Langley Township, and resulted in a report that found a higher risk of contracting waterborne illness among people using private wells.

The findings are expected to be published this fall. The BCCDC is also expected to follow up on Uhlmann’s work.

Uhlmann, who will receive the faculty’s first Dean’s Graduate Convocation medal for academic excellence on June 6, hopes his work will lead to a reduction in such illnesses and a better understanding of sporadic cases of airborne illness.

Uhlmann’s research has also focused on the high-profile turbidity problems that plagued the region last summer, as well as environmental effects on asthma in low-income children.

But while developing an increasing interest in public health issues—he is described by colleagues as a potential leader in the field—a simpler life as a general medical practitioner somewhere in rural B.C. also has a nice ring.

“I would like to find myself working at the nexus between public health, medicine and environmental health,” he says, noting that recent travels to Nepal, where he spent a month trekking with his father, have him thinking more globally about public health.

Uhlmann will have plenty of time to carve his niche now that he has been accepted into medical school at UBC.

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