diabetes, chronic disease, healthy cities, social & environmental determinants

Vancouver joins Houston and Mexico to form the Healthy Cities Research Hub: Exploring Drivers of Diabetes and Other Chronic Diseases

July 22, 2017
Image by Neil Roger, Creative Commons 2.0 license
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Vancouver, BC – Simon Fraser University (SFU) is pleased to join the virtual research hub as Canada’s academic lead in the North American collaboration. Local leaders, professor of Health Sciences, Dr. Scott Lear, and professor of Geography, Dr. Nadine Shuurman from SFU’s Community Health Solutions will be bringing their respective expertise to the table. Leading the broader effort is Dr. Stephen Linder, researcher and director of the Institute for Health Policy at the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston (UTHealth). The collaboration was made possible through a three-year, $2.4 million USD grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The grant is awarded at a time when the Type 2 diabetes epidemic is threatening to overwhelm health systems in North America and around the world. As urban populations increase, aspects of city lifestyles such as long commutes, sedentary work environments and time pressure are increasing people’s vulnerability to chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 415 million people across the world have diabetes, two-thirds of whom are living in urban areas. Canada is no exception with approximately 3.5 million people living with diabetes, a number expected to rise to 5 million by 2025.

The effort represents a partnership with Cities Changing Diabetes (CCD), a global partnership programme initiated by Novo Nordisk to bring urgent action against urban diabetes. Just last November Vancouver was the seventh city to join the CCD with SFU as the academic lead along with the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Diabetes Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada as partners.

The Healthy Cities Research Hub will expand and augment the work already taking place in the three North American CCD cities—Vancouver, Houston and Mexico City. The hub will explore the social and environmental conditions that impact the onset, care and outcomes of diabetes and other chronic diseases. The main goal is to exchange findings between the three cities and work together to translate knowledge into a sharable ‘tool kit’ for use in any of the countless cities fighting the rise of non-communicable chronic diseases.

“This is an opportunity to extend the community-based work of the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative through new tools for evaluation and dissemination so that the results proven here can help other cities,” said lead researcher, Dr. Stephen Linder. Vancouver is in a unique position to contribute to the diabetes research hub. Typically thought of as an active and health-forward city, the diversity of Greater Vancouver’s population poses an array of challenges with respect to diabetes risk and management. Exploring the locally relevant social and environmental determinants of diabetes with a focus on vulnerability and resiliency among Vancouver’s complex networks of residents will be a cornerstone of the local research platform.

Simon Fraser University researchers are proud to play a part in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s goal of inspiring a culture of health where everyone has the right the live healthy lives, no matter who they are, or where they live.


For more information:

Veronica de Jong, BA&Sc., MSc.
Community Health Solutions, Simon Fraser University
604-682-2344 ext. 63669