Duncan Saunders

Acting Director, Professional Programs and Accreditation Visiting Professor

Health Sciences

Duncan Saunders

Acting Director, Professional Programs and Accreditation, Visiting Professor

Health Sciences


  • MBBCh, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Diploma in Tropical Public Health, University of London
  • Ph.D. University of the Witwatersrand
  • Epidemic Intelligence Officer, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia, 1985—1987


After completing his medical degree and internships in medicine and surgery in 1976, Dr. Saunders worked as a medical officer in a rural hospital in South Africa and later as an epidemiologist on a primary health care project in Soweto. His PhD was based on research around hypertension management in Soweto primary care clinics. Between these positions he obtained a DTPH from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. From 1985-1989 he worked as an epidemiologist in California: as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer (EIS) officer with the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta assigned to the California Department of Health Services and for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. In 1989 he joined the University of Alberta where he worked initially in the Faculty of Medicine and then (from 2006) in the newly established School of Public Health including as Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, until his retirement in 2016.

As a generalist epidemiologist Dr. Saunders’ research has spanned many topics, used a range of data sources, and employed a variety of analytic methods. At the University of Alberta, he taught courses in epidemiology, global health and evidence-based medicine and was the recipient of University, faculty and Department teaching awards. He was a supervisor/ supervisory committee member for 22 PhD and 31 MSc students and the advisor for 34 MPH students. He also taught short courses in research methods and evidence-based medicine in Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Africa, Uganda and Kenya.

Dr. Saunders joined FHS in May 2019.

Research interests

Over the last 15 years Dr. Saunders’ main focus has been Global Health. He was involved in a number of research projects in Western Uganda with Canadian and Ugandan colleagues focusing on the treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDs in rural areas. He taught short courses in research methods and evidence-based medicine in Uganda and Kenya. He helped write AMREF Health Africa’s research strategic plan and undertook an Academics Without Borders assignment to review MPH and MSc programs, initiating a MPH curriculum redesign at the School of Public Health, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Hoehoe, Ghana. He served on the Board of the Canadian Society for International Health from 2010-2016 including as Board Co-Chair.