UAlberta researcher receives Trudeau Fellowship to help bust health myths

Tim Caulfield talks about the honour of being named a 2013 Trudeau Fellow and the support he has had from the University of Alberta.

(Edmonton) A University of Alberta researcher has been named as one of 2013’s Trudeau Fellows.

Tim Caulfield, a health law expert whose work explores ethical, legal and health policy issues related to topics including stem-cell research, genetics and obesity policy, was named by the Trudeau Foundation at a ceremony today in Montreal. He is the second University of Alberta professor to have received the prestigious fellowship.

Caulfield says that, beyond named to the fellowship and having the ability to focus on important projects that will add to the body of his very public work, one of the things he is most grateful for is the opportunity to meet and connect with current and former Trudeau scholars and fellows.

“It’s fantastic to be affiliated with an organization that supports scholarship and supports people,” he said. “I truly feel unbelievably lucky.”

Criteria for the fellowship list on the Trudeau Foundation website note that successful fellows demonstrate excellence in the areas of leadership, productivity, reputation and public engagement—the latter of which Caulfield readily identifies as important.

“I thoroughly enjoy engaging the general public on controversial health and science issues,” he said.

Part of the requirements of the three-year fellowship is to develop a distinct project. Caulfield says he has several projects in mind for which he will be willing to dedicate some of the $225,000 awarded to fellows to assist in research. But for the main project, he hopes to pull together an interdisciplinary team from among the scholars and fellows to tackle health issues—such as nutrition, stem-cell debate and vaccinations—using contemporary methods and communicating their efforts using a variety of mediums, including another potential collaboration with his brother Sean, a printmaking professor at the U of A.

“What are some of the health myths out there that we can use evidence to dispel in order to improve the related health and general well-being of Canadians and people all over the world?” said Caulfield. “What are the low-tech things that evidence says we can be doing better, how can we be doing it better, and what health myths out there can we dispel—and then think of creative ways of spreading the word.”

The Trudeau Foundation, created in 2001, supports outstanding research in the humanities and social sciences, aligned with four major themes related to the life and work of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau: human rights, responsible citizenship, Canada and its place in the world, and people in their natural environment. Through the awarding of scholarships and fellowships, the foundation supports creative and critical thinkers who make meaningful contributions to critical social issues through scholarships, fellowships, mentorships and public interaction events.