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‘Rigorous, timely evidence’

Canada Research Chair in Pharmacy to continue informing policy development

By Kim Devlin

Part of an ongoing series of Gazette stories celebrating researchers who received support as part of a major investment by the federal government in arts and science on March 13.

Memorial University’s Canada Research Chair in health-policy evaluation and health-care sustainability’s work has several fronts.

Dr. Hai Nguyen, associate professor in the School of Pharmacy, was recently renewed as a tier 2 chair.

The appointments are among Canada’s highest honours in research. Tier 2 chairs are valued at $100,000 per year for five years, with the possibility of one five-year renewal.

With his renewed appointment, he says he will focus on three distinct areas of applied health economic analyses: cannabis legalization; e-cigarette regulation; and safer opioid supply and decriminalization.

“Better evidence drives superior policy, fostering healthier choices, improving health outcomes and reducing health-care costs.” — Dr. Hai Nguyen

As the first Canada Research Chair in the School of Pharmacy at Memorial, Dr. Nguyen says his renewal is an opportunity for him and his research team to dive deeper into the first term’s research initiatives and to continue positively affecting national and international health policies.

This research is expected to provide useful lessons for other countries hoping to adopt similar policies, further strengthening Canada’s global leadership role in policy initiatives and evaluation efforts.

Dr. Nguyen’s work will also continue to attract high-calibre trainees and students, contributing to the development of future researchers.

First-term accomplishments

During Dr. Nguyen’s first term, he focused on evaluating different vaping and cannabis policies adopted by provincial and federal governments in Canada.

He published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, several of which appeared in leading journals, including JAMA Pediatrics, Tobacco Control, Addiction, Journal of Law and Economics and JAMA Network Open.

His work garnered substantial attention from national and local media outlets and informed government agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

“My research aims to generate rigorous, timely evidence to inform policy-making, especially in the domain of substance use,” said Dr. Nguyen. “Better evidence drives superior policy, fostering healthier choices, improving health outcomes and reducing health-care costs.”

Dr. Hai Nguyen, a yellow man in his early 40s, is pictured in a circular photo. To the left are curved lines with various colours and patterns.
Dr. Hai Nguyen has been renewed as a tier 2 Canada Research Chair.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

His papers have been recognized for several prestigious awards, including the 2018 Fukuchi Prize for Best Original Paper published in Respirology and the 2020 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Article of the Year Award, a coveted prize for published research that has significantly contributed to the advancement of health services and policy research in Canada.

In April 2022 Dr. Nguyen received the esteemed Fulbright Research Chair award, which enabled him to expand his Canada Research Chair research on cannabis legalization at Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

He has engaged in several knowledge-translation activities; in 2021 he was selected as a delegate for the Science Meets Parliament Program, which allowed him to discuss his research with members of Parliament in Ottawa.

He was also invited to meet Dr. Carolyn Bennett, former federal minister, Mental Health and Addictions, with whom he discussed his alcohol policy research.

Dr. Nguyen’s research is also supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Grant, among other awarded funding.

He is on the editorial board of Respirology, the official journal of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology.

CRC program

The Canada Research Chairs Program stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development.

The program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is administered by the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat.

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