On July 1, 2015, the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) will join the Dalla Lana School of Public Health as its new home faculty. This transition from the Faculty of Medicine into the School reflects the evolution of bioethics as a field that is expanding its scope to address both upstream social determinants of health — such as income and gender — and downstream implications on patient care, health policies and population health.
“We are building the future together with the JCB and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation by creating bridges between public health and health care through scholarship and partnership within a shared vision of improving and promoting health,” said Howard Hu, Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
“The JCB has longstanding academic collaborations with public health at U of T and our partnership is maturing at a crucial moment in time when health systems are facing are challenges that are both practical and ethical,” Hu continued, who is also a Professor of Global Health, Epidemiology and Environmental Health.
The JCB — which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in December 2015 — is one of the world’s leading bioethics centres, recognized for its contributions in healthcare, research, global and public health ethics. It is a network of more than 180 interdisciplinary scholars and professionals across the University of Toronto and its affiliated healthcare institutions as well as continuing linkages to graduates nationally and internationally.
The JCB’s affiliated faculty, students, ethics practitioners and scholars, and alumni are making significant contributions toward tackling complex health system challenges, such as Ebola, on which the JCB operated both provincially (advising the Ministry of Health on preparedness planning) and internationally (participating in the World Health Organization response). JCB members have also made significant contributions in ethics related to end of life care, priority setting, new technologies and increasingly in the area of primary and community care ethics.
“Health systems face complex challenges locally and globally. These challenges demand new ways of thinking and new approaches to tackling them. We have a moral imperative to work through these challenges together towards the greater goal of improving health,” said Jennifer Gibson, JCB Director and Director of WHO’s Collaborating Centre for Bioethics.
“At the JCB, we are not afraid of the ethical complexity of these challenges, and we will leverage the School’s combined strengths to tackle big challenges in health, like health system integration, big data, chronic disease, epidemics, and the globalization of health,” continued Gibson, who is also an Associate Professor in the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, which joined the Dalla Lana School of Public Health in July 2014.
Gibson and Hu agree that by joining forces, the JCB and the DLSPH have the right mix of scholars and practitioners wearing ethics, clinical and population health hats.
“The School is really starting to coalesce around these strengths. Now is the time to have a lasting, positive impact on health,” said Professor Gibson.
Students, faculty, staff and partners can refer to the Q&A below to address transition questions.
Why make the move from Medicine to Public Health?
The JCB has strong collaborative relationships with the School, including the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation (which transitioned into the School on July 1, 2014) based on a shared commitment to improving health, health systems, and health care through interdisciplinary and inter-professional research, education, and practice.
The DLSPH offers a natural academic home for the breadth of the JCB’s scholarship and practice, which spans clinical ethics, organizational ethics, health system and policy ethics, research ethics, public health ethics, and global health ethics. In addition, the JCB’s transition from the Faculty of Medicine into the DLSPH reflects the evolution of bioethics as a field that is expanding its scope to address both upstream health system factors — including the social determinants of health — and downstream implications on patient care and population health.
Together, DLSPH and JCB bring a wide range of health and ethics expertise to promote health at both population and individual health levels by creating a bridge across public health and healthcare. The Faculty of Medicine and its clinical departments will remain a key strategic partner and academic collaborator in advancing bioethics at the University and through U of T- affiliated health institutions.
Will there be any governing structure changes in JCB?
JCB will remain an Extra-Departmental Unit Type C (EDU-C) with its own Director reporting to the Dean of the DLSPH. The JCB will retain its current executive committee structure with membership from its academic and health sector partners. The academic programs with which the JCB is most closely associated will continue to be offered with DLSPH as the lead faculty for all academic programming. These include:
- Master of Health Science (MHSc) in Bioethics Program
- Collaborative Program in Bioethics (CPB)
- Undergraduate Course Development Fund (UCDF) courses
- JCB Fellowship in Clinical and Organizational Bioethics
What impact will the transition have on students?
The transition will be virtually seamless for students enrolled in the MHSc Program in Bioethics, the Collaborative Program, and UCDF courses. For students enrolled in the MHSc in Bioethics, their transcripts will change in that the graduate departmental affiliation noted will change from Institute of Medical Science (IMS) to Public Health Sciences. The MHSc students actively enrolled at the time the transfer occurs will have the option of specifying IMS or Public Health Sciences as their graduate home unit on their transcripts. For students in the Collaborative Doctoral Program in Bioethics or the UCDF courses, there will be no impact and nothing will change on their transcripts.
What does this transition mean for affiliated faculty?
As an EDU-C, the JCB does not hold faculty appointments. The transfer will have no impact on faculty members associated with the Collaborative Program in Bioethics or UCDF courses. The MHSc in Bioethics Program was transferred into the DLSPH effective May 1, 2015. All course (co-) directors who do not already have a DLSPH academic and graduate appointment are being engaged in a process to obtain such an appointment.
What will happen to JCB’s partnerships across U of T and its affiliated health institutions?
The JCB will maintain relationships with its 10 affiliated academic units at the University of Toronto and its partnerships with affiliated healthcare institutions. The transition into the DLSPH also provides an opportunity to forge even stronger links with healthcare institutions in Toronto Academic Health Science Network and other health organizations to support real-world impact on health, health systems and healthcare locally and globally.