Our History

1946: The Department of Clinical Preventive Medicine was established. The aim of the department was to integrate preventive procedures into clinical practice with emphasis on social factors in disease. The initial aim of the department was markedly influenced by the Goodenough report on medical education from Great Britain.
1950: The Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Clinical Preventive Medicine were combined. The Department of Psychiatry and Preventive Medicine was established under the headship of Professor G.E. Hobbs (1907 - 1987), a psychiatrist who had recently completed his Master's degree in public health. One purpose of the amalgamtion was to ensure that preventive medicine had direct access to a clinical facility. During the following 17 years, research activity was directed mainly, although not exclusively, toward the epidemiology of mental health.
1967: Two separate departments were established: the Department of Community Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry. The Department of Community Medicine under the leadership of Carol Buck, PhD (1925 - 2004), had two divisions: (1) Family Practice and (2) Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. The purpose was to introduce Family Medicine into the Faculty of Medicine by joining it to an established department with which it shared an interest in the community aspects of health problems.
1972: The Department of Community Medicine spawned two new departments: (1) The Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine was established and (2) Family Medicine became a separate department. Liaison between the two Departments was maintained by cross-appointments on committees that dealt with matters of common interest.
1975: The The Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine moved into the Kresge Building. Learn about our building's history and Mr. Kresge.
1977: Carol Buck stepped down, following her second term as Chair, and was replaced by James M Wanklin, PhD.
1979: The Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine was changed to the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics with the recruitment of the department's first biostatistician, Allan Donner, PhD. Subsequently, Allan Donner became an international name in biostatistics and other biostatisticians were recruited.
1987: Allan Donner became Chair of the Department. During his tenure, the focus of the department became increasingly quantitative and, in addition to the historical strength in Community Medicine and Population Health, a new strength in biostatistics was evident.
2003: M. Karen Campbell, PhD was appointed Chair, replacing Dr. Donner when he stepped down after three terms. Under her leadership, a new focus in Health Services Research (HSR) and Health Economics evolved. Karen Campbell's legacy also included the development of the Honors Specialization Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the first undergraduate program of its kind in Canda.
2015 Karen Campbell is appointed Special Advisor to the Provost and Vice-Provost Elect, Academic Planning, Policy and Faculty (July 01, 2016). Guangyong Zou, PhD assumed the role of Acting Chair on September 01, 2015
2016 Dr. Saverio Stranges is appointed Chair. Dr. Stranges’s research focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of chronic disease and aging, specifically regarding the role of lifestyles, nutritional and psychosocial factors, such as dietary patterns, sleep behaviors and social determinants of health. He is also interested in global health, especially in the area of cardio-metabolic disease in low-resource settings, as well as in interdisciplinary research. Prior to his appointment at Western University in Canada, Dr. Stranges worked as Scientific Director of the Department of Population Health at the Luxembourg Institute of Health.
2021: The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics moved from the Kresge Building into a bright new space on the third floor of the Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine (PHFM).
2021 Dr. Saverio Stranges began his second term as Chair.