Dr. Robin Urquhart named Scientific Director of Atlantic PATH

Posted February 26, 2021

Photo of Dr. Robin Urquhart

The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (CanPath), a national study investigating how genetics, environment, lifestyle, and behaviour contribute to the development of chronic disease and cancer, have named Dr. Robin Urquhart the new Scientific Director of the Atlantic regional cohort – the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health Study (Atlantic PATH).

Dr. Urquhart, an Associate Professor and Canadian Cancer Society Endowed Chair in Population Cancer Research in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine, and Senior Scientist with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and the Nova Scotia Lead for the Terry Fox Research Institute Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network, brings credible and practical experience to her new role with Atlantic PATH.

“I’m thrilled and excited to take on this role,” says Dr. Urquhart. “Because of my involvement with Atlantic-wide initiatives around cancer research, I see this as a great opportunity to bring people and resources together and build our leadership and capacity in the region.”

CanPath is Canada’s largest population health study and a national platform for health research. The organization is comprised of more than 330,000 volunteer participants across seven regional cohorts and 10 provinces.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Urquhart to CanPath’s leadership team. Her wealth of experience in health services research will be a great addition, and we look forward to working together as she leads the Atlantic PATH into its next phase as a powerful platform for health research that continues to be enriched by additional data, biosamples and data linkage,” says Dr. Philip Awadalla, National Scientific Director of CanPath.

Atlantic PATH’s work is particularly important for Atlantic Canada, which has the highest rates of cancer in the country.

Every year, more than 13,400 Atlantic Canadians are diagnosed with cancer and 6,300 die as a result. With over 34,000 participants, resulting in hundreds of thousands of data points, Dr. Urquhart is quick to point out that participants are the lifeblood of Atlantic PATH and are essential to the future of the program.

“People who participate and volunteer see this as hugely beneficial for our region,” says Dr. Urquhart.

Atlantic PATH has seen exceptional growth over the past 10 years, and Dr. Urquhart believes the breadth and depth of the data the organization makes available to the research community can be utilized even more by the research community. She is committed to harnessing the power of these data and helping researchers find out why some people develop certain chronic diseases and others don’t. 

“We need to make sure researchers across the region are aware of the data and biosamples held by Atlantic PATH and are utilizing this resource,” says Dr. Urquhart. “If we can link all of our lifestyle, genomics, and environmental data with the broader health datasets available in our region, including disease registries such as cancer and diabetes and large administrative health datasets, it would give Atlantic Canadian researchers a scientific platform that is unprecedented in Canada.”

For more information about Atlantic PATH, please visit their website: www.atlanticpath.ca