Jeff Johnson is taking on a new role as scientific director of the Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition Strategic Clinical Network (SCN) within Alberta Health Services. As such, he becomes the most senior provincial research leader and a key member of the SCN core strategy and leadership group. He will champion a broad provincial health research agenda to address the health needs of people with chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes.
“The intent of the strategic clinical network is to bring forward research evidence to help inform ways to improve health-care delivery and the health of the population,” explains Johnson.
His role will involve connecting with clinicians and front-line workers, as well as external stakeholders and communities. “As scientific director, my job is to engage the research community in a way that enhances our ability to bring research evidence to the table to support policy decisions.
In addition, he will facilitate knowledge translation. “I hope to support research groups and networks in Alberta that are working in the area of obesity and nutrition. Our focus will be to generate evidence and translate it so that it can be used to improve health and the health-care system.”
It is appealing to Johnson that his new role allows him to stay within the university environment. This, he says, fosters connections between the School of Public Health and the public health community, including Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health. “It is very important for our university and the School to be connected and engaged,” notes Johnson. “We try to encourage our faculty members to be engaged on the ground.”
As professor in the School of Public Health, and as chair of the Alliance for Canadian Health Outcomes Research in Diabetes (ACHORD), his research has been influential in developing clinical practice guidelines and health policies related to diabetes care. “In ACHORD, we have been looking at ways to improve quality and efficiency of care for people with diabetes,” he explains.
In an announcement from Alberta Health Services, Kathryn Todd, senior vice-president for research, said that scientific directors, including Johnson, will be critical contributors to the mission and success of the SCNs. “We want all Albertans to live the longest and healthiest lives possible. In one way or another, all SCNs have that as their touchstone.”
“We hope to offer better and more efficient delivery of health care for people with chronic disease,” explains Johnson. “Also, from a health promotion perspective, we hope to bring more support by using methods that we know work.”
Johnson is a senior health scholar with Alberta Innovates–Health Solutions. He also holds the title of Centennial Professor, among the most prestigious of awards at the University of Alberta bestowed on individuals who have achieved outstanding distinction.