New epidemiology and health outcomes graduate training initiative takes flight 

On November 4, 2021 the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC) launched a new graduate training initiative—the Future Leaders In EpidemioloGy and Health OuTcomes, or FLIGHT, program. The program is unique as the first of its kind among health sciences programs at UBC and is generously supported by Pfizer Canada and Merck Canada. 

Established under the leadership of Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) researchers Drs. Larry Lynd, Mary De Vera, and Mohsen Sadatsafavi, the FLIGHT program addresses the urgent and increasing need to train future professionals in evidence-based decision-making. The decision-making process behind the allocation of health care funding is tremendously complex. Professionals in this field require specialized understanding of the values of medicines, the health care landscape in Canada, advanced research methods, and issues of affordability and patient outcomes. FLIGHT graduates will be well equipped with this specialized knowledge in order to conduct research and deliver actionable insights as future leaders in the life sciences and health care sectors. 

An objective of the FLIGHT program is to support independent, research-based dialogue and knowledge across all sectors of health care. Potential opportunities such as internships and collaborative research projects will also be explored. The Faculty wishes to thank inaugural sponsors, Merck Canada and Pfizer Canada, for their generous support of this initiative. 

Heidi Waser, vice president of patient access at Merck Canada notes that “With today’s rapid pace of medical and scientific advancements, evidence-based decision-making in health care is critical now more than ever to ensure access to innovative therapies, improve patient lives and deliver optimal clinical outcome. We are very pleased to sponsor this program, which will, undoubtedly, yield the next generation of well-rounded and balanced researchers, leaders and decision-makers in the Canadian healthcare ecosystem.” 

Cole Pinnow, president at Pfizer Canada says "Pfizer Canada is pleased to sponsor the FLIGHT graduate training program within the CORE research group at the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. We look forward to joining with the wider life sciences community in supporting FLIGHT graduate students. As a company that strives to profoundly impact the health of Canadians through the discovery, development and delivery of medicines and vaccines, our support of FLIGHT students means supporting future leaders and scientists whose work will improve the lives of people in Canada and beyond.”