James Dunn

PhD, MA, B.Arts.Sc.

Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute


James R. Dunn, Ph.D. (Jim) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health, Aging and Society at McMaster University and a Scientist at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He is the Director of the McMaster Institute for Healthier Environments and holds adjunct appointments at the University of Toronto (Geography and Planning) and the University of Waterloo (Planning). He holds a Chair in Applied Public Health from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada and in 2011-12 was the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at Harvard University. He has published widely in geography, public health, urban planning and epidemiology journals over his career, and in 2012, he co-edited Rethinking Social Epidemiology: Towards a Science of Change with Patricia O’Campo (Springer). Since 2011, he has been the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, a specialty journal of the British Medical Journal.

Trained in the Urban Geography of Health, Dr. Dunn has extensive experience in strategic analysis of urban planning and municipal policy in North American cities, as it pertains to creating the conditions for routine physical activity, and population health more generally. He has also examined the impacts of metropolitan governance and finance on the relationship between income inequality and population health in North American cities.

Dr. Dunn is the recipient of numerous awards for teaching and research, including the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award, the MacLeod Award for Teaching Excellence, and the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professorship in Canadian Studies at Harvard University. From 2008-2014, Dr. Dunn was appointed as a CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health for his research on interventions in residential neighbourhoods and population health.

His current research program focuses on the social determinants of health and the influence of economic and social policies, especially urban policies, on inequalities in health and child development, concentrating on urban housing and neighbourhoods. Specifically, his work includes projects on the health and social impacts of public housing redevelopment, such as Toronto’s Regent Park, health and child development, the effects of housing improvement more generally on health and child development, and the development of place-based cross-sectoral (between public health and urban planning) policy implementation solutions for urban health problems.

Dr. Dunn has advised numerous policy-related organizations including municipalities in southern Ontario, the Provincial Health Officer for Ontario, the National Housing Research Committee of Canada and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. In addition, Dr. Dunn is Co-Executive Lead and Co-Founder of the Hamilton Anchor Institutions Leadership Council, which provides evidence-informed decision-making and strategic alignment leadership for the CEO-level leaders of Hamilton’s anchor institutions (hospitals, municipal government, police, school boards, universities and colleges, etc.) in the area of urban development and population health and well-being.

Affiliations & Other Activities

  • Research Scientist, Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Professor and Chair, Department of Health, Aging & Society, McMaster University
  • Associate Member, School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University
  • Associate Professor, Geography and Planning, University of Toronto
  • Associate Professor, Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto