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New health informatics chair at Algoma University

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Algoma University, in conjunction with ESRI Canada, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Nicola Shaw (pictured) as Health Informatics Research Chair and Scientific Director for the Health Informatics Institute. In her new role, Dr. Shaw will build on the health informatics (HI) research and potential that exists in Ontario’s Algoma region.

Dr. Nicola (Nikki) Shaw comes to the Health Informatics Institute from the University of Alberta, where she was named the first Research Chair of Health Informatics in Western Canada.

Her expertise in applied health informatics positions her well to capitalize on the innovative HI solutions existing in the region. She will be looking to facilitate significant local, national and international research and collaboration in health informatics.

She will also undertake fundamental and applied research that enables health system innovation, as well as improved and more efficient patient-centered care.

Dr. Shaw received her Post-Graduate Certification in Health Research Methods at the University of Central Lancashire, UK 2001; PhD Health Informatics (University of Central Lancashire in collaboration with Oxford University Postgraduate Medical Education & Training, UK) 1997; Professional Certificate from the Market Research Society (UK) 1995; BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems with Management from the University of Central Lancashire, UK in 1994; and her HND in Business Information Technology from the University of Central Lancashire, UK in 1992.

She is a Fellow of the British Computing Society (FBCS), a Chartered Information Technology Professional (CITP) and a Registrant Level 3 (Highest) of the UK Council for Health Informatics Professionals (UKCHIP).

Dr. Shaw is an Expert Advisor to Canada Health Infoway and has just completed her term on the Advisory Board for the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She has undertaken several pan-Canadian research studies in collaboration with Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute related to the use of Electronic Medical/Health Records in Canada.

She is an invited member of the COACH Privacy & Security Committee, which prepares the Canadian Guidelines for the Protection of Health Information bi-annually. She currently holds over $11 million in research funding.

Dr. Shaw was recruited to Canada in 2003 by the University of British Columbia, where she was a Research Scientist with the Centre for Healthcare Innovation & Improvement at the Child and Family Research Institute in Vancouver. In April 2006, Dr. Nicola Shaw was appointed as the first endowed Research Chair of Health Informatics in Western Canada.

As part of the Integrated Centre for Care Advancement through Research (iCARE), Dr. Shaw’s appointment was created in partnership between the former Capital Health and the University of Alberta.

Dr. Shaw’s published work includes two books on technology in primary care; the 2004, Canadian edition is entitled, “Computerization and Going Paperless in Canadian Primary Care,” and has become a recommended text for many physician offices undergoing transition to electronic medical records.

With an applied social research focus, Dr. Shaw’s research interests concentrate on developing an understanding around the implementation, use, and sharing of medical records.

“Health informatics is an important emerging field that has provided valuable benefits to our community through advancements in healthcare,” said Dr. Richard Myers, President, Algoma University. “Dr. Shaw’s expertise will help us expand our research capacity and further develop and implement best practices in this area, as well as position Algoma University as a knowledge leader in healthcare.”

The research chair is funded for five years through support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), ESRI Canada and Algoma University.

The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) worked in partnership with Algoma University on the development of this project. SSMIC’s strong relationship with ESRI Canada helped facilitate their contribution to the project, and SSMIC also collaborated with the National Institutes of Health Informatics (NIHI) to support and develop this initiative.

Health informatics is an important sector for development in SSMIC’s strategic plan. As a result, SSMIC recognizes the need to bring in academic researchers, such as the health informatics research chair, to help further the work of local researchers in health informatics.

“Sault Ste. Marie has achieved significant success in applying health informatics to address community health goals, including improving access to services and preventing the spread of disease,” said Alex Miller, president, ESRI Canada. “We are proud to support Dr. Shaw in building on the city’s success in leveraging geospatial technologies to advance health research and improve the health of all Canadians.”

“It’s important to continue developing the intellectual property and technology sector in Sault Ste. Marie, which is why our government provided $684,200 to support innovative health care technology research at Algoma University,” said David Orazietti, MPP. “Investing in research that will improve patient care is essential to enhancing our health care system and it assists our city in attracting and retaining talented individuals such as Dr. Shaw, who will help position the university as a leader in health informatics.”

Dr. Shaw will build a health informatics research program based on the community’s strengths, pursue an active research program and teach one to two courses per year during her tenure as research chair. The research program will focus on the area of Primary Care Informatics and will engage local expertise in the applications of geospatial technologies, health system management and serious games for health, e.g., for training, health promotion and rehabilitation.

Academically, the health informatics research chair is important in helping Algoma University pursue the development of educational programs and research projects that will contribute to the health informatics cluster.

About Algoma University
Algoma University offers a wide variety of liberal arts and sciences degree options including programs in Psychology, Computer Science, Business Administration, Fine Arts, Community Economic & Social Development, and Biology; Algoma U is committed to offering a personal education experience unlike any university in Ontario. As the Canadian home of the internationally recognized MSc CGT from the University of Abertay Dundee, Algoma University is at the forefront of computer games technology education. Algoma University also offers accelerated second degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science on its Brampton campus. As a partner with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Algoma U is committed to respecting Anishinaabe knowledge and culture.

About ESRI Canada
Founded in 1984, ESRI Canada provides enterprise geographic information systems (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography. The company distributes the world’s leading GIS software from ESRI, Telvent, Azteca Systems and other technology partners. Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada and has been named as one of the top 250 Canadian IT companies and top 25 IT professional services providers in Canada by the Branham Group. Information about ESRI Canada can be found at

About the Health Informatics Institute
The Health Informatics Institute (HII) is a not-for-profit research institute located at Algoma University. The institute is focused on Applied Health Informatics research that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the health system. Areas of interest include primary and community care, geographic information systems (GIS) for health and games for health. We aim to develop, implement and commercialize research based innovative technology solutions and best practices and strive to maintain a strong network comprised of external academic, government and industrial partners. For more information, go to

About the National Institutes of Health Informatics
NIHI is a Canada-wide, virtual institute of institutes bringing together academic experts in Health Informatics. NIHI serves as a catalyzer, co-ordinator and facilitator that assists in defining, fostering and bonding together local Health Informatics (HI) initiatives in academia and industry dedicated to Health Informatics research and education. For more information, go to

About Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre was founded in 1999 as a catalyst for economic development activities in the IT and knowledge based sectors in the Algoma District. It works closely with community partners to enhance and improve IT sector opportunities. The Innovation Centre is focused on three core areas: the operation of a business incubator to encourage the establishment and growth of technology start-ups; the provision of support services to the SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) IT community and the development of strategic markets such as the highly successful GIS project. The Innovation Centre has developed and implemented an award-winning GIS product, which serves a number of municipal customers and is responsible for the growth of private sector GIS firms in the Algoma District.

Posted September 9, 2010