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Diane Finegood - Simon Fraser University. Vancouver, BC, CA

Diane Finegood

Professor | Simon Fraser University

Vancouver, BC, CANADA

Expert in systems thinking & cross sector partnerships as approaches to solving complex problems including obesity and chronic disease






Public Salon 26 Diane Finegood A new evidence base for tackling complex problems KT 2.0: Embracing complexity




Dr. Diane T. Finegood is an experienced research leader and strategic visionary with an exceptional track record of heading provincial and national leading-edge health research organizations. She served as President & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (2012-2016) and inaugural scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (2000-2008). As a bridge-builder and systems thinker, she has successfully facilitated the needs of disparate stakeholders to carve out common ground for effective collaboration and impact. Diane is also an internationally recognized researcher whose work and expertise range from cell biology, physiology, and mathematical modeling to population and public health, health policy and knowledge translation.

Industry Expertise (4)


Health and Wellness


Government Relations

Areas of Expertise (8)

Health Research

Research Ecosystem

Public Private Partnerships

Complex Systems

Knowledge Translation

Implementation Science

Chronic Disease Prevention


Accomplishments (6)

E.W. Crampton Award (professional)

Presented by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, in conjunction with McGill Nutrition and Food Science Centre, in recognition of distinguished service in fields dealing with nutrition and food (2011).

Inaugural Distinguished Lecturer Award (professional)

Presented by the Canadian Obesity Network, for outstanding contributions to the obesity research community in Canada (2009).

Frederick G. Banting Award (professional)

Presented by the Canadian Diabetes Association, for significant contributions through leadership in the diabetes community in Canada (2008).

Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (professional)

For recognition of national and international contributions to the promotion of health science. Fellows will have demonstrated leadership, creativity, distinctive competencies and a commitment to advance academic health science (2007).

Top 100 Women: Trailblazers and Trendsetters (professional)

Presented by the Women's Executive Network (2006).

YWCA Women of Distinction (professional)

Presented by the Vancouver YWCA in recognition of leadership in Science, Research and Medicine (2002).

Education (3)

University of Southern California: PhD, Physiology and Biophysics 1984

Northwestern University: MSc, Biomedical Engineering 1980

University of Michigan: BSChE, Chemical Engineering 1978

Media Appearances (4)

Health System Transformation

Reboot Communications (May 2016)  online

Interview in advance of the 16th Annual Healthcare Summit.

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Expert's Corner, Healthcare Q & A

Reboot Communications (May 2015)  online

Interview in advance of the 15th Annual Healthcare Summit.

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Challenges of obesity for individuals and society

Canadian Obesity Network (May 2009)  online

Interview on the personal and professional challenges of dealing with obesity.

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Obesity Seeking Solutions

BTV/Global National TV Production (November 2003)  tv

Interview incorporated into a 30 minute documentary on obesity.

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Event Appearances (6)

A Systems Approach to Implementation of Evidence

Global Implementation Conference  Toronto, Ontario (June 2017)

Complex is not the same as complicated

Global Civic Policy Society's Public Salon  Vancouver, BC (October 2016)

Innovation - Accelerating uptake

International Initiative for Mental health Leadership  Vancouver, BC (September 2015)

Thoughts on the Role of Science in Public Policy

Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) Luncheon - Science, Technology and Public Policy  Vancouver, BC (March 2015)

Shifting the paradigm in chronic disease prevention from attribution to adaptation: What data do we need?

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre  Sydney, Australia (March 2015)

The food industry: Friend or foe?

Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (APPC) Investigators' Forum  Sydney, Australia (March 2015)

Research Grants (3)

Scale-up and Spread of MEND Programs in Canada

Canadian Institutes of Health Research $200,000 (2011 to present)

MEND (Mind Exercise Nutrition Do-It!) is a scaleable childhood obesity treatment program imported from the UK to Canada. This project is studying the scale-up and spread of MEND into three provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia).

The CAPTURE Project (CAnadian Platform To increase Usage of Real world Evidence)

Canadian Partnership Against Cancer $3,000,000 (2009-2012)

Unique 3 year knowledge translation project focused on the vision of having effective primary prevention in Canada because we learn from what we do. Engaged more than 500 chronic disease prevention informants, including public health practitioners, evaluators, public health decision makers, and public health and intervention researchers in consultations using multiple methods including concept mapping, expert panels, stakeholder workshops, key informant interviews, focus groups, web surveys and usability testing. Built a web-based platform to support organizations and individuals in program and evaluation planning, reporting on progress, sharing and reflecting on the results of interventions, and connecting with others who are working with similar populations or interventions. Identified multiple needs and opportunities in building systems to support real-world learning for improvement.

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Beta-Cell Apoptosis and Autoimmunity Network

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation $1.2 million (2004-2008)

This program project grant followed from a previous grant from JDRF and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (for $2.7 million) to explore triggers and mechanisms of autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes.

Partnerships (1)

Building Trust to Address the Epidemic of Obesity and Chronic Disease

McDonald’s Canada, Corus Entertainment, Pepsico, Kraft, US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Health Check Program, Health Canada, CIHR and numerous other organizations 

Led this national initiative with funding from government, NGOs and the private sector to convene three invitation-only events on building trust in 2008, 2009 and 2011, which have initiated numerous cross-sector collaborations.

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Articles (5)

Cross-Sector Partnerships and Public Health: Challenges and Opportunities for Addressing Obesity and Noncommunicable Diseases Through Engagement with the Private Sector.

Annual Reviews of Public Health, 36: 255-271, 2015.

Invited review article reflects our work in the area of public-private partnerships and their application to public health issues like obesity and chronic disease prevention. This is a contentious issue in the policy domain and we address both the challenges and the opportunities.

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Knowledge to action for solving complex problems: insights from a review of nine international cases.

Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can 35(3): 47-53, 2015.

This examination of nine international organizational experiences with bringing knowledge to action uses a systems lens to understand best practices.

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Systems Science and Obesity Policy: A Novel Framework for Analyzing and Rethinking Population-Level Planning.

American Journal of Public Health 104(7): 1270-8, 2014.

This paper arises out of our research program applying systems thinking to the complexity of obesity and behavior change.

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The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments.

Lancet 378: 804-14, 2011.

This collaborative effort to bring focus to the obesity pandemic is part of a series of papers in The Lancet. This paper has been cited more than 700 times and has an Altimetric score in the top 5%.

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Grand Challenges in Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases: The top 20 policy and research priorities for conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Nature 450: 494-496, 2007.

This collaboration brings attention to the global challenges of chronic disease prevention. Almetric score in the top 5%

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