Dr. Noralou P. Roos, O.C., Ph.D.
Noralou Roos was the founding co-Director of the world-class and innovative Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP), which was established in 1991 and continues to provide research evidence about population health and service use in Manitoba to inform policy. Roos was a pioneer in working with both policymakers and the media to translate research knowledge into action. She organized the pan-Canadian Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network to ensure objective, timely evidence was produced about pharmaceuticals. She is currently a driving force on a novel approach to tackling poverty in Manitoba.
After arriving at the University of Manitoba in 1973, Roos and her husband, Les, worked with the Manitoba Health Services Commission to build what would later become the Manitoba population research data repository – a de-identified collection of administrative datasets for research. It was developed to describe and explain patterns of service use, and profiles of health for all Manitoba residents. The repository has become a model for research data centres across Canada and the world.
Roos’s work on inequalities in children’s health and education outcomes was part of the impetus for the Manitoba Education Department to develop the community-schools pilot project, which recognized the need to address multiple challenges experienced by families living in low-income areas, in order to improve student outcomes. This program led to the Community Schools Act funding over three dozen schools to serve as community hubs where cross-sector services and resources can be mobilized to support families and boost student achievement.
Roos’ contributions to health services and population health research have been recognized by numerous awards including YWCA Manitoba Woman of the Year award in 1988, the Order of Canada in 2005, membership in the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009, winner of the inaugural Population and Public Health Research Milestone Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Public Health Association in 2011. In 2016, she was promoted to Officer in the Order of Canada.
After stepping down as director of MCHP, Roos obtained funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Manitoba Health Research Council to work with the media to ensure evidence on high-profile health policy issues was accurately communicated. As founding director of EvidenceNetwork.ca in 2009, she networked with more than 80 high-profile academics across the country to provide timely responses to reporters’ questions.
Roos also mobilized a large group of academics to work with Health Canada and provincial governments across Canada, establishing the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network (DSEN). This was funded with a $31-million commitment from the health minister in 2009, and $10 million per year of ongoing funding.
Currently, Roos is co-director of the Winnipeg Foundation-supported Get Your Benefits project that sees health care providers and community groups working to ensure poverty is diagnosed and treated by helping people access the benefits for which they are eligible.