Colin Soskolne was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He spent the first 31 years of his life there before moving, in 1978, to North America to study for his PhD. Presently, he is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta where he has been based since 1985. He will be retiring on June 30, 2013, to pursue other career interests. Colin has authored and/or co-authored and/or edited and/or co-edited over 350 published papers, chapters, books, and proceedings. He has been actively engaged with the Steering Committee of the Global Ecological Integrity Group (GEIG) since 1994.
Colin obtained his PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1982. He won the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) annual student prize in 1983 for his PhD thesis. Directly post-PhD, he was Director of the Epidemiology Research Unit of the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics at the University of Toronto. He moved to the University of Alberta in 1985, where he established and directed its epidemiology program and, from 1994, he built the graduate training program for the Department of Public Health Sciences. Most recently, he set the foundations for securing the status for the School of Public Health as Canada's first accredited such School by leading the initial application, the consultation site visit, and the foundations for the self-study.
Colin's major research contribution out of Alberta has been a follow-up study to that conducted for his PhD dissertation. These two pieces of work formed the basis for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in 1991, designating "occupational exposure to strong-inorganic-acid mists containing sulfuric acid" as a definitive human (Group 1) carcinogen, one of only 75 carcinogens-carcinogenic mixtures so recognized at the time, and one of only two so designated in the absence of animal data, thereby recognizing the strength of Colin's epidemiological research.
Between 1984 and 1996, Colin spearheaded efforts to bring the question of professional ethics into focus for epidemiologists worldwide. His work in advancing professional ethics continues.
The link between degrading environmental conditions and human health was first explored through a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant (1996-1999) on which Colin was a co-investigator. The dire conclusions of this research led to a World Health Organization (WHO) Workshop in December 1998, where the merits of our SSHRC interdisciplinary research were recognized. Following the Workshop, an official WHO Discussion Document was produced which placed this topic prominently on the international public health agenda. The document entitled "Global Ecological Integrity and 'Sustainable Development': Cornerstones of Public Health" is accessible at http://www.colinsoskolne.com/documents/WHO-1999_Discussion_Document.pdf .
Further research, growing from the findings of the papers that followed, has provided new indicators of environmental degradation, new indicators of human health and well-being, and methods for linking the two. Paradigm shifts in both the scientific method and policy recommendations arising from this work will be essential for effective social action. The contribution of Colin's work is pioneering in this area.
Colin hosted the 1996 annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE) in Edmonton. In 1997, he hosted that of the Society for Epidemiologic Research. In recognition of Colin's contributions to the ISEE he was, in 1998, honoured with a distinguished service award by the ISEE, as well as the Edmonton Ambassador Award. After his most recent four years as President of the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CSEB), Colin, in 2011, received the CSEB's award for professional service.
Colin has been a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology (FACE) since 1988. In 2002, Colin became a member of the Council of Fellows of the Collegium Ramazzini. The Collegium includes a select group of Fellows, not to exceed 180 throughout the world, each of clear personal distinction and integrity, distinguished by their contributions to occupational and environmental health, its science and its impact on policy.
Colin L. Soskolne, PhD, FACE
Professor of Epidemiology
Department of Public Health Sciences
School of Public Health | University of Alberta
3-266 Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, Mail-drop 3-300
11405-87 Avenue | Edmonton, AB | T6G 1C9
Tel: 780. 492.6013 | Fax: 780.492.0364