Forum adjunct faculty Steven Hoffman heads for Harvard
April 1, 2011 - Steven Hoffman, an adjunct faculty member with the McMaster Health Forum, has been accepted into Harvard University’s prestigious PhD in Health Policy program.
Hoffman, who is a graduate of McMaster’s Bachelor of Health Sciences Program and holds a master of arts in political science and a juris doctor from the University of Toronto, will begin full-time studies at Harvard in September. He has also been granted a Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship to support his studies in the first two years of the program. The fellowship recipients are selected based on outstanding academic excellence, strength of character, and potential for leadership in their fields.
The acceptance to Harvard adds to a string of significant accomplishments by Hoffman in recent weeks, including being called to the New York State bar, and being appointed as a part-time assistant professor in McMaster’s Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
He also had letters to the editor published in the February and March issues of the journals Health Affairs and The Lancet respectively, and peer-reviewed articles published in the Health Policy and Planning and Canadian Foreign Policy journals. The letters to the editor address the potential of the Health Impact Fund to be used as an enduring solution to the issue of access to medicines. The first of the two journal articles examines the past, present and future of global health security governance. The second article focuses on global health diplomacy in Canada’s foreign policy architecture and was the background study undertaken to inform the development of an upcoming Forum stakeholder dialogue.
Hoffman has been active with the Forum since its inception two years ago. He held a Forum Fellowship in 2009, and teaches two Forum-sponsored undergraduate courses on global health advocacy and governance. As part of the global health advocacy course he is currently teaching, he has organized a series of public talks featuring speakers with expertise in various topical issues related to global health.
He has also edited two student publications on global health, the second of which was launched at a public reception at the Forum on March 30, and has been distributed through the Equidad listserv of the Pan American Health Organization.
His research focuses on the politics of global health governance and the relationship between global and national health decision-making processes. Through his PhD studies, he plans to investigate a series of empirical puzzles that centre on the coordination of responses to emerging global health threats and inequalities by national governments and international organizations. Specifically, his work will probe how global health actors make decisions, and whether and how these decisions affect health systems in developing countries, so that interventions can be designed to ensure they are informed by the best available research evidence. This project responds to numerous studies which have shown that global health actors do not consistently use research evidence, including his own work with John Lavis which empirically showed that guidelines by the World Health Organization and World Bank on health systems often conflict directly with evidence from systematic reviews, without any explicit rationale for the divergence.
While attending Harvard, Hoffman will remain an adjunct faculty member of the Forum and will continue teaching his two Forum-sponsored courses.