What We Do

The HEAL team specializes in the production, evaluation, synthesis, dissemination and mobilization of evidence to support effective policies, programs and professional practice aimed at creating healthy and vibrant communities.

The HEAL is located within a state-of-the-art research and training facility within the Social Science Centre at Western University. The HEAL was established by Dr. Jason Gilliland in 2003. Funding for the renovation of the current HEAL facility was generously provided by the Estate of Donna and Al (Angel) Angelov in 2015.

HEAL faculty and students have come from a variety of academic disciplines, including geography, sociology, urban planning, engineering, landscape architecture, health sciences, epidemiology & biostatistics, neurosciences, paediatrics, and food and nutritional sciences.  The HEAL network currently includes associated faculty from other universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Fiji.

We specialize in applications of geographic information science (GIS) for addressing critical planning and public health issues. Current projects focus on issues related to children’s geographies, local food systems, public health (physical activity, food environments, air pollution, sleep, mental health), urban planning & development, and transportation (walkability, traffic modelling).

The HEAL team also places enormous value on community service. Since 2003, nearly 500 trainees, including grad students, undergrads, and high school co-op interns have been employed in the HEAL. Hundreds more Western and Fanshawe students have worked on class projects with HEAL members. During their time in the HEAL students volunteer directly with community organizations and/or contribute to projects in service of the community. The HEAL has creatively overcome challenges in the ‘real world’ through authentic and meaningful collaborations with community partners, instilling a sense of local responsibility and volunteerism in all HEAL members, and persevering in the face of evolving demands and low resource availability.

The HEAL team has worked with over 100 different community collaborators, including public health professionals, local food agencies, city planners, engineers, land developers, and builders, as well as policy-makers across the Province of Ontario, including its municipalities and regional school boards.

Funding for HEAL research projects has been provided by organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Children’s Health Foundation, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Lawson Foundation, and the Canadian Cancer Society. Click here to see a full list of supporters.

Location: Social Science Centre, The University of Western Ontario, 43.009511, -81.275729

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek (Ah-nish-in-a-bek), Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-no-show-nee), Lūnaapéewak (Len-ahpay-wuk) and Attawandaron (Add-a-won-da-run) peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. This land continues to be home to diverse Indigenous peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) whom we recognize as contemporary stewards of the land and vital contributors of our society.