Ross Upshur

Ross Upshur, MD, MSC
Canada Research Chair in Primary Care Research; Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

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Ross Upshur received BA (Hons.) and MA degrees in philosophy before receiving his MD from McMaster University in 1986. After 7 years of rural primary care practice he returned to complete his MSc in epidemiology and fellowship training in Community Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto. He is currently the Medical Director, Clinical Research, Bridgepoint Health.


Dr. Upshur is the Canada Research Chair in Primary Care Research. At the University of Toronto he is a Professor at the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Adjunct Scientist at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences, an affiliate of the Institute of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and a member of the Centre for Environment. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences and Associate Member of the Institute of Environment and Health at McMaster University. He is the former Director of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (2006-2011) and was a staff physician at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre from 1998-2013. He is a member of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.


His research focuses on the intersection of primary care and public health particularly with respect to the interrelationship between ethics and evidence. His current interests include managing complex chronic disease in aging adults, clinical measurement, the concept of evidence in health care, philosophy of medicine including medical epistemology and the integration of ethics and clinical reasoning, public health ethics, global health ethics, empirical approaches in bioethics, primary care research methods, time series applications in health services research, communicable disease and environmental epidemiology. He has held numerous grants from the CIHR. He has over 300 publications including more than 180 peer reviewed publications spanning these domains.


At the University of Toronto, he has designed and taught courses in the graduate, post graduate and undergraduate curriculum in ethics, epidemiology and the philosophy of medicine as well as supervising and co supervising over 75 graduate students and post graduate research students. He is a clinical supervisor in the post graduate Family Medicine Residency program, having been core supervisor for 15 postgraduate trainees in family medicine.


He has been active on Advisory Boards for the International Joint Commission, Doctors Without Borders, and, several medical journals and consulted with the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health. In 2008 he was named the Academic Family Physician of the Year and Researcher of the Year by the Department of Family and Community Medicine and received the John Hastings Award for Excellence in Service to the University and Community from the Department of Public Health Sciences.



Selected Publications:

  1. Upshur REG, Lavery JV, Tindana PO. Taking tissue seriously means taking communities seriously. BioMedCentral Medical Ethics 2007; 8: 11. pdf link
  2. Jaakkimainen L, Upshur REG, Schultz SE, Maaten S, eds. Primary Care in Ontario. ICES Atlas. Toronto: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, 2006, 250 pp. web link
  3. Upshur REG, Faith K, Gibson JL, Thompson AK, Tracy CS, Wilson K, Singer PA. Stand On Guard for Thee: Ethical considerations in preparedness planning for pandemic influenza. A report of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics Pandemic Influenza Working Group. November 2005, 29 pp. pdf link
  4. Singh JA, Upshur R, Padayatchi N. XDR-TB in South Africa: No Time for Denial Of Complacency. PLoS Medicine 2007; 4: e50. pdf link