An established researcher with a comprehensive portfolio that covers the span of complementary and alternative health care (CAHC), Dr. Brenda Leung has been appointed as the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Health Sciences Emmy Droog Chair in Complementary and Alternative Health Care.
The $2 million endowed Professorship is the first for the Faculty of Health Sciences, creating the opportunity for the Faculty to broaden its research and teaching in a unique discipline.
“This is a great opportunity to establish a research program at the University of Lethbridge, and I’m very excited at the possibilities it presents,” says Leung, who has been an adjunct assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. “I plan to continue my research in the use of supplements and complementary and alternative therapies in mental health and other chronic conditions. This research is extremely relevant to the issues of public health, given the continuing rise of chronic diseases in Canada and other western countries.”
The Emmy Droog Chair in Complementary and Alternative Health Care is enabled by a gift of $1 million from southern Alberta businessman Dr. Tom Droog (LLD ’06). The award is named for Droog’s late wife, Emmy, who lost a long battle with cancer. Its focus is both to establish an evidence-based research program that explores the issues and care practices associated with complementary and alternative medicine and to create educational opportunities for nursing and health sciences students to integrate alternative and complimentary health into their practice.
“Dr. Leung is a wonderful addition to the outstanding faculty we have within health sciences, and the experience and knowledge she brings with her in the areas of complementary and alternative health care is substantial,” says Dr. Chris Hosgood, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. “Nursing, addictions counseling and public health are naturally inclined to explore the use of alternative therapies and now we have the opportunity to fully develop expertise in these areas.”
Leung earned her bachelor of science undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia before turning her focus to naturopathic medicine. She earned her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and then completed a master of science at the University of Calgary where her thesis explored the use of naturopathic medicine in children. She obtained her PhD in Epidemiology, also from the University of Calgary.
Her five-year research plan at the U of L promises to take advantage of the multi-disciplinary expertise on campus.
“My goal is to develop a program of research that is interdisciplinary and collaborative, involving scientists from neuroscience, mental health, maternal and child health, nutrition, as well as practitioners of CAHC,” she says.
In addition to incorporating CAHC courses into the curriculum, her work will also involve the mentoring of undergraduate students and eventually the recruitment of graduate students. As the research program evolves, Leung sees great potential in establishing the U of L as a hub for the study of complementary and alternative health care practices.
“We have the opportunity, with the diverse sector of researchers and stakeholders invested in this program, to become a leader in the field at the local, national and international level,” she says.