Danuta Skowronski is Epidemiology Lead of Influenza & Emerging Respiratory Pathogens at BCCDC, Clinical Professor in the UBC School of Population & Public Health and Principal Investigator, Canadian SPSN.
Dr. Skowronski has been recognized for her notable contributions around several major public health events such as SARS, avian influenza, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and enterovirus D68, and for regular expert guidance around seasonal influenza, an annual re-emerging pathogen.
She has received awards of excellence for her contribution to public health from the BC Provincial Health Officer and to quality of life from the BC Pharmacy Association. She was named a Woman of Distinction in delivering the 15th Hycroft Lecture for the UBC Women’s Club of Vancouver. In 2007, she received the UBC President’s Award for Public Education through Media. In 2010, the Vancouver Sun named her among the 100 most influential women of BC. In 2011, she was awarded the James M. Robinson Award and in 2015 her team received a PHSA+ award.
She completed her medical degree and family medicine training at Queen's University, and a master’s of health sciences degree and fellowship in community medicine at UBC. She is certified with the American Board of Preventive Medicine and completed additional training with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Dr. Skowronski is the epidemiology lead responsible for surveillance, rapid-response research and program and policy recommendations for influenza and emerging respiratory pathogens at BCCDC.
She is credited with having pioneered the test-negative design (TND), an epidemiological innovation for monitoring how well the annually reformulated influenza vaccine protects each year. The TND was recognized by Accreditation Canada in 2015 as an Innovative Leading Practice and has since revolutionized global capacity to monitor influenza vaccine benefits.
As principal investigator of the Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network (SPSN) for Influenza Virus and Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) Monitoring, Dr. Skowronski has played a critical role in Canada’s national influenza program by addressing gaps in knowledge on vaccine-virus relatedness and providing real-time VE findings to inform public health preparation and mitigation measures each season. The Canadian SPSN has led the way in incorporating detailed genetic characterization of circulating influenza viruses to improve our understanding of VE and the determinants of vaccine performance. Significant contributions from the SPSN include an agent-host perspective to understand variation in vaccine performance, including: directly linking genomic analysis of viruses collected from participants with VE; assessing the impact of mutations in the vaccine strain acquired through egg-based manufacturing; evaluating birth cohort effects induced by variation in immunological priming (imprinting) epochs; interactions between seasonal and pandemic viruses; and repeat vaccination effects. Twice each year, VE estimates from the SPSN are used by the World Health Organization to help inform vaccine strain selection in both hemispheres.