Associate Professor
Social Medicine
Research Interests:

Substance use, injection drug use, harm reduction, drug policy, HIV/AIDS

Research Summary:

Dr. Thomas Kerr is Senior Scientist at the BC Centre on Substance Use and a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (Division of AIDS).

Dr. Kerr is a principal investigator of two US National Institutes of Health-funded prospective cohort studies involving people who inject drugs and street-involved youth, including the Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study (VIDUS). Dr. Kerr’s primary research interests are injection drug use, health policy, HIV/AIDS and health service evaluation. Dr. Kerr’s work has including leading the scientific evaluation of Insite, North America’s first safer injecting facility. His research in this area has contributed significantly to academic, public, and government discussion, both nationally and internationally, and was critical to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that allowed Insite to continue to operate. Dr. Kerr has also been involved in research focused on injection drug use and HIV/AIDS in Thailand, Australia, the US, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Dr. Kerr has published over 650 scientific papers in international peer-reviewed journals and has received local and national awards for his contribution to public health, including the National Knowledge Translation Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for his efforts to promote scientific discussion on the links between drug policy and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Kerr was the co-recipient of the inaugural Population and Public Health Research Milestones Initiative Award for his outstanding contribution to developing Canada’s research base for harm reduction and health equity approaches to HIV prevention and control, and also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor General of Canada for his contributions to science specific to substance use.

PhD – University of Victoria, Health Psychology- April 2003
Recent Publications:

Selected from 297 peer reviewed publications

  • 1. Kerr T, Palepu A. Safe injection facilities in Canada: Is it time? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2001; 165(4), 436-437. PMCID: PMC81369.
  • 2. Kerr T, Palepu, A. Safer injection facilities for injection drug users: The debate continues. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2002; 166(4): 424. PMCID: PMC99346.
  • 3. Kerr T, Wood E, Small D, Palepu A, Tyndall M. Potential use of safer injecting facilities among injection drug users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2003; 169(8): 759-763. PMCID: PMC203277.
  • 4. Kerr T, Kaplan K, Suwannawong P, Jürgens R, Wood E. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Funding for unpopular public-health programmes. Lancet, 2004; 364(9428): 11-12.
  • 5. Kerr T, Wodak A, Elliott R, Montaner JS, Wood E. Opioid substitution and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Lancet, 2004; 364: 1918-1919.
  • 6. Kerr T, Tyndall M, Li K, Montaner JS, Wood E. Safer injection facility use and syringe sharing in injection drug users. Lancet, 2005, 366: 316-318.
  • 7. Kerr T, Stoltz J, Strathdee S, Li K, Hogg R, Montaner JS, Wood E. The impact of sex partners’ HIV status on HIV seroconversion in a prospective cohort of injection drug users. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2006; 41(1): 119-123.
  • 8. Kerr T, Small W, Peeace W, Douglas D, Pierre A, Wood E. Harm reduction by a “user-run” organization: A case study of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). International Journal of Drug Policy, 2006; 17(2): 61-69.
  • 9. Kerr T, Stoltz J, Tyndall M, Li K, Zhang R, Montaner JS, Wood E. Impact of a medically supervised safer injection facility on community drug use patterns: A before and after study. British Medical Journal, 2006; 332: 220-222. PMCID: PMC1352057.
  • 10. Kerr T, Tyndall M, Zhang R, Montaner JS, Wood E. Circumstances of first injection among illicit drug users using a medically supervised safer injection facility. American Journal of Public Health, 2007; 97(7): 1228-30. PMCID: PMC1913080.
  • 11. Kerr T, Montaner JS, Wood E. Misrepresentation of science undermines HIV prevention. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2008; 178(7): 964. PMCID: PMC2267848.
  • 12. Kerr T, Montaner J, Wood E. Supervised injecting facilities: time for scale up? Lancet, 2008; 372(9636): 354-355.
  • 13. Kerr T, Marshall B, Miller C, Shannon Kate, Zhang R, Montaner JS, Wood E. Injection drug use among street-involved youth in a Canadian setting. BMC Public Health, 2009; 9(1): 171. PMCID: PMC2697990.
  • 14. Kerr T, Small W, Buchner C, Zhang R, Li K, Montaner JS, Wood E. Reductions in syringe sharing and HIV incidence among injection drug users coinciding with increased access to sterile syringes. American Journal of Public Health, 2010; 100(8): 1449-1453.
  • 15. Kerr T, Montaner JS, Wood E. The science and politics of heroin prescription. Lancet, 2010; 375(9729): 1849-1850.
Awards & Recognition:
  • National Health Research & Development Doctoral Fellowship, Health Canada, 2000 – 2001
  • Graduate Student Scholarship, International Harm Reduction Association, 2001 President’s Research Award, University of Victoria, 2001
  • Graduate Scholarship, Dallas Society, 2001
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), 2001 – 2002
  • New Investigator Award – Social Science Track, Canadian Association for HIV/AIDS Research , 2002
  • AccolAIDS Award (Science, Research & Technology), British Columbia Persons With AIDS Society, 2006
  • James M. Robinson Award for significant contributions to public health, University of British Columbia, 2006
  • International Journal of Drug Policy Award – Top 10 Cited Papers (2), 2006-2008
  • Scholar Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, 2006 – 2011
  • New Investigator Award, Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), 2006 – 2011
  • President’s Award for Public Education Through Media, University of British Columbia, 2007
  • National Award for Knowledge Translation, Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), 2007
  • Research Mission Award (Investigator), Providence Health Care, 2008
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Population and Public Health, Canadian Public Health Association – Population and Public Health Research Milestones Award, 2010
  • Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship, Drug Policy Alliance, November 2011