Laurie Smith is the program manager of the Global Control of HPV Related Diseases program at the Women's Health Research Institute (WHRI), and has worked tirelessly to control and eliminate cervical cancer in B.C.
She joined PHSA in 2006 as a program manager for HPV FOCAL, a UBC/BC Cancer clinical trial. With her leadership and background as a certified practice nurse in STI and contraception management, HPV FOCAL recruited over 25,000 women and compared HPV and cytology as the primary screen for cervical cancer. Findings were published in JAMA in 2018 and have been highly influential in setting screening policy in Canada and globally.
Transitioning to WHRI in 2015, Laurie has been central to the advancement of the Global Control of HPV program. She oversees all program activities, staff and finances, and has been instrumental in the successful awarding of several research grants. She not only facilitates the development of trainees and early career researchers, but also significantly contributes to publications and presentations focusing on HPV related counselling, making her a key content expert and resource for clinicians.
We had a chance to catch up with Laurie Smith on her work. Learn more about Laurie by reading the Q&A below.
1. Can you tell us about your role at BC Cancer and the Women's Health Research Institute?
I am the program manager for HPV Related Diseases Research. I started at PHSA in 2006 as a project manager for a large cervical cancer screening trial and my role has grown and evolved since then. Our program has a focus on women's health and much of our research is centered on the elimination of cervical cancer. I have the opportunity to work and collaborate with a diverse and multidisciplinary team that involves researchers, clinicians, staff and trainees. In my role I wear several hats: administrative, leadership, management and I am involved in various aspects of all of our research projects. We have an expanding portfolio and it's exciting to be involved in a variety of different kinds of projects from planning to implementation and evaluation and know that our work has the potential to improve the health of women, their families and the community at large.
2. How did you feel when it was announced that you're a PHSA+ Award winner?
I was grateful to have been nominated, and then to be chosen as a winner is remarkable. I am very fortunate to have worked with a team of amazing researchers and public health leaders for years and to have been recognized by them and the organization is an honour. I am continually inspired by the network around me and the work that we do.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Quite honestly, it's the people! I am motivated by the people I work and collaborate with and those that benefit from what we do. To work in a field that has the potential to make a difference in people's lives and improve health outcomes is truly rewarding and is what has kept me growing professionally and personally for years.
4. What has been your proudest moment at work?
Receiving this award is certainly a proud moment! After so many years working in this field, it's difficult to identify only one proud moment, as I have several. I feel most proud when the research that we are conducting informs public health policy and programming.
5. Tell us something about you that most people don't know - about a hobby or passion, or something else.
I love travel and am fortunate to have been to many places around the world, but my most life changing trip was when I camped through seven countries in Africa. It was several years ago now (pre-smart phone days!), and it was challenging at times but I have so many amazing memories from the things I saw, the people I met and the experiences we had.
Join us in congratulating Laurie on her PHSA+ Award! Thank you for your remarkable work and consistently going above and beyond!