Staff Biographies

Michael Chaiton, PhD– Lead Scientist

michael_chaitonMichael Chaiton is an Assistant Professor at the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU), in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and Co-Head of the Population Research Initiative on Mental Health and Addictions (PRIMHA) at OTRU. Dr. Chaiton’s work is focused on the social and psychosocial factors influencing tobacco use from a population health perspective. In particular, he is interested in how the dynamics of smoking are influenced by personal factors such as addiction and depression and environment factors such as tobacco policy and social environment. At OTRU, he is the project lead for the Ontario Tobacco Survey, a population representative longitudinal cohort study and is the principal investigator on a Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded study on policy options for addressing tobacco retail availability. His thesis work focused on the relationship of depression and smoking among adolescents.

Maritt Kirst, PhD – Lead Scientist

maritt_kirstMaritt Kirst is an Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and Co-Head of the Population Research Initiative on Mental Health and Addictions (PRIMHA) at OTRU. She is also an Affiliate Scientist at the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She received her PhD in Sociology and Addiction Studies from the University of Toronto. Dr. Kirst has extensive experience conducting socio-behavioural addiction research, evaluation research, and community-based health research with socio-economically marginalized populations. At OTRU, she leads evaluation studies in the areas of tobacco use prevention and protection programming and policy. She has been involved in evaluations of complex health interventions including housing programs for individuals experiencing homelessness and serious mental health issues, HIV test counseling programs, smoking quit line promotion programs, and youth engagement programming to prevent tobacco use and promote healthy choices. Her research interests also pertain to social contextual effects on substance abuse and mental health, transdisciplinary research methods, and health equity.