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Dr. Peter D. Donnelly, President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Peter Donnelly is an accomplished leader with extensive experience in government and public health policy and program development and delivery at the local, national and international levels. 

He leads Public Health Ontario, the provincial agency which provides evidence for policy formulation and undertakes public health capacity building, as well as providing integrated public health laboratory and surveillance systems.

Prior to joining Public Health Ontario, Dr. Donnelly was the Professor of Public Health Medicine at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he established and led public health medicine research and teaching. From 2004 to 2008, he was the Deputy Chief Medical Officer to the Scottish Government, providing senior leadership and coordination at a national level. His experience includes national planning for communicable disease control and pandemic and emergency preparedness, as well as a range of public health promotion initiatives in areas such as tobacco control legislation, alcohol policy and sexual health. As the Director of Public Health in two jurisdictions, he was responsible for the delivery of local public health services and programs. 

Donnelly received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh Medical School and has earned multiple degrees and credentials, including masters in both business administration and public health, as well as a research doctorate.

He is an active researcher and lecturer in many areas of public health, with a focus on health systems governance and on violence reduction. He is involved with numerous national and international associations, including the international editorial board of Public Health, the World Health Organization Violence Prevention Alliance and the New York-based Milbank Memorial Fund. He is a past vice President of the UK Faculty of Public Health and past president of the UK Association of Directors of Public Health.


  • Doctor of medicine (research doctorate), University of Edinburgh
  • Masters of public health, University of Wales College of Medicine
  • Masters of business administration, University of Stirling
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, University of Edinburgh
  • Membership by examination of the Faculty of Public Health United Kingdom
  • Specialist accreditation in Public Health Medicine, United Kingdom General Medical Council
  • Diploma in anesthetics, Royal College of Surgeons
  • Program for management development, Harvard University School of Business Administration
  • Certificate in health services management, Institute of Health Service Management


  • Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, Queen’s University
  • Professor (Part Time), Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
  • Honorary Professor of Public Health, St Andrews University, Scotland


  • Doctor of science honoris causa, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Fellowship, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Fellowship, Royal College of Physicians of London
  • Fellowship, United Kingdom Faculty of Public Health

Areas of expertise

  • Public health
  • Health systems governance
  • Violence reduction

Selected publications

  • Rosella LC, Calzavara A, Frank J, Fitzpatrick T, Donnelly P, Henry D. The narrowing mortality gap between men and women over two decades: a registry-based study in Ontario, Canada. BMJ Open. 2016;6(11):e012564.
  • Gavine A, Williams D, Donnelly P, et al. Effectiveness of universal school-based programmes for the primary prevention of violence in adolescents. Psychol Violence. 2016;6(3):390-99.
  • Greer SL, Wilson I, Donnelly P. The wages of continuity: health policy under the SNP. Scott  Affair. 2016;28-44.
  • Kjaerulf F, Lee B, Cohen L, Donnelly P, Turner S, Davis R, Realini A, Moloney-Kitts M, Gordon R, Lee G, Gilligan J. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development: a golden opportunity for global violence prevention. Int J Public Health. 2016;61(8):863-864.
  • Lee BX, Kjaerulf F, Turner S, Cohen L, Donnelly PD, Muggah R, Davis R, Realini A, Kieselbach B, MacGregor LS, Waller I, Gordon R, Moloney-Kitts M, Lee G, Gilligan J. Transforming our world: Implementing the 2030 Agenda through sustainable development goal indicators. J Public Health Policy. 2016;37 Suppl 1:13-31. 
  • Lee BX, Donnelly PD, Cohen L, Garg S. Violence, health, and the 2030 agenda: merging evidence and implementation. J Public Health Policy. 2016;37 Suppl1:1-12. [Editorial]. 
  • Goodall, CA, Neville, FG, Williams DJ, Donnelly PD. Preliminary research informing policy on remote alcohol monitoring in criminal justice: the Scottish experience. Int J Public Health. 2016;61:865-72.
  • Elgar F, McKinnon B, Walsh S, Freeman J, Pickett W, Gasparde Matos M, Gariepy G, Aleman-Diaz A, Molcho M, Currie C, Donnelly P. Structural determinants of youth bullying and fighting in 79 countries. J Adolesc Health. 2015;57(6):643-50. 
  • Gavine A, Neville FG, Williams DJ, Goodall C, Donnelly PD.  Public health, youth violence and perpetrator well-being. Peace Confl. 2015;21(3):322-33. 
  • Hyland J, Donnelly PD. Air Pollution and Health - the views of policy makers, planners, public and private sector on barriers and incentives for change. J Transp Health. 2015;2(2):120-126.
  • Molcho M, Walsh S, Donnelly P, Gaspar de Matos M, Pickett W. Trend in injury-related mortality and morbidity among adolescents across 30 countries from 2002-2010. Eur J Public Health. 2015;25(Suppl 2):33-6. 
  • Chester KL, Callaghan M, Cosma A, Donnelly P, Craig W, Walsh S, et al. Cross-national time trends in bullying victimisation among children aged 11, 13 and 15 from 2002 to 2010. Eur J Public Health. 2015;25(Suppl 2):61-4. 
  • Hublet A, Bendtsen P, de Looze ME, Fotiou A, Donnelly P, Vilhjalmsson R, et al. Trends in the co-occurrence of tobacco and cannabis use in 15-year-olds in 28 countries of Europe and North-America, from 2002 to 2010. Eur J Public Health. 2015;25(Suppl 2):73-5. 
  • Stewart EA, Greer SL, Wilson I, Donnelly PD. Power to the people? An international review of the democratizing effects of direct elections to healthcare organizations. Int J Health Plann Manage. 2015 Jan 26. [Epub ahead of print] 
  • Erol R, Upton P, Mackenzie H, Donnelly P, Upton D. Delivering the future: an evaluation of a multidisciplinary clinical leadership programme. Br J Healthcare Manag. 2015;21(1):29-35.
  • Wilson I, Greer SL, Stewart EA, Donnelly PD. Turnout, information and heuristics in the Scottish Health Board elections: “Getting a CV with no job description”. Polit Stud. 2014 Dec 10. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Williams DJ, Currie D, Linden W, Donnelly PD. Addressing gang-related violence in Glasgow: a preliminary pragmatic quasi-experimental evaluation of the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV). Aggress Violent Behav. 2014;19(6):686-91. 
  • Neville FG, Goodall C, Williams DJ, Donnelly PD. Violence brief interventions: a rapid review. Aggress Violent Behav. 2014;19(6):692-8. 
  • Williams DJ, Donnelly PD. Is violence a disease? Situating violence prevention in public health policy and practice. Public Health. 2014;128(11):960-7.  
  • Clar C, Dyakova M, Curtis K, Dawson C, Donnelly PD, Knifton L, et al. Just telling and selling: current limitations in the use of digital media in public health: a scoping review. Public Health. 2014;128(12):1066-75. 
  • Stewart EA, Wilson I, Donnelly PD, Greer SL. “I didn’t have a clue what we were doing”: (not) engaging 16 and 17 year old voters in Scotland. Scottish Affairs. 2014;23(3): 354–68.
  • Donnelly PD. "It's the population, stupid": why changing the policy frame should help Scotland tackle its problem with cheap alcohol. Milbank Q. 2014;92(2):284-8. [Commentary]
  • Greer SL, Wilson Iain, Stewart EA, Donnelly PD. ‘Democratizing’ public services? Representation and elections in the Scottish NHS. Public Adm. 2014;92(4):1090-1105. 
  • Greer SL, Stewart EA, Wilson I, Donnelly PD. Victory for volunteerism? Scottish health board elections and participation in the welfare state. Soc Sci Med. 2014;106:221-8.
  • Gordon V, Williams DJ, Donnelly PD. Relationship between ADHD symptoms and antisocial behavior in a sample of older youths in adult Scottish prison. Pers Individ Dif. 2014;58:116-21.
  • Williams DJ, Neville FG, House K, Donnelly PD. Association between old firm football matches and reported domestic (violence) incidents in Strathclyde, Scotland. SAGE Open. 2013;3(3):1-7. 
  • Coid JW, Ullrich S, Keers R, Bebbington P, DeStavola B, Donnelly P, et al. Gang membership, violence, and psychiatric morbidity. Am J Psychiatry. 2013;170(9):985-93. 
  • Donnelly PD. Health inequality and governance in Scotland since 2007. Public Health. 2013;127(6):515-16. [Commentary]
  • Neville FG, Williams DJ, Goodall CA, Murer JS, Donnelly PD. An experimental trial exploring the impact of continuous transdermal alcohol monitoring upon alcohol consumption in a cohort of male students. PLos One. 2013;8(6): e67386.
  • Harvey M, Williams DJ, Donnelly PD. Testing a method to develop preliminary cost estimates of homicide in Glasgow: a research note. Crim Justice Policy Rev. 2013;24(4):510-23.
  • Donnelly PD, Ward CL, editors.  2014 Oxford textbook of violence prevention: epidemiology, evidence and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014  
  • Chambers A, Donnelly PD. Prevention of bullying at work. In: Sturmey P, editor. Wiley handbook of violence and aggression. Volume 3. Societal interventions. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. In Press 2016. 
  • Smith K, Stewart E, Donnelly PD, McKendrick B. Influencing policy with research –public health advocacy and health inequalities. In: Smith KE, Bambra C, Hill SE, editors. Health inequalities: critical perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2016. 
  • Williams DJ, Gavine AJ, Ward CL, Donnelly PD. What is evidence in violence prevention? In: Donnelly PD, Ward CL, editors.  2014 Oxford textbook of violence prevention: epidemiology, evidence and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 125-31.
  • Morris-Gehring A, Donnelly PD. How does policy transfer support the uptake of violence prevention policy? In: Donnelly PD, Ward CL, editors.  2014 Oxford textbook of violence prevention: epidemiology, evidence and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 303-8.
  • Donnelly PD, Ward CL. Interpersonal violence: a global health priority. In: Donnelly PD, Ward CL, editors. 2014 Oxford textbook of violence prevention: epidemiology, evidence and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 3-8.
  • Butchart A, Mikton C, Ward CL, and Donnelly PD. Challenges and priorities for practitioners and policy makers. In: Donnelly PD, Ward CL, editors.  2014 Oxford textbook of violence prevention: epidemiology, evidence and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 317-22. 
  • Ward CL, Donnelly PD. Violence prevention: challenges and priorities for researchers. In: Donnelly PD, Ward CL, editors.  2014 Oxford textbook of violence prevention: epidemiology, evidence and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 317-22.
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