Research Units

Below is a list of research units administered by some of our faculty and a few examples of their current research projects:

MERCURi Research Group

The MERCURi Research Group investigates the effect of management practices and structure on the quality of care provided to patients in health care systems.  The group studies executive leadership, first line supervision, organizational culture and the structuring of tasks within hospitals.   They also study the cognate issues of distress, career satisfaction, professional equity, and interprofessional relationships among health care providers.  The MERCURI Research Group uses a multi-disciplinary and mixed methods approach in its studies.

  • Rein Lepnurm, Scientific Director (profile) (email)
  • Roy Dobson, Managing Director (email)
  • David Keegan, Co-investigator (email)
  • Joe Garcea, Collaborator (email)
  • Debora Voigts, Chief Research Officer
  • Robert Nesdole, Research Officer
  • Marg Lissel, Research Field Officer
  • John Dickinson, Research Assistant

For general inquiries, please email the MERCURi Research Group at

Related Areas of inquiry:

  • Patient Perspectives on Quality
  • Interprofessional interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Measures of Performance in Health
  • Systematic Outcome Mapping in Hospitals

Current Projects:

  • Managing Quality in Hospitals. The relationships established in our studies of equity were found to be linked to quality of care. Our baseline studies found that quality of care is a function of: structuring of tasks, work culture, deployment of resources and provider morale. The tracer conditions of MI, CVA, C-section, hysterectomy and prostatectomy are used, generating investigations in several clinical units and hospitals within regional health system of Saskatoon. Plans are underway to replicate these studies in Halifax.
  • We study career satisfaction, stress, professional equity and organization of work within the health professions. Dobson has done pioneering work in the development of professional equity, while Keegan and I have developed measures of performance satisfaction and distress. I have developed measures of practice management and organization. While Dobson and I have conducted national studies of physicians, in 2000 and 2004, Backman has applied our work to the nursing profession in Saskatchewan and Ontario in 2006.
  • Patient Perspectives on Quality. We conduct interviews and surveys of patients' evaluation of quality of care. Our first study involved gathering evaluations of the quality of care provided by doctors and nurses to patients suffering heart attacks, stroke, prostate disease and undergoing hysterectomies in the three hospitals of the Saskatoon Health Region. A second study of patients using a refined quality measure is underway at St. Paul's Hospital.
  • Interprofessional interdisciplinary collaboration. We study how health care professionals work together and how they adapt, cooperate and collaborate in making the delivery of care more interdisciplinary. Some work has also been done on the interprofessional education experiences of pharmacy and nutrition students.
  • Professional Failure to Thrive. High levels of stress, multiple conflicting demands, injustices at work, lack of support from supervisors, and poor examples set by senior management are known to erode the career satisfaction of even the most committed health care professionals. A cascade of negative behaviours beginning with protest, progressing to resignation and culminating with withdrawal in adults was first reported by Stamler in 1997 and is now recognized by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association.
  • Systematic Outcome Mapping in Hospitals.  We study the linkages between task structure, leadership, organizational culture, staff and provider morale and evaluations of quality from patients, providers and operational data.   


  • Click here for a video simulation of a patient interview from our Managing Quality in Canadian Hospitals study.
  • Click here for a video simulation of a focus group from our Managing Quality in Canadian Hospitals study.
  • Click here for a short introductory video on the Managing Quality in Canadian Hospitals Study.

Most Recent Publications

  • R. Lepnurm, R.T. Dobson, D. Voigts, M. Lissel, L.L. Stamler. (2012). What matters most to patients when they assess quality of care, Journal of Hospital Administration, Journal of Hospital Administration, Vol 1(2): 7-16 URL:
  • R. Lepnurm, R.T., Dobson, L.L. Stamler, D. Persaud, D.L. Keegan, & B. Brownbridge, B. (2012). The contribution of work environment to nurses’ assessments of the quality of patient care. Healthcare Management Forum, 25, 70-79. URL:
  • R. Lepnurm Estonian "Tiger" Leaps bring better health to the nation, Journal of the British Estonian Association, 2012;3(5): 5-6. 

Most Recent Conference Presentations and Abstracts

  • R. Lepnurm, R.T. Dobson, L.L. Stamler, D.L. Keegan, Which supervisory and leadership factors are most important to quality of care in the Saskatoon Health Region? Abstract and Poster, National Leadership Conference, Canadian College of Health Leaders, June 3-5, 2012 Halifax.
  • R. Lepnurm, R.T. Dobson, L.L. Stamler, D.L. Keegan, Which organizational culture factors most influence quality of care in the Saskatoon Health Region? Abstract and Poster, National Leadership Conference, Canadian College of Health Leaders, June 3-5, 2012 Halifax.
  • D.D. Persaud, R. Lepnurm, R.T. Dobson and C. Simms. Dynamic Learning Culture and the Sustainability of Health Care Systems, Proceedings, The Sustainability Challenge: Organisational Change and Transformational Vision’ Ashridge Business School, Berkhamsted, Herts, UK, 10-12 June 2011.
  • R. Lepnurm, R.T. Dobson, D.D. Persaud, and D.L. Keegan. Modeling the Effect of Management on Quality of Care, Abstract and Poster, National Leadership Conference, Canadian College of Health Leaders, Whistler British Columbia, June 6-8, 2011.
  • R.T. Dobson, R. Lepnurm, D.D. Persaud and D.L. Keegan; The Importance of Management on Satisfaction with Performance of Duties, Abstract and Poster, National Leadership Conference, Canadian College of Health Leaders, Whistler British Columbia, June 6-8, 2011.
  • R. Lepnurm, J. Morrison, L.L. Stamler, D.L.Keegan, B. Brownbridge Treading lightly during the ongoing Managing Quality Study in the Saskatoon Health Region, Poster, Health Care Quality Summit, Regina April 20-21, 2011.

Funding: Core funding for the group's work has been sustained by a series of CIHR grants that have provided continuous funding since 2000. MERCURi faculty have also obtained a variety of grants from Health Canada, Saskatchewan Health, World Health Organization and other sources. Details on these are available on their personal websites.

Population Health Data Laboratory

The Population Health Data Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan is a secure research facility that houses anonymized population-based administrative health datasets from multiple Canadian provinces. The data laboratory support a program of research to investigate the quality (e.g., accuracy and completeness) of secondary, administrative health data and develop statistical models to address deficiencies in data quality. At present, these methods are being used to investigate multiple chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension, and Parkinson's disease.

The research conducted in the data laboratory benefits national and provincial agencies and organizations like the Public Health Agency of Canada and Saskatchewan Health, who are increasingly relying on administrative data to inform decision making about population-based health promotion and chronic disease management programs. It also benefits epidemiologists, health services researchers, and clinician scientists who study population health and health services use.

  • Lisa Lix, Lead Researcher  (email)
  • Bolanle Dansu, Visiting PhD Student (email)
  • Tolulope Sajobi, PhD Student (email)
  • Xue Yao, MSc Student (email)
  • Xiaojing Wu, Programmer/Analyst (email)
  • Sharmeen Zahir, MPH Student (email)
  • Courtney Kendall, Research Assistant
  • Shelley-May Neufeld, Research Assistant

Current Projects:

  • Ascertaining cases of chronic disease in Saskatchewan administrative data, Funded by Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.
  • Assessment of hypertension occurrence, management and outcomes in Canada, Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. This project is led by Dr. Hude Quan, University of Calgary.
  • The analysis of patient-reported outcome measures: Methods for response shift (PROM-RS), Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Saskatchewan Regional Partnership Program.
  • The science of data quality: Identifying research priorities, Funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research.
  • Completeness of physician billing claims databases in Canada, Funded by the Office of the Vice President, University of Saskatchewan.
  • Validation of administrative data diagnoses of chronic childhood arthritis in Saskatchewan, Funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. This project is led by Dr. Natalie Shiff, University of Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan drug utilization and outcomes research team, Funded by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. This project is led by Dr. David Blackburn, University of Saskatchewan.
  • Administrative database research in rheumatic diseases research and surveillance, Funded by the Networks of Centres of Excellence. This project is left by Dr. Sasha Bernatsky, McGill University.

Funding: Dr. Lix holds funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation to support graduate students. Interested students should contact Dr. Lix directly to inquire about the availability of funding.

Location of research unit: 501 - 121 Research Drive, Innovation Place, Saskatoon, SK

VIDO/InterVac (Vectored Vaccine Program)

VIDO-InterVac is a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies which protect humans and animals from infectious diseases of public health and economic consequence. The facilities include modern virology, immunology, bacteriology and biochemistry labs and a 160-acre research station. A not-for-profit research centre owned by the University of Saskatchewan, VIDO-InterVac operates with support from the provincial governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as Government of Canada and industry grants. VIDO's annual operating budget exceeds $12 million.

VIDO-InterVac has worked in the area of vectored vaccines for the past two decades. Vectored viruses have many advantages over conventional vaccines - needle-free delivery, induction of broad long lasting cellular and humoral immunities, economical production and no requirement for strong adjuvants. Live viral vectored vaccines are created by replacing segments of the viral genome with genetic material that represents the disease(s) being targeted by the vaccine. Since adenovirus vectors target mucosal surfaces, we have choosen to work with non human adenoviruses (porcine, bovine) for inducing mucosal immunity - an important consideration given the number of pathogens that enter the body through mucosal surfaces. These vectors are currently being tested for both human and livestock vaccines.

  • Suresh Tikoo, Lead Researcher (profile) (email)
  • Carolyn Paterson, Graduate Student (email)
  • Sanjeev Anand, Graduate Student (email)
  • Niraj Makadiya, Graduate Student (email)
  • Lisanwork Eshetu, Graduate Student (email)
  • Abhinay Dixit, Graduate Student (email)
  • Enqi Du, Post-Doctoral Fellow (email)
  • Satyender Hansra, Technician (email)

Current Projects:

Adenovirus has been used for many years as a model to study DNA replication, gene expression and virus-host interactions. In recent years, interest has also been focused on its potential use as a vector for vaccination and gene therapy. We have choosen to develop non human adenoviruses (bovine adenovirus [BAdV-]-3; porcine adenovirus [PAdV]-3) as vectors for delivery of vaccines. Since the development of non human adenoviruses as efficient vector(s) requires the basic knowledge about virus and its interactions with the host, the research in the laboratory includes projects both on adenovirus biology and, on the development and use of non human adenoviruses as vectors utilizing a variety of genomic and proteomics techniques. A major focus of the laboratory is to develop and use non human adenoviruses for vaccination of animals and humans. Current areas of research include:

  • Molecular characterization of non human adenoviruses
  • Non human adenovirus as a vaccine delivery vector
  • Targeted animal adenovirus
  • Adenovirus DNA packaging
  • Protein-Protein interactions
  • Role of structural \ non structural proteins in viral replicatio

Funding: Funds may be available from NSERC, DRDC, Devolved scholarship and from the University of Saskatchewan. Interested students should contact Dr. Tikoo directly to inquire about the availability of funding.

Location of research unit: VIDO, Univesrity of Saskatchewan, 120 Veterinary Road, Saskatoon, SK