Tarun Katapally, PhD

Tarun Katapally

Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Digital Health for Equity

Contact Information

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  • PhD (University of Saskatchewan)
  • MS (St. Joseph's University)

Graduate Program Supervision

  • Health & Rehabilitation Sciences MSc | PhD
  • Health Information Science MSc | PhD
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics MSc | PhD

Research In Profile

Professor Katapally is a physician and patient-oriented research leader who established the Digital Epidemiology and Population Health Laboratory (DEPtH Lab) in 2017 to develop a sustainable program of digital health research by scaling up the Smart Platform. Smart is a citizen science and digital epidemiological platform, which uses big data for one integrated outcome: health equity by addressing existing and emerging population health crises. In essence, Smart Platform enables the engineering of digital health solutions by harnessing the power of big data, with an emphasis on ethical citizen engagement, data sovereignty, and Internet equity. Dr. Katapally’s team conceptualizes, develops, and implements digital health platforms by intersecting citizen science and social innovation.

One of the key objectives of DEPtH Lab is to build capacity of high-quality training personnel to develop societal solutions in these areas: Active living; Child and youth health; Climate change; Food security and sovereignty; Global health; Indigenous health; Infectious diseases; Mental health; Substance misuse.


  • Citizen Science
  • Data Science
  • Digital Health, Digital Epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Health Systems Research
  • Human-Computer Interactio
  • Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
  • Precision Medicine

Current Research Projects

  • Digital Citizen Science Observatory – Digital Citizen Science Observatory is being developed by the Digital Epidemiology and Population Health Laboratory to address significant challenges and gaps in utilization of big data across sectors to predict and prevent public health crises.
  • Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance – The Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance is a network of researchers, health professionals and stakeholders who are working together to advance physical activity in children and youth from around the world.
  • CO-Away – The Home of the SMART Platform: A Digital Epidemiological and Citizen Science Initiative
  • In-Sync – The Home of the SMART Platform: A Digital Epidemiological and Citizen Science Initiative
  • Smart Indigenous Youth – The Home of the SMART Platform: A Digital Epidemiological and Citizen Science Initiative
  • Smart India – The Home of the SMART Platform: A Digital Epidemiological and Citizen Science Initiative
  • Smart Youth – The Home of the SMART Platform: A Digital Epidemiological and Citizen Science Initiative

Student and Trainee Opportunities

Professor Katapally provides cutting-edge theoretical, methodological, and analytical training that advances digital health by intersecting digital epidemiology, citizen science, community-based participatory research, data science, and public health. Through the DEPtH Lab, Professor Katapally also offers his trainees strong support systems. An important aspect of these support systems is to offer training in respectful community engagement, cultural safety, and research ethics. All DEPtH trainees are provided opportunities to write grant proposals with community partners, design digital health products, develop advanced data analytic skills, and disseminate knowledge via publish peer- reviewed manuscripts/reports.

Trainee Inquiries

Trainees (undergraduate to post-graduate) interested in joining the DEPtH Lab should review current projects and email Professor Katapally with their CV and cover letter, clearly articulating the project they would like to join. Trainees with previous experience in one or more of these areas will be given preference:

  • Computer science/Software development
  • Community Engagement
  • Data Science
  • Epidemiology
  • Quantitative methods
  • Program Evaluation
  • UI/UX

Research Leadership and Collaboration

Digital Health Leadership

Professor Katapally is an established leader in digital health who is making an international impact by balancing research and innovation with societal needs and decision-maker priorities. Two key aspects of Professor Katapally’s leadership are co-creating knowledge with Indigenous communities, and international active living initiatives, which are aided by his partnerships with community-based organizations, Indigenous communities, international and national stakeholders, and industry partners. Professor Katapally also contributes significantly as an expert in this field. He is a member of the College of Reviewers, and regularly participates in national grant review panels for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Mitacs, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Internationally, he contributes to the Medical Research Council and Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute grant reviews.

Partnerships with Indigenous Communities

As a settler scientist, Professor Katapally co-creates societal solutions with Indigenous communities. He is an Indigenous Peoples’ ally who endeavours to balance research and advocacy. After his postdoctoral fellowship at the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre, he has strived to work with urban, rural, and remote Indigenous communities to build relationships based on respect and trust. As part of these endeavours, he partners with Indigenous communities to provide training opportunities for Indigenous youth to potentially become community-based participatory researchers in the future – a long-term strategy to build capacity, promote equity, and increase representation. These efforts are centered on community partnerships and the principles of Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession. He continues to develop solutions that are relevant to Indigenous beliefs, identity, and needs – a reality that is enabled by using citizen and data science for decolonization. Indigenous partnerships are central to his research program and he strives to sustain and expand them.

Industry Partnerships

Professor Katapally has established extensive industry partnerships to stimulate and scale-up evidence-based initiatives that rely on big data for social innovation and digital health. Industry partnerships are critical for translating inventions to innovations, and for providing a path for commercialization. More importantly, Professor Katapally’s partnerships are based on citizen engagement and empowerment, with an eye towards local solutions for global problems, i.e., citizen science-based initiatives that are ethical and equity focused.

Global Health Initiatives

Professor Katapally has been leading initiatives with global impact since 2015, with a particular emphasis on addressing physical inactivity, which is one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases and mortality. The primary international research network collaborating with the DEPtH Lab is Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance, whose primary aims are to synthesize, evaluate and exchange active living evidence to inform policy and program interventions in 60 countries. Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance is a global network of researchers, health professionals, and stakeholders who are working together to advance active living policies for children and youth. The Alliance focuses on cross-jurisdictional policy advocacy across countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia by developing bi-annual global Report Cards. Since 2014, 122 national Report Cards have been developed, published, and distributed across the world, which highlights the international collaborations between teams of researchers and stakeholders. In addition, 240 academic presentations, including 7 keynote presentations, 9 invited presentations, 81 oral presentations, 22 oral presentations from symposia, 1 panel discussion, and 120 poster presentations were delivered at 84 different international, national, or local events. More importantly, significant global impact has been achieved in terms of raising awareness to provide children and youth with access to active living. To advance this global health research and advocacy, Dr. Katapally co-founded the non-profit organization, Active Healthy Kids India. Active Healthy Kids India not only addresses critical data and research gaps, but also serves as a platform to raise funds, bring together stakeholders, and implement social innovation initiatives that engage youth citizen scientists as partners to generate big data for health promotion.


Professor Katapally’s research program is funded by Canada Research Chairs Program, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Western University’s Interdisciplinary Development Initiatives.

Additional Information