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Nathan Nickel 

Currently accepting students.

Current Position

Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Research Scientist, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy; Co-Lead of Population Health Pillar, Developmental Origins of Chronic Diseases in Children Network (DEVOTION)


July 2013: Postdoctoral Fellowship (Health Equity and Administrative Data),Manitoba Centre for Health Policy

December 2011: PhD (Maternal and Child Health Policy), Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

June 2007: MPH (Community Health Sciences), School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles

July 2004: BA Magna Cum Laude (Theology), Southern Adventist University

Research Focus

Dr. Nickel conducts maternal / child health research with an emphasis on health equity. Broadly, his research centres around two pillars: (1) Epidemiological research using linked administrative data and (2) Intervention studies aimed at supporting breastfeeding mother-infant dyads. In both pillars of research, Dr. Nickel applies a lens that considers the developmental origins of health and disease from an intergenerational perspective. He is the instructor for the graduate course in Epidemiology in the Department of Community Health Sciences.

Aligned with the first pillar, Dr. Nickel uses administrative data to study how social and structural determinants influence the distribution of maternal / child health outcomes. He has a particular interest in applying novel quantitative methods for causal inference to identify and examine policy levers and interventions which can both improve maternal / child health and reduce health inequities. In this vein, he has authored several peer-reviewed studies using individual-level data housed in the Manitoba Population Research Data Repository – a suite of approximately 70+ data files housed within the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy that capture information on the health and well-being of Manitobans.

Dr. Nickel’s second pillar comprises intervention research aimed at supporting breastfeeding among mother-infant dyads. During his PhD work, he studied North Carolina hospitals’ journey towards Baby Friendly. He is currently leading an intervention research study, which is learning from the experience of 12 New York City hospitals in their journey towards achieving Baby Friendly Designation. He is also a co-investigator with the CHAMPS Hospital Initiative, another intervention study supporting hospitals across the southern US in their efforts to implement the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Dr. Nickel has authored several studies looking at the implementation of breastfeeding support in healthcare (e.g., Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative) and community settings.

In 2017, Dr. Nickel Kenneth Hughes Young Investigator Award for Medical Research from the University of Manitoba. He also received the Sidney S. Chipman Alumnus Award for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Nickel is the Scientific Chair for Breastfeeding at the American Public Health Association and sits on the planning committee for APHA’s annual meeting. He is also a member of the Executive Council for the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation. He previously served as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Human Lactation.

Research Topics

  • Social and structural determinants of child health and health equity
  • Quantitative methods for causal inference
  • Intergenerational factors and child health and well-being
  • Policies and interventions to support breastfeeding
  • Relationship between breastfeeding and maternal and child health outcomes