Adjunct Professor


Dr. Tom Koch has an interdisciplinary PhD in geography, medicine, and philosophy/ethics from the University of British Columbia. As an adjunct professor in the department he has and continues to serve as a consultant on student projects, and collaborate with others interested in issues of disease studies, epidemic realities, and social responses.

During the recent coronavirus epidemic he was a principal source, through UBC Media relations, for magazine, newspaper, radio, and TV reports from Canada and the United States. Frequently quoted, “I saw the real job one of teaching, assuring reporters had the background to ask the appropriate questions. In two months he answered over 60 queries.

At UBC Geography he has taught courses in spatial data analysis using GIS and continues periodically to supervise discussions in medical ethics with UBC medical students. In 2017 the second, expanded edition of his Cartographies of Disease: Maps, Mapping and Medicine was published by Esri Press. A second book, Ethics in Everyday Places: Mapping Moral Stress, Distress and Injury was also published jointly in 2917 by ESRI and MIT Presses. In it, it maps become a medium for the exploration of moral stress and the practical ethical dilemmas average people confront in modern society.

Earlier, Tom Koch wrote the first books on elder care from the perspective of the caregiver, and separately, the care receiver, fundamentally changing the field of gerontology. He was also the first to write about the potential for digitally stored data and public information, lecturing in both Europe and the USA on the then new digital data revolution.

He is presently affiliated with a Toronto medical clinic where he works as a gerontologist and ethicist specializing in issues of chronic and palliative care.


GIS, Mapping and Health: Books using GIS

• Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2011.
• Cartographies of Disease: Maps, Mapping, and Medicine. ESRI Press, Redlands CA. 2005.
• The Wreck of the William Brown: Lifeboat Murders and Trial. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre; London: Constable. Includes 5 maps in a study of the seminal legal case, US versus Holmes. 2003.
• Scarce Goods: Justice, Fairness, and Organ Transplantation. Westport and London: Praeger Books. 2001. Includes 14 maps in its consideration of US policies of graft organ distribution 2001.
• Six Islands on Two Wheels: A Cycling Guide to Hawaii. Honolulu: Bess Press, Includes 18 maps in a cycling guide that Considered the “scale of the bicycle” in transportation. 1990.

Recent and forthcoming papers: GIS, Mapping and Health

• “Mapping Public Health and Disease.” History of Cartography Vol. 7. University of Chicago Press. In Press.
• “John Snow’s Broad Street Map: The legend.” History of Cartrography Vol. 7. University of Chicago Press. In Press.
• “Fighting disease, like fighting fires: The lessons Ebola Teaches.” Canadian Geographer. In Press.
• “Ebola in West Africa: lessons we may have learned.” International Journal of Epidemiology. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv324 Jan. 2016.
•“Ebola, Quarantine, and the Scale of Ethics.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Oct. 2015. DOI: 10.1017/dmp.2015.115
• “Mapping disaster: Old lessons Ebola made new,” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 9:1, 66-73 March 2015.
• Tom Koch on Ebola and Disease Maps, Remedia Audio interview (Harvard), Feb. 20, 2015.
• “Hubris: The Recurring Pandemic,” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, DOI: 10.1017/dmp.2014.107 Oct. 2014.
• “Prince Kropotkin: public health’s patron saint,” International Journal of Epidemiology 43 (6), 1681-5, Oct. 2014. • “Hubris: The Recurring Pandemic,” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, DOI: 10.1017/dmp.2014.107 Oct. 22, 2014.
• Ebola: Epidemics, Pandemics and the Mapping of their Containment Remedia: The History of Medicine in Dialog with the Present, the-mapping-of-their-containment/ Sept. 22, 2014.
• Ebola and the ‘new’ epidemic,” The Chicago Blog, University of Chicago Press, Aug. 13, 2014.
•Atlases of Disease: A review of “Atlas of Epidemic Britain: A Twentieth Century Picture.” Society and Space: Environment and Planning D (Open Site) July 2014.
• Nobody loves a critic: Edmund A. Parks and John Snow’s cholera,International Journal of Epidemiology 42: 1553–1559 Dec. 2013.
• The Researcher as amateur: John Lea, cholera, and … the computer age. International Journal of Epidemiology 3;42, 52–58 2013.
• Plotting to solve a mystery: Maps and London’s health. Geographical Journal (UK). April 26, 2012.
• Knowing its place: Mapping as medical investigation. The Lancet 379, 887-88 10 March, 2012.
•Review: Rebecca Solnit, Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas. Cartographica 46:2, 142-143. Spring 2011.
• Visualizing Disease: Understanding epidemics through maps. ArcUser, 64-67. Spring 2011.
• When cancer became public. The NAACCR Narrative, 11-13 Http:// Winter 2011.
•Koch, T. and K. Denike. Essential, Illustrative, or . . . Just Propaganda? Rethinking John Snow’s Broad Street Map Cartographica 45:1, 19–31. 2010.
• Disease Mapping. In Kitchin R, Thrift N (eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography Vol. 3, pp. 234-241. Oxford: Elsevier. 2009.
• Disease Mapping. In Kitchin R, Thrift N (eds) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography Vol. 3, pp. 234-241. Oxford: Elsevier. 2009.
• (with Ken Denike). Crediting his critics’ concerns: Remaking John Snow’s map of Broad Street cholera, 1854. Social Science & Medicine 69:8, 1246-1251. August 2009.
• The History of Disease Mapping. Encyclopedia of Human Geography. R. Kitchen and N. Thrift, Editors. Oxford, UK: Elselvier. July 2009.
• Social Epidemiology as Medical Geography:Back to the Future. GeoJournal 74:2, 99-106. April 2009.