Ambreen Sayani, MD, MS, PhD

Ambreen Sayani

Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute,
Scientific lead, Equity-Mobilizing Partnerships in Community (EMPaCT),
Health Equity Expert Advisor to the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Ambreen Sayani, MD, MS, PhD's Twitter Handle: @SayaniAmbreen
Ambreen Sayani

Cancer is the leading cause of mortality in Canada. It is estimated that one in every two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer over the course of their lifetime, and one in every four Canadians will die of the disease. Despite a publicly-funded health system in Canada, there are significant differences in cancer-related health outcomes based on the distribution of the social determinants of health and for population groups who experience discrimination based on their social identity. In Canada, conditions of structured social disadvantage directly correlate with a higher risk of cancer, poorer quality of life and lower rates of survival.

To date, effective action to promote health equity has been hindered by the limited use of theoretical frameworks that conceptualize the relationship between systems/structures of oppression and health outcomes, little to no engagement of communities which are most impacted in research and project designs, and a failure to consider scalability and sustainability from the outset. Dr. Sayanis’ research program takes action to promote health equity by: (i) creating conceptual patient engagement frameworks that make explicit the linkages between social, political and economic inequalities and cancer outcomes; (ii) establishing social participation so that communities experiencing the most inequities have substantive influence in decision-making; and (iii) building considerations of scalability and sustainability into program design.

Dr. Sayani uses community-engaged and patient-oriented research methods to partner with stakeholders, including policy-makers, healthcare providers and patients (defined as community members with relevant lived/living experience) to co-design care so that the right patient receives the right intervention at the right time in a manner that is socially just and fair. Her goal is to improve cancer outcomes for all patients, in particular the most underserved. While specifically promoting patient-centered cancer care, Dr. Sayanis’ research program generates knowledge and learnings that are transferable across the healthcare sector so that we can provide timely, effective, safe and equitable care to all patients.

PhD, Health Policy and Equity, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

MS, Oncology, Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

MD, Dubai Medical College, Dubai, The United Arab Emirates.

  • Early Career, Transition to Leadership Stream in Patient-Oriented Research, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Phase 2 (2023-2026)
  • Quality Award, Quality Improvement Patient Engagement Award, Women’s College Hospital (2022)
  • Engaging Multi-stakeholders for Patient Oriented research Wider Effects & Reach (EMPOWER) Award, Ontario Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Support Unit (OSSU) (2021)
  • Early Career Investigator Award. Student and Early Career Investigator Scholarship (SECIS), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) United States of America (2021)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Transition to Leadership Stream in Patient-Oriented Research, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Phase 1 (2020-2022)
  • Leadership Award, Skinner Agents of Change Leadership Award, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2019)
  • Research Award, Culture of Discovery Research Award, Unity Health Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2019)

  • Equitable patient engagement
  • Patient-centered cancer care
  • Health equity
  • Social determinants of health