Dr. Jane Y. Polsky
Health System Impact Fellow Profile

Dr. Jane Y. Polsky
Host Partner Organization:
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES)
Name of Host Partner Organization Supervisor:
Dr. Astrid Guttmann
Location (city, province):
Toronto, ON
Academic Institution:
St. Michael’s Hospital (affiliated with University of Toronto)
Name of Academic Supervisor:
Dr. Gillian L. Booth
Duration of Fellowship:
1 year
Title of Fellowship / Program of Work:
Developing partnerships to establish a cross-sectoral data repository for policy evaluation


I am an epidemiologist with a longstanding interest in social determinants of health and chronic disease prevention. I am particularly interested in how our social and environmental conditions “invisibly” shape people’s choices and behaviours that influence their risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes, and how these conditions are often unevenly distributed in our society along socio-economic lines. I earned a Master of Science in epidemiology from Queen’s University and a PhD in public health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto in 2017. My doctoral research explored how local retail food environments in southern Ontario may shape residents’ risk of excess body weight and diabetes. Results from this research have been featured in local and national media, and have been used by local public health units to inform the design of strategies to create food environments that better support healthy eating.

Fellowship Program of Work

A core mission of the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), my host partner organization, is to conduct cutting-edge analyses which generate trusted evidence that makes policy better, health care stronger and people healthier. This is accomplished by providing ICES and external researchers with access to a secure and vast array of health-related data on 13 million residents of Ontario. These data holdings are a result of numerous partnerships with a diverse set of organizations, including cross-sectoral ministries and different non-health agencies.

My program of work within ICES as a HSI Fellow will support the forging of new partnerships and strengthening existing partnerships with external organizations, which is among ICES’ current core priority areas. My work will also support another core priority – the capacity to conduct novel research by acquiring non-traditional “health” data which are often not captured in health datasets, namely, data on social determinants of health (e.g. income and education). I also hope to contribute to enhancing ICES’ understanding and expertise in the use of these non-health data.

I am thrilled to be working with Dr. Astrid Guttmann, ICES’ Chief Science Officer. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to learn about multiple stages of partnership building (from stakeholder engagement to partnership evaluation), and to supporting work to fill critical gaps in ICES’ data holdings. It is my hope that results of this work will contribute to the generation of high-quality evidence to improve health care and population health, and to redress socioeconomic inequalities in health care access and outcomes.

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