Dr. Zahi Touma

2021 CRA Distinguished Investigator

Dr. Sasha Bernatsky MD FRCPC PhD

Dr. Sasha Bernatsky is a James McGill Professor of Medicine at McGill University (divisions of rheumatology and clinical epidemiology), and senior scientist within the Centre for Health Outcomes Research at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program, and McGill’s Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department.

Dr. Bernatsky is nominated PI of CAN-AIM (CAnadian Network for Advanced Interdisciplinary Methods for comparative effectiveness research), a pan-Canadian group funded by the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network (DSEN), a collaboration between CIHR, Health Canada, and other stakeholders. Working with Health Canada’s Marketed Health Products Directorate and other regulators, CANAIM studies high-priority drug safety and effectiveness topics, making essential contributions to Canada’s research capacity. Dr. Bernatsky also mentors within CIHR’s Drug Safety and Effectiveness Cross-Disciplinary Training Program, preparing future leaders in this field.

Working with the SLE International Collaborating Clinics and the Canadian Network for Improved Outcomes in SLE, Dr. Bernatsky leads international initiatives including assessments of malignancy in SLE, and personalizing approaches to hydroxychloroquine therapy.  She co-founded several collaborative networks, including the Canadian Rheumatology Administrative Data Network (CANRAD), focusing on optimal use of administrative data for research and surveillance.  Studying rheumatic disease patterns with administrative data from across Canada, she contributed greatly to Public Health Agency of Canada’s work on rheumatic disease case validation and helped the Canadian Institute for Health Information refine case definitions for federal research and surveillance.

Affiliated with the McGill Environmental Epidemiology Research Group and the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium, Dr. Bernatsky pioneered studies of air pollution and systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Her research is described by Health Canada’s Air Quality Assessment Section chief as “the first indication that air pollution could be tied to such a specific disease state, which influenced our thinking about the inflammatory potential of air pollution.”

Dr. Bernatsky is a leader in knowledge translation (KT), and recipient of the Canadian Arthritis Network Consumer Award, and Arthritis Alliance of Canada’s KT Award. She authored over 350 articles, funded by CIHR, the National Institutes of Health, and other agencies.   Dr. Bernatsky remains inspired by her wonderful mentors and by her patients, striving to live well in the face of challenges.