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Women's College Hospital


Clinician Scientist



Dr. Gillian Hawker is Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, at the University of Toronto. She is active staff in Rheumatology at Women’s College Hospital, where she is a clinician-scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute. She is a senior scientist at the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and adjunct senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. In July 2014, she was appointed the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto (U of T).

Dr. Hawker graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto in 1984. She initially pursued residency training in Family and Community Medicine, but quickly realized her heart was in internal medicine. She therefore transferred to residency training in internal medicine, during which she served as chief medical resident at Mount Sinai Hospital from 1987-88 (first child born). She went on to complete a residency in rheumatology (1986-89; second child born) and an Arthritis Society of Canada research fellowship at the University of Toronto (1989-1993; third child born), during which she received a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology and healthcare research at the University of Toronto. In 1993, she joined the Faculty of Medicine as a clinician-scientist at Women’s College Hospital.

Over the course of her academic career, Dr. Hawker has established a record of academic excellence in the field of osteoarthritis (OA) outcomes. A predominant theme of her research has been on appropriate use of joint replacement surgery for OA. Her work has been important in elucidating the roles of clinical need, patient preferences, gender and physician bias in determining rates of use of joint replacement. This work has underscored the need for validated criteria to define appropriate use for this surgery, which is the focus of a current CIHR-funded grant (2014-2019). Dr. Hawker has supervised numerous research trainees at the undergraduate, resident, and graduate levels and has served as a member of many academic and governmental advisory committees. Her research collaborations are wide, spanning many countries.

Dr. Hawker has published more than 230 peer reviewed articles and has received a number of honours and awards for her research. These include: the Canadian Rheumatology Association Distinguished Investigator Award in 2011; the Senior Distinguished Research Investigator Award from The Arthritis Society of Canada (2006-2011); the 2001 Medal for Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; the Elizabeth Winston Lanier Kappa Delta Award for Outstanding Orthopaedic Research from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2002; a Premier’s Research Excellence Award from the Ontario Ministry of Health in 2001. For her continued contributions to osteoarthritis research, Dr. Hawker was honoured, in 2013, by The Arthritis Society of Canada with a Queen’s Jubilee Medal. In 2013, Dr. Hawker was also recognized for her contributions to mentorship with the Department of Medicine’s Robert Hyland Award for Excellence in Mentorship.

Dr. Hawker is a passionate advocate for improving arthritis care locally, nationally and internationally. She co-chaired the 2005 Summit to establish Canadian standards for arthritis prevention and care, was a founding member of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada, has served on the Board of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International, is former chair of the Quality of Care subcommittee on Classification and Response Criteria for the American College of Rheumatology and led the establishment of international criteria for rheumatoid arthritis in 2010-11.

From 2000 to 2006, Dr. Hawker served as director of the Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research Program in the Faculty of Medicine. As program director, she was integrally involved in the transition of the program from its status as an extra-departmental unit to a program within the Department of Health Administration, now IHPME. The program has been highly successful and remains to date the principle stream for graduate training of clinician-scientists in clinical epidemiology within the Department of Medicine. With the support of the University, one of the first doctoral programs in clinical epidemiology in North America was established at U of T.

Upon de-amalgamation of Sunnybrook and Women’s College Hospital (WCH) in 2006, Dr. Hawker was appointed physician-in-chief (PIC) of medicine at Women’s College and the FM Hill Chair in Academic Women’s Medicine. WCH had been tasked by the provincial government to be a leader in innovative ambulatory care, research and education – and needed to build a firm foundation upon which to realize this future. Over her tenure as PIC (2006-2014), Dr. Hawker was instrumental in laying the foundation for innovative models of ambulatory care and education designed to keep patients with complex medical needs out of hospital.