2022-2023 Polyani Prize in Physiology and Medicine
PhD '21, Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation
Dr. Kieran Quinn was wrapping up a busy day of clinical service on the general medicine ward at Mount Sinai Hospital when his phone rang. On the other end was Dr. Chaim Bell, his PhD supervisor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME), urging Quinn to check his email.
The message he read stopped him in his tracks: he was one of only three students in all the University of Toronto to win a Governor General’s Gold Medal for highest academic standing at the graduate level. “I’m still kind of in shock, to be honest,” says Quinn, smiling.
Quinn recently completed his PhD in the Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research program at IHPME—all while juggling his duties as a physician and a father of three young kids. “It’s quite a balancing act. Between clinical work, research and having a family that I try to be there for as much as I can, it’s always a constant challenge to manage my time,” he says.
Quinn, who practices general internal medicine and palliative care at Sinai Health system wrote his dissertation on how patients with non-cancer illnesses receive end-of-life care. He says he was compelled to do his PhD after witnessing the suffering of his patients, who had varying levels of access to palliative care services. “Observing this on a day-to-day basis really drove me to try and think about ways we can change our health care system to minimize these disparities and improve the quality of end-of-life care. I believe that research is one of the ways we can enact meaningful change,” says Quinn.
Reflecting on the award, Quinn says he is deeply appreciative of the acknowledgement and grateful to his support network including family, mentors and colleagues. “I’m so honoured to have been put forward and chosen for it. It’s really rewarding to be recognized for the hard work I’ve done, but I owe a lot to the people around me who’ve supported me. I think this honour is shared amongst all of them.”
“I’m so honoured to have been put forward and chosen for [the Governor General’s Gold Medal]. It’s really rewarding to be recognized for the hard work I’ve done, but I owe a lot to the people around me who’ve supported me. I think this honour is shared amongst all of them.”— Dr. Kieran Quinn
Dr. Kieran Quinn is a General Internist and Palliative Care Clinician-Scientist at Sinai Health System and a Clinician-Scientist in the Department of Medicine and Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and an Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). His research focusses on using advanced analytic methods and large administrative datasets to improve access and delivery of high-quality end-of-life care for patients with terminal noncancer illness, such as heart failure and dementia, and improving the recognition and care of patients with the post COVID-19 condition (long COVID).
Dr. Quinn was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence and the John Charles Polanyi Prize in Physiology and Medicine. He served as the Assistant Director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and currently is the Assistant Director of the Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee and an Expert Member of the Chief Science Advisor’s National Task Force on the Post COVID-19 Condition. His early research success includes over $27 million dollars in competitive grant funding and 3 CIHR grants as nominated principal applicant. He has 70 peer-reviewed publications, including 47 as first author or senior author in high impact journals such as JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, BMJ and CMAJ.