Dr. Michelle Greiver: Leader in primary care research

New Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair in Family and Community Medicine

Dr. Michelle Greiver
Dr. Michelle Greiver, Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair in Family and Community Medicine at North York General Hospital

As the new Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair in Family and Community Medicine, Dr. Michelle Greiveris tasked with conducting and championing research that will benefit the community North York General Hospital (NYGH) serves, and beyond. Heading 1

The Chair, named after one of North York General's greatest leaders and champions, was the first of its kind in Canada. Dr. Greiver succeeds Dr. Frank Sullivan, the inaugural Cheesbrough Research Chair. “I am very humbled to have been chosen as Chair,” she says, “and I am very grateful. I think it's an incredible opportunity to further very practical research that benefits patients, including my own patients.” 

In her new role Dr. Greiver also becomes the Director of the University of Toronto Practice-Based Research Network (UTOPIAN), which is a network of over 1,400 family physicians in practices within the Department of Family and Community Medicine's (DFCM) 14 academic sites in the GTA and beyond. The network brings together DFCM researchers, primary care clinicians and practices from all its academic sites to answer important health care questions and translate findings into practice.

“This is all about linking primary care clinicians, academics and researchers together to enhance and transform Canada's primary care system,” Dr. Greiver says. “Pooling our knowledge and resources helps us to improve quality and do research that can make lasting improvements to health care.”

“I think what sets me apart is that I am good at making connections,” Dr. Greiver says when asked about her greatest strength as a researcher. “I like bringing people with good ideas together to figure out how to fill gaps in our delivery of health care. No one person has all the answers, but by working together I believe we can make a real difference.”

A passion for primary care research

This focus on primary care research has been a longtime passion of Dr. Greiver, who will continue to practice as a Family Physician in the North York community. For many years, she has championed the concept of a research data centre that safely integrates electronic health data originating in family physicians' offices and in the hospital. The project was built based on the strong and long-standing ties between NYGH and physicians in the community, with a shared goal of breaking down silos in the health system and improving care for patients. 

Through collaborations with academic, clinical and information technology leadership at NYGH and the North York Family Health Team, the project has now been successfully launched and has been named the Health Databank Collaborative — Powered by North York General Hospital. Read more about this project. 

The Health Databank Collaborative is tapping into the wealth of information now captured in electronic form available at community academic hospitals, unlocking a great potential to contribute to the study of care and its improvement. “A patient's first point of contact is often with their family doctor,” Dr. Greiver says. “If we can follow their journey from the doctor's office to the hospital, we can piece together a more holistic picture of their health challenges and needs.”

Launch of National Diabetes Repository

Her work doesn't stop there. Dr. Greiver is also working with Diabetes Action Canada: in collaboration with others, her efforts resulted in the successful launch of the National Diabetes Repository managed at North York General by Dr. Greiver and her research team. 

At present, data originating from several provinces for over 80,000 patients living with diabetes are included. The repository is designed to enable research leading to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind diabetes and its related complications. She also leads a team of over 50 researchers, experts in quality improvement and patient partners across Canada that was recently awarded $1 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) with an additional $1.6 million in matching funds. Read NYGH's Research Spotlight about this project. 

“I am naturally curious,” Dr. Greiver says of her many roles. “And when you're naturally curious and you're passionate about what you do, it simply doesn't seem like work.”

Dr. Greiver joins three other NYGH research chairs 

Dr. Greiver is NYGH's fourth research chair, joining Monika Kastner, the Research Chair in Knowledge Translation and Implementation, Patricia Trbovich, the Badeau Family Research Chair in Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, and Katie Dainty, the Research Chair in Patient-Centred Outcomes, in our strategic initiative to strengthen the spirit of inquiry and our capacity to generate evidence that will transform the delivery of health care in Ontario. 

North York General is immensely grateful to lead donor and long-time leadership volunteer at NYGH, Mr. John Braive, Mr. Cheesbrough's family and many others from across Toronto, who supported the establishment of the Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair in Family and Community Medicine at North York General Hospital.

The appointment of the new research chair is part of our overall strategy to transform care through applied research and innovation. Visit our Strategy 2015-2019 for more information.

About the Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair in Family and Community Medicine

The Gordon F. Cheesbrough Research Chair in Family and Community Medicine is named after one of North York General Hospital's greatest leaders and champions. Mr. Cheesbrough had just completed a five-year term as Chair of the hospital's Board of Governors when he passed away after a sudden onset of aggressive lymphoma in June 2010. To honour his legacy and leadership, an endowment to fund the Cheesbrough Chair was established with a lead gift by Mr. John Braive along with tribute donations from family, friends and the business community.

Mr. Cheesbrough was first appointed to North York General's Board of Governors in June 2000. He was elected Treasurer in June 2001 and served in that capacity until his appointment as Chair in 2005. In these roles he provided incredible vision and leadership to our hospital, in service to our community, and led North York General to many great successes.

This article appeared in the October 2018 issue of The Pulse. 

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