TRANSFORM HF researcher Dr. Sahr Wali (Scientific Associate, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research) has received a CIHR Health System Impact Embedded Early Career (ECR) Researcher Award. Sahr is one of only 12 awardees across Canada.

The Health System Impact (HSI) program supports programs that address the most pressing problems faced by health system organizations and advance evidence-informed decision-making. The four-year ECR award – a new addition to this program – has been designed to help establish career pathways for ECRs and generate additional research capacity within health system organization.

2024 CIHR Health System Impact Embedded Early Career Researcher Award Recipients

Sahr will be working in partnership with rural and urban community organizations to develop a care pathway that provides community-first cardiac care services. Her project is supervised by Anne Simard (Staff Scientist, UHN; Director of Strategy and Translation, TRANSFORM HF) and Dr. Angela Mashford-Pringle (Assistant Professor and Indigenous Health Lead, University of Toronto).

“To better support the unique needs of a community, it is important to not only understand the factors contributing to their health, but also what they define as health and healing,” explains Dr. Wali.

Differing from clinical programs, which often focus strictly on the use of medicine, Sahr’s work seeks to understand how different cultures support their overall well-being and integrate findings into care delivery. Using a reflexive approach, a strong emphasis on digitally enabled care solutions will also be evaluated in reference to its ability to improve care access and enable the principles of cultural safety into clinical practice.

“Digital health technologies have displayed their value in providing equitable models of care delivery,” says Sahr. “But there is a risk that digital tools can further exacerbate existing health disparities if they are not designed to empower the strengths of the local setting.”

With the current mismatch between technological innovation and human social structures, there is concern that the digital divide will compound the effects of socioeconomic divisions. To address these challenges, Sahr’s program of research will work in partnership with communities to evaluate the applicability and cultural appropriateness of different community and digital resources to support cardiac care.

“The ultimate vision of this research program is to bring community and clinical resources together to help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in ethnic communities,” says Sahr.

The first phase of Dr. Wali’s work will be focused on building partnerships, understanding community priorities, and co-developing culturally safe partnership goals and research methods.

We’re looking forward to following Sahr’s work over the next four years, and beyond!