Dr. Michelle Greiver recently completed her five-year term as Cheesbrough Chair in Family Medicine Research at North York General Hospital, where she led the University of Toronto Practice based Research Network, UTOPIAN. As she wrapped up that role, Greiver has also stepped down from leading Diabetes Action Canada’s National Diabetes Repository.
While she will continue in her role as a family physician and begin a new position as Research Program Advisor with the University of Toronto, Greiver remains, as ever, incredibly passionate about the importance of data-based research to improve health outcomes for all Canadians.
“I’m most proud of the ability to see beyond today’s difficulties to a better world. And that’s through things like big data used safely and securely in the public benefit; we must be careful about managing corporate interests in data. Data must benefit people through research, and through innovation,” she says. “Data can really make a difference and improve care for people living with diabetes, both immediately and for the future”.
Greiver has also led important initiatives for responsible health data use. This included her work with DAC, where she championed Patient Partners having a role in data governance and stewardship. Patients were key in deciding which research projects were granted access to data in the National Diabetes Repository for research. She is hopeful that, moving forward, good governance of data will make it easier for it to be used to support the greater good.
“I would like the next generation to have much better access to data. We need to strengthen and reorganize our data access systems; these can require redundant applications to multiple research ethics boards. Goals include having more researchers ethically use it, and ensuring that patients have a better idea of what’s done with their data–nothing about me without me,” she says. “I would strengthen patient involvement in big data projects so patients have a role in guiding what’s done with the data, and also monitoring how these data are accessed, used, managed, shared, etc. The strongest barriers should be for commercial uses, where there is no patient involvement and where this is done for profit. Currently, there are sometimes less restrictions for these types of uses and more restrictions for uses in the public benefit. This needs to be rebalanced.”
Finding that balance is something Greiver will continue to advocate for in any future roles. She believes strongly that locking away data does not advance health. “There’s a need to protect the public by conducting good research in ways that protect privacy, and by conducting good studies and using the data that we have.”
Greiver will be missed by the entire team at Diabetes Action Canada, who have learned much from her expertise and benefitted greatly from her leadership on the National Diabetes Repository.
“Michelle has always understood and advocated for the use of primary care data in research. She has helped build our National Diabetes Repository to help answer important questions and concerns articulate by our Patient Partners to better understand diabetes complications management and treatment,” says Diabetes Action Canada’s Executive Director, Tracy McQuire. “DAC now has an extremely valuable resource available to all our members that is patient-led and fills an important gap in understanding our diabetes impacts individuals in many different ways.”
Written by Krista Lamb
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