PRESS RELEASEAugust 18, 2015

Toronto Physician-Researcher Tackles Women’s Cancers on Global Scale in New Appointment at the World Health Organization

  • August 18, 2015

August 14, 2015  |  Download Release

Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto Department of Medicine are pleased to announce that Dr. Ophira Ginsburg, scientist at Women’s College Research Institute and assistant professor in the department of medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, has been appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) for a one-year term starting this fall. Her appointment takes her to Geneva, Switzerland, where she will work alongside the world’s foremost clinicians and scientists; focusing on the development of WHO guidance, recommendations and implementation frameworks for breast and cervical cancer prevention, early detection and management as part of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)

"I'm honoured to be selected for this important new post at WHO,” says Dr. Ginsburg. “It has been a lifelong dream to be working on programs that make a difference in the lives of women and girls around the world. There is real momentum now in the global oncology community, and it’s an exciting time to be involved in advancing policy and advocacy for women's cancers worldwide".

Dr. Ginsburg is a scientist at Women’s College Research Institute and an assistant professor with the University of Toronto’s Department of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. A medical oncologist with a background in cancer genetics and epidemiology, Dr. Ginsburg’s research is focused on women’s health equity and global cancer control. Dr. Ginsburg received a Bachelor of Science, Honours, Biology, from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (1989), a Master of Science, Genetic Counselling, from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (1992) and a Doctor of Medicine, Biology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada (1998).

“We are delighted to have one of our very own scientists take on this prestigious new position at the WHO,” said Dr. Paula Rochon, vice-­‐president, research, Women’s College Hospital. “Dr. Ginsburg will be involved in an important initiative to help build policy and programming for women’s cancers, an area that she has been passionately dedicated to through her research and advocacy work. Her position at the WHO is an exciting and important step in her career.”

“Dr. Ginsburg’s appointment to the WHO is evidence of the international impact her research has had, and a testament to the commitment of our faculty to improving the health and healthcare of the population,” said Dr. Gillian Hawker, Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto.

According to WHO, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide with approximately 1.4 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. In 2012, breast and cervical cancer took the lives of 522,000 and 266,000 women worldwide, respectively. They are the most common cancers among women, with the majority of deaths occurring in young women in low-and middle-income countries. Extreme poverty, compounded by gender inequity often limits a woman’s ability to seek care.

In 2013, WHO launched the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013 – 2020. The program aims to reduce premature mortality from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases by 25 per cent by 2025. More than 90 per cent of premature deaths from NCDs occur in low-­‐ and middle-­‐income countries, and could largely be prevented.

“At WCH, our focus on health for women and girls extends beyond the communities we serve in Toronto. Our clinicians and researchers are focused on finding solutions to the most complex health system issues in Canada and around the world”, said Marilyn Emery, president and CEO, Women’s College Hospital. “Dr. Ginsburg’s ongoing work is a shining example of the global importance of equal access to healthcare.”


About Women’s College Hospital 

For more than 100 years Women’s College Hospital (WCH) has been developing revolutionary advances in healthcare. Today, WCH is a world leader in the health of women and Canada’s leading, academic ambulatory hospital. A champion of health equity, WCH advocates for the health of all women from diverse cultures and backgrounds and ensures their needs are reflected in the care they receive. It focuses on delivering innovative solutions that address Canada’s most pressing issues related to population health, patient experience and system costs. The WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) is developing new, scalable models of care that deliver improved outcomes for patients and sustainable solutions for the health system as a whole. 

For more information about how WCH is transforming patient care and leading health system solutions, visit

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