MEET DR. SARA GUILCHER
Dr. Sara Guilcher (BSc, MSc, MScPT, PhD) is the Principal Investigator and Scientific Director of the Optimizing Healthcare Experiences (OPTI-HEx) Laboratory. Sara is an Associate Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto and holds graduate appointments at the Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. Sara also has scientific appointments at ICES (ICES@UofT), the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, West Park Healthcare Centre, and St. John’s Rehabilitation at the Sunnybrook Research Institute. Sara currently holds a salary award as a Pain Scientist at the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain. Sara has clinical training in physical therapy and clinical health psychology, along with applied health services research expertise.
Sara’s mixed-methods research program aims to support people live their best life possible; specifically related to self-management support and self-management health behaviours, rehabilitation, aging, and quality of life. Guided by the Knowledge to Action Framework, and the World Health Organization’s Social Determinants of Health Framework, Sara’s research program has two main interconnected activities: 1) characterizing needs and necessary mechanisms for optimal self-management support and behaviour, service delivery, healthcare experiences, and outcomes; and then 2) developing, implementing, and evaluating solution-focused interventions. Sara has led or actively collaborated on many interdisciplinary grants ($>14 million grant funding; approximately >$6 million funding as PI/co-PI)). Most of the team’s grant funding comes from competitive tri-council agencies (CIHR, SSHRC), and international organizations (e.g., Craig H Neilsen Foundation). Sara has mentored many trainees and students (>50 trainees to date in various stages of their careers from undergraduate to post-doctoral).
Sara and her team partner and engage with key stakeholders to co-create research leaning on integrated knowledge translation, learning health systems and implementation science. Sara was a former Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Embedded Clinician Scientist Salary Award (2016-2020) working with Ontario Health (Quality; formerly Health Quality Ontario) on improving care transitions for populations with complex health and social needs. Within this embedded role as a CIHR Embedded Scientist with Ontario Health (Quality), Sara and her team work with key stakeholders (e.g., patients/families, clinicians, and decision-makers) using integrated knowledge translation approaches to understand how we can support people to live their best life possible at the individual, community, and system levels.