Chance encounter on a train led to an award-winning career in research

Dr. Kristin Danko is receiving the Worton Researcher in Training Award in recognition of her outstanding research achievements and potential as a scientist.

October 22, 2018

Dr. Kristen DankoDr. Danko's job on the Rocky Mountaineer train ultimately led her to working with Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw at The Ottawa Hospital’s Centre for Implementation Research.A job on the Rocky Mountaineer train took Dr. Kristin Danko to places that weren’t on the route between Vancouver and Calgary. One stop was a research lab at The Ottawa Hospital.

In the summer of 2006, after finishing her Bachelor of Science at McGill University and before starting her Master of Rehabilitation Sciences at University of British Columbia, Dr. Danko was working on the famous train travelling through the Rocky Mountains. There, she met a couple and had lively conversations with them about population health. She later learned that the gentleman was Dr. John Last, professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa, who had compiled the Dictionary of Epidemiology. Dr. Danko contacted him when she moved to Ottawa with her husband in 2008.

“He immediately remembered me and asked for my CV,” said Dr. Danko. Dr. Last circulated her résumé through his network of colleagues, which led to a job working with Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw of The Ottawa Hospital’s Clinical Epidemiology Program. “It was a serendipitous meeting on the train, and it completely changed my life,” she said.

Dr. Danko started as a research coordinator covering a maternity leave in Dr. Grimshaw’s lab. It turned into a permanent position. Her research involved systematically reviewing clinical treatments, procedures and health policies associated with improved health outcomes and better value for money for the health system.

“Part of why I like doing systematic reviews is that I get to learn so much about different medical treatments,” she said. She also finds it rewarding to look at interventions that optimize care for patients. “We’re getting evidence into practice and sending the best information to the people who make decisions for patients or affect health policy. This is shifting the way health care is organized and delivered.”

In the ten years since Dr. Danko joined Dr. Grimshaw’s research team, she has completed a Bachelor of Education and a PhD, as well as had three children. Since 2006, she has authored 11 publications, 11 scientific reports and one book.

Her doctoral studies represent a major contribution to the way scientists conduct systematic reviews of complex health interventions. She also demonstrated a high success rate in obtaining competitive research funding. Since entering her doctoral program, she has applied for and received three awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Danko is receiving the 2018 Worton Researcher in Training Award from The Ottawa Hospital in recognition of her outstanding achievements and her potential as a scientist.

“Given her motivation and her natural talent for research and picking up complex methodological issues, I am convinced that Kristin is destined to become an internationally-recognized scientist, committed to improving methods to better support health-care decisions,” said Dr. Grimshaw, who now leads The Ottawa Hospital’s Centre for Implementation Research and is also a professor at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Danko is currently pursuing postdoctoral studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Ottawa Hospital: Inspired by research. Driven by compassion 

The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care. See for more information about research at The Ottawa Hospital.

University of Ottawa: —A crossroads of cultures and ideas

The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe.

Media Contact

Jennifer Ganton
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Office: 613-798-5555 x 73325
Cell: 613-614-5253