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St. Michael’s scientist wins prestigious Polanyi Prize

Toronto, November 16, 2017

Dr. Areti Angeliki Veroniki
Dr. Areti Angeliki Veroniki (Photo courtesy of the Council of Ontario Universities)

Dr. Areti Angeliki Veroniki is a studier of studies.

A scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Veroniki’s post-doctoral research at the University of Toronto is focused on pulling new insights from the hundreds of medical studies done on a particular illness – right down to the level of individual patients.

Working under the supervision of Dr. Sharon Straus, director of the hospital’s Knowledge Translation program, Dr. Veroniki is performing what’s known as an individual patient data network meta-analysis on studies pertaining to Type 1 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Put simply, it’s a statistical analysis of the many studies done on a number of clinical treatments related to a specific illness that, unlike more straightforward network meta-analyses, still takes into account individual data from all the studies’ patient participants.

“We’re able to explore potential treatment-by-covariate interactions, which are interactions that may happen between the characteristics of the patients and the treatment effect that we’re not always able to see with aggregated data,” said Dr. Veroniki, who did her PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Ioannina in Greece.

“We’re able to tailor the results for certain characteristics of patients that, previously, published studies didn’t address. We can then use the data that has been previously collected to explore further treatment effects – usually with greater power.”

Dr. Veroniki is one of two University of Toronto researchers who were honoured Nov. 15 with this year’s Polanyi Prize. The $20,000 prizes, in honour of Professor John Charles Polanyi, who received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, are given to up to five outstanding researchers in the early stages of their careers who are either pursuing post-doctoral studies or have recently been appointed faculty at an Ontario university.

“Dr. Veroniki represents the future of health care research and receiving the Polanyi Prize reflects her impact to date and potential as a junior STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) researcher,” said Dr. Straus.

The other University of Toronto winner was Ismael Mourifié, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science whose current research is focused on understanding why there aren't more women like Dr. Veroniki studying STEM subjects and working in related professions.

By Chris Sorensen, courtesy of the University of Toronto

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.