Apr 19, 2018
Dr. Nancy F. Olivieri
Improving the Prognosis for Childhood Leukemia and Thalassemia in Asia - a 2020 goal for Hemoglobal

Nancy F. Olivieri, MD, MA, FRCP(C)

Dr. Olivieri is currently a Senior Scientist, The Research Institute, Toronto General Hospital; and Professor, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada.  A graduate of the University of Toronto (BSc,1975) and McMaster University (MD 1978)  Dr. Olivieri subsequently pursued post-graduate clinical training at McMaster, University of Toronto, and Harvard University.  In 1987, Dr. Olivieri returned to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children to direct the Programs for Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassaemia.  In 1996, Dr. Olivieri, author of over 200 scientific publications, was elected to The American Society for Clinical Investigation

For nearly 20 years beginning in 1996, in a public controversy involving the protection of patients in clinical trials, academic freedom and scientific integrity, Dr. Olivieri was the target of powerful opposition.  Ultimately, The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada ruled her advocacy for vulnerable patients “commendable”, and exonerated her of false charges publicly circulated by powerful enemies.  For her stand, Dr. Olivieri was publicly honoured, including by The Shadeek Nader Foundation, Washington DC (with The Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage); The Civil Justice Foundation, American Trial Lawyers’ Association (The Community Champion Award); Drug Safety Canada (The Vanessa Young Award); and several honorary degrees.  In 2009, the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented Dr. Olivieri the Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, observing that “Nancy Olivieri is honoured for her indefatigable determination that patient safety and research integrity come before institutional and commercial interests and for her courage in defending these principles in the face of severe consequences.”

In 2003, Dr. Olivieri completed a master’s degree in Medical Ethics and Law at King’s College, London UK.  She subsequently created and continues to teach, at the University of Toronto, an undergraduate course Health and Pharmaceuticals, to help students understand the ongoing influences of the pharmaceutical industry in research, medicine and health.

In 2004, Dr. Olivieri founded and remains Executive Director of Hemoglobal® a charity she established to improve care for children affected with blood diseases throughout Asia.  Supported by funds from international granting agencies, Dr. Olivieri has continued to conduct research in both Sri Lanka and India. After helping to establish The National Thalassemia Centre in Sri Lanka in 2001, she continued work in that country and since 2009, has worked in Kolkata (Calcutta), India to improve treatment for childhood thalassemia and leukemia, focusing on the issue of treatment abandonment and refusal.