BBDC Member Profile
Calvin Ke, MD, PhD
September 9, 2022
By Krista Lamb
An interest in global health sparked the career path for Dr. Calvin Ke, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a clinician-scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute.
A second-generation Chinese Canadian, Ke knew from the time he was doing his undergraduate studies that he was interested in pursuing medicine through a global lens. “There was a lot of focus then on infectious diseases, like the HIV epidemic, and the idea of reducing inequities and improving health outcomes in diverse populations really spoke to me.”
Ke decided to focus on internal medicine where he could look not only at infectious diseases, but also at cardiovascular disease, endocrinology and diabetes. During his residency, he became especially interested in diabetes, which has become a global epidemic. Now, as a clinician-scientist, he has focused his research on young-onset type 2 diabetes (those diagnosed before age 40) and type 2 diabetes in Chinese and South Asian populations.
Having studied in both Canada and Hong Kong, Ke sees the importance of looking at diabetes through an epidemiological lens, including looking at differences in type 2 diabetes onset, rates and experiences in Chinese populations from mainland China, Hong Kong and Canada. He did a portion of his doctoral studies with Dr. Juliana Chan, who is the Director of the Hong Kong Institute of Diabetes and Obesity and a Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Chan is a global leader in the study of diabetes in Asian populations, and Ke’s time working with her lab helped shape the research of his own lab at U of T.
“Having done training in Hong Kong, from where my parents immigrated to Canada, has really provided me with an interesting perspective. I strive to maintain international collaborations and conduct research that’s relevant to improving the health of people both in Canada and worldwide as well,” he says.
One key area of Ke’s ongoing work will be through projects with the new University of Toronto Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Populations. There, Ke is a co-lead on the Health Services and Quality of Care Working Group, alongside Dr. Baiju Shah. “The Novo Nordisk Network is a fantastic opportunity for us to put into place solid initiatives to move the needle on some of the issues we’ve known about for a long time in the areas of diabetes prevention and care,” he says. “There’s so much observational research that has identified gaps in care, whether that be related to socio-economic determinants of health or degree of coverage for various medications or programs for diabetes prevention. This opportunity gives us a chance to step back and think beyond characterizing the gaps and to begin implementing interventions to develop better models of care.”
In his program, Ke will be looking at health services and working to establish a framework through which future interventions can be evaluated and implemented. He is excited to work with a group of experts and stakeholders who all bring their unique experiences to the table, breaking down silos and working collaboratively to enact real change.