Shehzad Ali, MBBS, MPH, MSC, PhD

Shehzad_Ali_160x180.jpgAssociate Professor & Associate Chair (Research)

P: 519.661.2111 X80573
F: 519.661.3766


Dr. Shehzad Ali holds a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Economics, and serves as the Associate Chair (Research) at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is also a Visiting Associate Professor of Health Economics and Health Services Research at University of York (UK), and Honorary Fellow at Macquarie University (Australia), and Affiliate/Adjunct Scientist at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) and Bruyère Research Institute. Dr. Ali leads the Economics and Equity sub-group of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Knowledge Translation and HTA in Health Equity. He holds a PhD in Health Economics (University of York), MSc in Medical Statistics (University of Leicester), Masters in Public Health (University of Leeds) and Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery (Dow University of Health Sciences).

With a career research income of >$25M, as principal or co-investigator, Dr Ali has held grants from major funding bodies in Canada (CIHR), US (NIH), the UK (NIHR) and Australia (NHMRC). He has authored >100 papers in peer-reviewed journals. These studies are published in leading journals in the fields of Health Services Research, Health Economics, Public Health and Medicine, including the Lancet, JAMA Psychiatry, JAMA Open, Health Economics, Medical Decision Making and Social Science and Medicine. In 2022/3, Dr. Ali’s research was recognized by CIHR with the prestigious Robyn Tamblyn Health Services and Policy Research Innovator Award. He is an Associate Editor of the British Journal of Psychiatry, and Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.

Dr Shehzad Ali is a scholar of one of the most pressing public policy challenges of our time: how to efficiently and fairly allocate the limited health system resources to improve population health. He studies this at the intersection of economics, equity and health services research. His novel work is paving the way to incorporate equity into the economic evaluation framework. His current CIHR-funded study (2023-2027), in collaboration with key Canadian decision-makers, including the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), aims to re-engineer health policy decision-making for equitable allocation of resources – this presents a fundamental shift from the traditional approach to economic evaluation.

Dr. Ali’s conducts research in five key areas: (1) Developing health services performance indicators in terms of efficiency and equity of access, utilization and patient outcomes using patient-level linked administrative data (“big data”) and population surveys; (2) Integrating equity into economic evaluations using distributional cost-effectiveness framework; (3) Health technology assessment in developed and developing countries; (4) Using randomized controlled trials and observational studies to evaluate small and large-scale interventions/policies delivered at patient, provider or population-level; and (5) Developing treatment-related algorithms to predict patient outcomes in clinical practice.

Dr. Ali’s equity agenda has also resonated with policy-makers during the pandemic. In 2022, he was invited by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (44th Parliament) to provide evidence on Vaccine Equity and Intellectual Property Rights. This formed the basis for the Committee’s recommendations on “Overcoming the barriers to global vaccine equity and ending the pandemic”. He has been a vocal critic of the equity-agnostic approaches used during the pandemic and has underscored this on several platforms.

Dr Ali’s work is driven by a strong sense of policy relevance which he establishes through scholar-practitioner partnership. He played a key role in the development of outcomes-driven, algorithm-based, treatment strategies which are now used by one of the largest evidence-based mental health services in the world – the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, IAPT in England, with >12,000 psychotherapists and >1.5 million patients per year. These interventions, published in the Lancet and JAMA Psychiatry, have identified complex and treatment-resistant cases to offer individualized treatments for mental health. With funding from NIHR, he is now leading the economic evaluation of stratified care model. Dr. Ali has also co-led/contributed to >20 randomized clinical trials to evaluate several low-cost mental health care in the UK, US and Australia, to reduce barriers to equitable care.

Another area of Dr. Ali’s work is the development of the Health Services Equity Indicators. Initially developed with colleagues in England and adopted by the NHS, he is now extending these indicators to Ontario through a CIHR grant he is leading. In partnership with provincial decision-makers, Dr Ali is developing performance indicators to pinpoint inequities at the level of Public Health Units and Ontario Health Teams, to monitor and reduce equity gaps in health service utilization.

Dr. Ali has held a number of leadership positions, including Health Economics Lead at CADTH and Lead Health Economist in the Mental Health Research Group at University of York, UK. He was also the Dean of Derwent College at University of York until 2012. Dr. Ali has provided leadership on a number of projects funded by the Department for International Development (DfID, UK), German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), UNICEF and Save the Children. His collaborative project in Burundi was awarded ‘UNICEF Best of 2022’.

Dr. Ali has designed and delivered research-led teaching as part of the Master of Public Health, MSc in Applied Health Research, MSc in Health Economics and BA and MA in Social Policy programs in Canada, the UK, Germany and Pakistan. Specific courses include public health policy, health economics, decision modelling, health care financing, health care organization, statistics and global health. He also contributes educational papers for a global audience. Notably, his paper on ‘Health Outcomes in Economic Evaluation’ appears on most health economics reading lists on graduate programs, and is one of the most cited papers on the subject, with >1,000 citations.


Research Cluster Membership

Research Interests

  • Monitoring equity and efficiency of health systems using administrative data
  • Health policy analysis using observational data
  • Economic evaluation for health technology assessment
  • Developing predictive algorithms for patient outcomes
  • Elicitation of value judgments and treatment preferences to inform resource allocation