Onil Bhattacharyya

Onil BhattachryyaAssociate Professor,
Family & Community Medicine

If left unsolved, the problems of childhood malnutrition and obesity could lead to the next generation being sicker than the current one — reversing a century of constant progress in human health. This is what motivates Onil Bhattacharyya to be part of the Lawson Centre and its mission to find meaningful solutions to childhood health and nutrition.

Bhattacharyya is a family physician and the Frigon-Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research at Women’s College Hospital. “I help design health services for people with complex needs based on their preferences and life goals. While services for the highest users of the system may not seem relevant for the general population, the methods draw deeply on the user experience and provide insights into what motivates people, helping them lead a life that they value,” explains Bhattacharyya.

Bhattacharyya conducts research in both high- and low-income settings in Canada and abroad. “Our insights on education, the environment and changing the behaviour of families could be applied to different regions of the world to prevent the rise of childhood obesity that we are seeing in adults in low- and middle-income countries.”

The associate professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine is excited about the opportunity to be part of the Lawson Centre, which brings together diverse perspectives and areas of expertise. Bhattacharyya hopes that the emerging connections will lead to new insights in child health.

“We often bring a narrow biomedical lens that proposes technical solutions to problems that are driven by culture, public policy, economics, marketing, and the psychology of individuals and groups,” he says. “A team of colleagues with these skills can ‘stress-test’ my ideas and lead me to less obvious and more innovative solutions.”

In his work, Bhattacharyya is driven by the opportunity to delve into complex problems that he is passionate about and develop solutions that matter for people and for systems.

“The steps of discovery, ideation, and rapid testing to land on something that works is thrilling, particularly when it is relevant to the problems of people I see in my practice and engages students and junior researchers. Presenting problems and potential solutions to policymakers makes this work feel like it is not only an intellectual exercise or a way to help people in one instance, but rather a way to improve systems and the health of populations.”

Finally, Bhattacharyya recommends families try creating an environment that makes it easy to make healthy choices and build habits for the long term.

“Think about where you live, how you get around, and what goes in your cupboard, because that — more than willpower — determines what goes in your mouth and stays on your waist. Make a balanced life, driven by your own values, a priority and model this life for your children.”

At a glance:

Onil Bhattacharyya, MD, PhD

Research Interests

  • Knowledge translation
  • Primary care
  • Performance measurement
  • Health services delivery in diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Aboriginal health
  • Global health


  • Associate Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto
  • Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation, University of Toronto
  • Senior Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute
  • Frigon-Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research, Women’s College Hospital
  • Co-Principal Implementer, Building Bridges to Integrate Care (BRIDGES), University of Toronto


See Onil’s profile on Women’s College Research Institute website for more information.

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