Dr. Amy Kirkham is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Cardiovascular Health in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education at the University of Toronto. Her research uses advanced imaging and lifestyle interventions to understand, treat, and improve the health of women with or at risk for cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Together with departmental colleague Dr. Jenna Gillen, she co-leads the centre for Cardiometabolic, Oncology, Diet, and Exercise research for Women (CODE-W). Our goal is to understand, treat, and improve the cardiometabolic (i.e., cardiovascular + metabolic) health of women across the life span. Our vision is to identify knowledge gaps and produce new evidence specific to women that will improve clinical care and outcomes for women.

CODE-W is uniquely positioned in Canada to address key gaps in women’s health via several unique pillars:

Focus on Women

Dedicating research to the study of women is critical, because biological sex influences how every organ responds to treatment, and gender impacts one’s interaction with, access to, and uptake of, healthcare. Despite this recognition for over 20 years, there remains a lack of clinical research specific to women, including for cardiometabolic disease pathophysiology, and exercise and nutrition interventions. Many studies conducted within CODE-W focus exclusively on women in the unstudied areas of cardiovascular and muscle physiology, while others involve both sexes with a commitment to sex-segregated analyses and results to ensure that our research always moves the needle forward for women.

Multi-disciplinary approaches

Multidisciplinary approaches are necessary to address some of the most urgent contemporary health challenges. CODE-W leverages the complementary, but distinct expertise of Drs Kirkham and Gillen and their collaborators and trainees that blurs traditional academic boundaries between exercise physiology, nutrition, rehabilitation sciences, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and biomedical engineering. 

State-of-the-art Facilities

Canadian Foundation for Innovation funding has enabled recent renovations and extensive equipment purchases to enable comprehensive multi-system (cardiac, vascular, skeletal muscle, blood, adipose tissue) characterization and innovative non-pharmacological treatment of cardiometabolic dysfunction specific to women. CODE-W is located in the award winning Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport at 100 Devonshire Place in downtown Toronto. 

Quantitative Holism
CODE-W takes a quantitative holistic approach, which considers the person as a whole, while still utilizing quantitative methods to measure and analyze its components. This approach runs counter to the reductionist approach to medicine and research on chronic disease that focusses on individual biological systems and sees the person as a sum of their parts. Essentially we aim to study women holistically, considering the integration between biological systems, lifestyle behaviours, quality of life, mental health, and social determinants of health, but exclusively with quantitative research methods.

About Dr. Kirkham


University of Toronto – Assistant Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (2020 – present)

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – Affiliate Scientist, KITE Research Institute (2021 – present)

Education & Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship – Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta: Advanced Imaging for Cardiology and Oncology

Ph.D. – Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia: Exercise and Cardiac Oncology

M.Sc – Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia: Clinical Exercise Prescription and Physiology

B.Sc. with Honours – Kinesiology, York University

Athletic Therapy Certificate – Kinesiology, York University 


Amy lives with her partner, Dave, mini-me, Nova, dog and cat in Toronto. They spend as much time as possible outside, especially in the forest (except for the cat). Amy is a former elite runner, cyclist and pro triathlete, and now continues to cycle and lift weights often. 

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