Vasiliki (Vaso) Rahimzadeh, PhD is an applied bioethics scholar with research interests at the intersection of precision medicine, data governance and public policy.

Institute Affiliations

  • Member, Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI)

Honors & Awards

  • Gordon A. Maclachlan Prize for best dissertation in the biological sciences, McGill University (June 2020)
  • Governor General's Gold Medal, McGill University (June 2020)
  • David McCutcheon Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship, McGill University Health Centre (09/2013-09/2014)
  • McGill Med Star Award, McGill University Faculty of Medicine (05/2019)
  • Best Poster Prize in Medicine and Public Health, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (05/2018)
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (05/2016-05/2019)
  • Friends of McGill Fellowship (declined), McGill University (05/2014-05/2015)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Trainee representative, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Standing Committee on Ethics (2017 - 2019)
  • Member, Canadian College of Family Physicians (2018 - Present)
  • Member, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (2013 - Present)
  • Member, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (2017 - 2019)

Professional Education

  • Phd, McGill University, Family Medicine and Primary Care Research (2019)
  • MSc, McGill University, Experimental Medicine (2014)
  • B.S., University of California Berkeley, Microbial Biology (2012)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Ethics and Informatics in the Age of COVID-19: Challenges and Recommendations for Public Health Organization and Public Policy. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA Subbian, V., Solomonides, A., Clarkson, M., Rahimzadeh, V. N., Petersen, C., Schreiber, R., DeMuro, P. R., Dua, P., Goodman, K. W., Kaplan, B., Koppel, R., Lehmann, C. U., Pan, E., Senathirajah, Y. 2020


    The COVID-19 pandemic response in the United States has exposed significant gaps in information systems and processes to enable timely clinical and public health decision-making. Specifically, the use of informatics to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, support COVID-19 care delivery, and accelerate knowledge discovery bring to the forefront issues of privacy, surveillance, limits of state powers, and interoperability between public health and clinical information systems. Using a consensus building process, we critically analyze informatics-related ethical issues in light of the pandemic across three themes: (1) public health reporting and data sharing, (2) contact tracing and tracking, and (3) clinical scoring tools for critical care. We provide context and rationale for ethical considerations and recommendations that are actionable during the pandemic, and conclude with recommendations calling for long-term, broader change (beyond the pandemic) for public health organization and policy reform.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jamia/ocaa188

    View details for PubMedID 32722749

  • Pros and cons of prosent as an alternative to traditional consent in medical research. Journal of medical ethics Rahimzadeh, V. N. 2020


    In their recent article, Porsdam Mann et al propose to share biomedical research data more widely, securely and efficiently using blockchain technologies.1 They present compelling arguments for how the blockchain presents both a technological innovation, and a deontologically grounded policy innovation to traditional research consent. Their proposal can be read in conversation with a rich body of evidence to suggest current consent processes are problematic on at least one of tripartite bases in biomedical research: that it be fully informed. This response attempts to further the author's discussion of social justice discourse in, and of their proposed prosent model to enhance engagement among under-represented and vulnerable populations in research, specifically. Motivating this response is the view that advancing technological capabilities is no doubt necessary, but on its own insufficient to reinvigorate distributive, procedural and social justice as guiding principles for con/prosent processes. I offer three pros and cons to consider in effort to deepen the model's commitments to social justice to historically marginalised groups in the biomedical research enterprise.

    View details for DOI 10.1136/medethics-2020-106443

    View details for PubMedID 32571849

  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) of Responsible Data Sharing Involving Children in Genomics: A Systematic Literature Review of Reasons. AJOB empirical bioethics Rahimzadeh, V. n., Knoppers, B. M., Bartlett, G. n. 2020: 1–13


    Progress in precision medicine relies on the access to, use of, and exchange of genomic and associated clinical data, including from children. The ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) of such data access, use, and exchange may be accentuated in the pediatric context due in part to the highly sensitive nature of genomic data, children's consent-related vulnerabilities, and uncertain risks of reidentification. Systematic analyses of the ELSI and scientific reasons for why and how genomic data may be shared responsibly are, however, limited. Methods: We conducted a modified systematic review of reasons according to Sofaer and Strech to examine the ELSI and scientific reasons for "responsible" sharing of children's genomic and associated clinical data. Empirical articles, commentaries, and data-sharing policies indexed in Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, and BIOSIS were included in the analysis if they discussed ELSI and were published between 2003 and 2017 in English. Results: One hundred and fifty-one records met our inclusion criteria. We identified 11 unique reasons and 8 subreasons for why children's genomic data should or should not be shared. Enhancing the prospect of direct and indirect benefits and maximizing the utility of children's data were top reasons why data should be shared. Inadequate data privacy protection was the leading reason why it should not. We furthermore identified 8 reasons and 30 subreasons that support conditional data sharing, in which recontact for the continued use of children's data once they reach the age of majority was the most frequently endorsed condition. Conclusions: The complete list of ELSI reasons and responsible conditions provides an evidentiary basis upon which institutions can develop data-sharing policies. Institutions should encourage the sharing of children's data to advance genomic research, while heeding special reconsent and data protection mechanisms that may help mitigate uncertain longitudinal risks for children and families.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/23294515.2020.1818875

    View details for PubMedID 32975491

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