Zainab Garba-Sani

2022/2023 Recent Returners

Zainab Garba-Sani, MSc, is an alumna of the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme and holds an M.Sc. in Health Policy from Imperial College London. Upon completing her B.Sc. in Clinical Sciences at the University of Bradford, she was introduced into the policy world through her elected role as Academic Affairs Officer in which she was responsible for representing and upholding students’ interests at a senior management level. Immediately prior to her fellowship, Zainab was Clinical Innovation Manager at NHS England, where she was responsible for a range of programmes that aim to transform healthcare through supporting the ideation, development, and adoption of innovation. In addition, she cochaired the NHS Muslim Network, acted as Partnerships Lead for TEDxNHS, and volunteered with the Muslim Scouts Fellowship.

Zainab completed her Harkness Fellowship at Stanford University and Lighthouse Silicon Valley (a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion think tank) under the mentorship of  Sara Singer, M.B.A., Ph.D., (Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine; Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business (by courtesy); Professor, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (by courtesy); Stanford Health Policy Associate) and Quency Phillips, (Executive Director, Lighthouse Silicon Valley). With specialist interests in AI and innovation; community engagement; diversity and inclusion; and health equity, the focus of her work was in exploring the question: “How does a person’s ethnicity influence their perception of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health and care?”

With the priority of tackling health inequities and the promise of digitisation spanning all parts of the U.K. and U.S. health systems, AI offers great potential to solve the complex challenges seen in both countries. Arguably, by increasing the diversity of those interacting with AI, health systems could help maximise its potential to advance (rather than worsen) health equity. Therefore, Zainab’s research sought to investigate the influences of race, ethnicity and intersectionality to understand the nuanced barriers and enablers of engaging with AI. In exploring this, Zainab connected with over 100 stakeholders across civil society, academia, healthcare, industry, and policy during her fellowship. The research project she started with, expanded with increased demand and support for the work. Therefore, Zainab will soon be returning to Stanford to continue her work. She will be focused on (1) surveying and convening communities of colour and various stakeholders to further understand perceptions and develop actionable solutions, (2) summarising the insights through a publicly available film and (3) sparking action through a wide-reaching dissemination campaign.

Her multimethod approach will continue to optimise multiple perspectives and data sources (both qualitative and quantitative) to produce a comprehensive, credible and impactful set of findings. While currently back in the UK, Zainab has been establishing new connections to help translate her findings and develop international collaborations for the benefit of the NHS and U.K. public.

Furthermore, Zainab is a passionate advocate for equity and justice. In July 2018, she was honoured with a U.K. Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award for her work with the international charity DKMS (We Delete Blood Cancer) in increasing the number of people of colour registered as potential blood stem cell donors. Zainab is also a trustee of the U.K.’s Sickle Cell Society, member of the Genomics England Diverse Data Advisory Board and chairs NHS England’s Sickle Cell Transformation Patient Advisory Group. While in the U.S., Zainab used the opportunity to engage with international sickle cell transformation efforts, learn about good practice in the U.S. to help inform the NHS’ sickle cell transformation work and establish new U.K.-U.S. collaborations in this space. Her fellowship has supported her to expand her work with charities, communities, health care professionals, industry, governments, and policymakers globally to improve care for sickle cell.

Examples of related work include:

  • Boehringer Ingelheim UK, The University of Plymouth, The AHSN Network. How to involve and engage patients in digital health tech innovation – An Evidence Based Guide. [Internet]. 2022. [Cited 5 Oct 2023] Available from:
  • Baines R, Stevens S, Garba-Sani Z, Chatterjee A, Austin D, Leigh S. Attitudes Toward Personal Health Data Sharing Among People Living With Sickle Cell Disorder, Exemplar for Study of Rare Disease Populations. J Patient Cent Res Rev. 2023 Apr 18;10(2):68-76. doi: 10.17294/2330-0698.2006. PMID: 37091117; PMCID: PMC10117534.
  • Ada Lovelace. Access denied? Socioeconomic inequalities in digital health services. [Internet]. 2023. [Cited 5 Oct 2023] Available from: