Dr. Rosemary Martino holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Swallowing Disorders. She is an expert in the area of swallowing disorders (dysphagia) and clinical epidemiology. Her Swallowing Lab research team includes several Research Coordinators, research Speech Language Pathologists, and graduate/post-graduate research students.

The focus of Dr. Martino’s research is dysphagia, more specifically oropharyngeal dysphagia, secondary to neurological, cancer and cardiovascular etiologies. Dr. Martino’s research aims to discover high-level evidence to determine whether swallowing interventions are beneficial in reducing or eliminating unnecessary consequences such as pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, anxiety, depression, poor quality life and even death.

  • Toronto Bedside Swallowing Screening Test

    Dr. Martino's research focuses on understanding swallowing impairment and its impact on the patient. She has developed a tool called the Toronto Bedside Swallowing Screening Test (TOR-BSST(c)), by which stroke patients can be screened for the presence of swallowing difficulties within 24 hours of acute hospital admission. The premise of the TOR-BSST(c) is that earlier identification will initiate earlier intervention, and thereby reduce the incidence of medical complications such as pneumonia, malnutrition and even death while at the same time promoting earlier overall recovery. Through funding from the Canadian Stroke Network (CSN), as well as a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award (in Knowledge Translation), Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and the University of Toronto Dean's Fund, Dr. Martino has developed and validated the TOR-BSST(c) for use among stroke patients, and studied its implementation at 14 community hospitals and 2 long-term care facilities. More recently, she completed enrolment for a multi-year study validating the TOR-BSST(c) among critically ill patients who have been intubated for 48 hours or longer, with funding from a CIHR operating grant awarded in 2011. 

  • Medical Outcomes of Dysphagia (MOD)

    In addition, Dr. Martino has developed another tool targeting the medical outcomes of dysphagia (MOD). The MOD measures complications caused by swallowing problems -- namely pulmonary, nutrition and psychological impairments. The MOD is the first available to measure these complications in a standard and clinically feasible manner. This tool will benefit all patients with swallowing problems including those with stroke, Parkinson's disease, cervical spine abnormalities, and head and neck cancer. The MOD will be important to clinicians because it will be the first to allow them to evaluate and compare patient benefit from swallowing treatments. In 2005, Dr. Martino was awarded a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aging to further the development of the MOD tool. In 2009, she was also awarded operating grants from CIHR and the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI) to carry out psychometric testing of the MOD in adult patients who have swallowing disorders secondary to stroke, cervical spine abnormalities, and head and neck cancer. Enrollment of the targeted 250 patients for this study is near complete.


    Dr. Martino’s most recent research focus is the PRO-ACTIVE study, which will compare the effectiveness of providing prophylactic versus therapeutic treatment of swallowing disorders among patients with head and neck cancer who are receiving radiation. Namely, this research will compare how well each treatment approach works to reduce use of a feeding tube at the one-year mark following the end of radiation therapy.

    More details about this research may be found here.

For a list of Dr. Martino's publications, please visit PubMed, Scopus, Publons or ORCID.

Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Swallowing Disorders
Professor (Primary Appointment), Department of Speech Language Pathology, University of Toronto
Director, Swallowing Lab, University Health Network / University of Toronto
Professor (Cross-Appointment), Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto
Professor (Cross-Appointment), Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, University of Toronto