Working with and for children and families, our researchers are studying how best to help them achieve optimal health and well-being, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 40 scientists and clinical researchers at the University of Calgary have launched an unprecedented initiative to prevent, reduce and treat preterm birth, funded by $5 million in community donations through the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and Calgary Health Foundation.
“Preterm birth means babies in our province are at higher risk of complications that contribute to impaired brain development, physical disability and neonatal death. For babies who survive, the effects of preterm birth can last a lifetime and change the entire course of their future.”
Dr. Donna Slater, PhD
Ending the Diagnostic Odyssey
Dr. François Bernier, MD, is leading a research team awarded $6.2 million from Genome Canada for Translational Implementation of Genomics for Rare Diseases (TIGeR). In collaboration with Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL), the team is developing and implementing a large-scale clinical genome-wide sequencing service to address rapid diagnosis, treatment and support for Alberta patients with rare genetic diseases. The program is aimed at wellness and disease prevention, early diagnosis, and targeted interventions.
Pushing the Boundaries of Brain and Mental Health
Neuroimmune cells overwhelmed by stress are key contributors underpinning neurodevelopmental disorders, according to new research from Drs. Deborah Kurrasch, PhD, and Jessica Rosin, PhD. Published in Developmental Cell, they found a relationship between prenatal stress and disruptions in brain development affecting males more than females. Boys have higher rates of some disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivitydisorders (ADHD).
“Microglia appear to be an underappreciated fetal brain sensor, responsible for recognizing adverse cues from the mum and deciding whether to act as a buffer against the prenatal stressor or to inform neighbouring brain cells to adapt.”
Dr. Deborah Kurrasch, PhD
Surviving and Thriving
Dr. Douglas Mahoney, PhD, is leading a team of UCalgary researchers on a pan-Canadian team working to boost the availability of immunotherapy for childhood cancers. These therapies use the child’s own immune cells, modified in a lab to give them ‘superhero’ qualities, and then infused back in to target the cancer.
From Vulnerable to Resilient
Photos: Courtesy of Mark Agius, Suzanne Tough and Nicole Racine
Covid-19 Impact Study of Alberta families
Dr. Suzanne Tough, PhD and colleagues Drs. Sheri Madigan, PhD and Nicole Racine, PhD from ACHRI’s Owerko Centre surveyed 1,300 families during the pandemic and learned they were experiencing a rise in anxiety and depression, with rates doubling in mothers. The families reported reduced incomes, isolation and relationship stress. The COVID-19 Impact Study is supported by the community through the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.
New App Helps Mums with Postpartum Depression
Drs. Linda Duffett-Leger, PhD, and Nicole Letourneau, PhD, developed an app to deliver an online version of the VID-KIDS parent training program to moms during the pandemic. The program meets one-on-one with struggling new moms to help with baby interactions. With in-home visits cancelled by the pandemic, the investigators pivoted to the new app and online delivery.
Our research is generously supported by community donations through the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.