Programs

Researchers at Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute are working across the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services and into the community to generate new knowledge in child health, and translate these discoveries into life-saving treatments, practices and policies for a healthier future for children and families.

ACHRI research spans a diverse spectrum of discovery from biomedical, clinical, health services and population health to policy and community health. Child health & wellness researchers' diverse interests and expertise focus on seven research programs: 

The goal of the Care Transformation Program is to generate new knowledge and translate evidence into action within our health system to improve outcomes for children and families. To achieve this goal, the program will build and empower multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral collaborations within hospital, clinic and community health program settings. Our members contribute to the growth of an evolving health care system that engages patients, families and health care practitioners; one in which the creation of knowledge is embedded in care and connected to advancing evidence-based improvements in health care delivery and health policy. 

Program Director: Dr. Graham Thompson, MD

The Child Brain & Mental Health Program’s goal is to generate new knowledge and translate it into improved physical and mental health outcomes for children and youth. Our members study brain development, neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders, brain injury, cognition, behaviour, and mental health. We are an interdisciplinary group with research spanning the full range of translation from bench to backyard, including cutting-edge molecular, genetic, neuroimaging, assessment and intervention techniques, in both model organisms and humans.

Program Director: Dr. Catherine Lebel, PhD

The overall goal of the Child Health Data Science Program is to support the development and implementation of cutting-edge data science methods, including advanced big data machine learning and statistical methods, and to foster high-end computational resources to enable precision medicine for children. The program aims to collect, analyze, and integrate data from multiple sources to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric diseases in direct collaboration with clinicians. It will also enable innovative research to address gaps in knowledge related to pediatric diseases.

Program Director: Dr. Nils Forkert, PhD

The Childhood Cancer & Blood Disorders Program is a collaborative initiative of ACHRI and the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute. Its overarching goals are to advance understanding of the biology and sequelae of childhood cancers and blood disorders and to use existing and new knowledge to improve their diagnosis and treatment. Our members include a highly integrated and interdisciplinary team of clinical investigators and scientists all contributing to one or more of the following research areas: understanding the cellular and molecular basis for childhood cancer initiation and progression; and innovating and testing new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of childhood cancer and blood disorders.

Program Director: Dr. Jennifer Chan, MD

Healthy children and families are the foundation of a healthy society. The goal of the Healthy Children, Families & Communities Program is to bring together and support scientists and community partners engaged in research to improve the health and well-being of Canadian children, youth and families. Canada currently ranks 25th out of 41 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for children’s well-being. Major threats to Canada’s children include: intentional (eg. child abuse, suicide) and unintentional injuries, mental health, poverty, infant mortality, obesity, inactivity, food insecurity, vaccine preventable illnesses, discrimination and bullying. Policies to address these threats, and prevention strategies focused on the social determinants of health will drive program research activities. This work holds the greatest promise to improve child and family health and well-being in Canada and beyond.

Program Director: Dr. Brent Hagel, PhD

The overarching goal of the Maternal & Child Health Program is to generate new knowledge and translate findings into improved mental and physical outcomes for mothers and their children at all stages of development. Our members conduct interdisciplinary research that spans fundamental research into fetal and placental development; understanding how events during pregnancy impact women and children’s health in the short- and long-term; and how the health care system and communities can be strengthened to promote improved health and well-being of mothers and children in Canada and abroad.

Program Director: Dr. Amy Metcalfe, PhD

The Precision Medicine & Disease Mechanisms Program applies advanced genetic, epigenetic, genomic and other high-throughput technologies to decipher the molecular and cellular basis of normal development and childhood genetic disorders. Building on the diverse expertise of its members, the overarching goal is to build a centre of excellence to apply precision medicine to genetic diseases of childhood. This is achieved through cutting edge research using model organisms, advanced cell culture methods, high-level imaging and bioinformatics. This program has several intercalated initiatives such as "Model Organism Research for Pediatric Health (MORPH)" that use fundamental basic research to advance progress across the childhood disease spectrum by rapid translation of laboratory findings into clinical care.

Program Director: Dr. Myriam Hemberger, PhD