Name: Salima Meherali
Field: Nursing, Knowledge Translation, Knowledge Synthesis
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB 

My Story: I just finished my doctoral studies, co-supervised by Drs. Joanne Profetto-McGrath and Pauline Paul. My research areas of interest are knowledge translation and implementation science. I am interested in exploring how unique methods, such as art and storytelling, can be used to communicate high-quality evidence to patients and families in pediatric healthcare settings. Targeting patients and families, and using engaging modalities, has the potential to increase their involvement in healthcare decision making and ultimately improve health outcomes for Canadian children.

Advice to Budding Researchers: Seek advice from multiple sources and then decide what makes sense for you.


Name: Jillian Avis
Age: 24
Field: Pediatric Obesity
Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Pediatric Centre for Weight and Health (Stollery Children’s Hospital), Edmonton, AB As a graduate student in the Department of Pediatrics (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry), my research focuses on working with parents and clinicians in primary care to prevent and manage childhood obesity. 

My Story: It was after a summer research assistantship in an Edmonton pediatric weight management clinic that I realized I had a passion for clinical research and health services. It is very rewarding to interact with families on a daily basis and see that your research can have a positive impact on their lives. To date, many pediatric weight management programs have demonstrated modest effects, and there is need to invest resources into novel, evidence-based approaches. As the field continues to evolve, research projects are increasingly incorporating innovative, online tools. For my graduate research, I am developing a brief, online intervention for parents of children receiving health services in the primary care setting. This formative research aims to both prevent and manage childhood obesity by increasing parent awareness of children’s lifestyle behaviors and weight status, and motivating parents to utilize local community resources that can help children adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors. As research in pediatric obesity continues to advance, new-age technologies and online approaches are being utilized. I believe the future holds more upstream work using such approaches to promote healthy habits in kids and families beforeobesity develops. 

Advice to Budding Researchers: Be persistent, be passionate, and be positive 

What is one thing you learned from a mentor that you will never forget? According to my supervisor, Dr. Geoff Ball, an excellent graduate student in any field must master two areas: thinking and doing. Moving from my Master’s program into a PhD in early 2014, I plan to continue honing my thinking and doing skills as a child health researcher.

Publications:

  • Avis J, Ambler K, Jetha M, Opoku H, Ball GDC. (in press). Modest Treatment Effects and High Program Attrition: The Impact of Interdisciplinary, Individualized Care for Managing Pediatric Obesity. Paediatrics & Child Health.
  • Grava T, Fairhurst G, Avey M, Grava A, Bradley J, Avis J, Borlotti G, Sturdy C, Otter K (2013). Habitated Quality Affects Early Physiology and Subsequent Neuromotor Development of Juvenile Black-capped Chickadees. PLoS ONE8 (8), 1-10. 
  • Avis J. (2012). The Social and Psychological Aspects Behind Flight. Invoke 1 (1), 1-13. 

Funder(s):

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research 
  • Nutrition and Dietetic Research Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions 
  • Women and Children's Health Research Institute 

Name: Kristin Kernohan
Age: 24
Field: Biochemistry
Affiliations: University of Western Ontario/Victoria Hospital/Children's Health Research Institute (CHRI) 
Advice to Budding Researchers: Never give up, eventually everything works out.

My Story: My work is largely in understanding the role of the two proteins, ATRX and MeCP2, in the regulation of gene expression in the brain. In humans, mutations in the genes that encode these proteins lead to mental retardation disorders (ATR-X and Rett syndromes). My work has provided the first evidence for the cooperation of these proteins in the brain, and that common molecular pathways are affected in ATR-X and Rett syndromes. I have continued my work in investigating the function of the ATRX-MeCP2 complex, developing cutting edge novel techniques to analyze its role in regulating gene expression.  

I have always been interested in developmental disorders, and in university became interested in genetics and gene regulation, so this was a great mix of those two interests. It's exciting to know that what you are doing can lead to an increased understanding for parents of their child's condition, and may one day help in the development of treatments. 
Outside of the lab, I am involved in working with children and adults with developmental disabilities, coaching recreational and competitive Special Olympics swimming. 

Publications:

  • Kernohan, KD and Bérubé, NG, Genetic and epigenetic dysregulation of imprinted genes in the brain. Published Invited Review, Epigenomics (2010), Volume 2(6), 743–763.
  • Fazio, EN, DiMattia, GE, Chadi, SA, Kernohan, KD, Pin, CL, Constitutive Stanniocalcin 2 expression alters PERK signalling and reduces cellular injury during cerulean induced pancreatitis in mice.  BMC Cell Biol. (2011), Volume 12(1):17. 
  • Kernohan, KD, Jiang, Y, Tremblay, DC, Bonvissuto, A, Eubanks, JH, Mann, MRW, Bérubé, NG, ATRX partners with cohesin and MeCP2 and contributes to developmental silencing of imprinted genes in the brain. Developmental Cell(2010), Volume 18, Issue 2, p 191-202.

Name: Audrée Jeanne Beaudoin
Age: 24
Field: Autism spectrum disorder
Affiliations: Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Qc / Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel
(Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke), Sherbrooke, QC

My Story: Past: My four years of training in Occupational Therapy have had an important influence on my future career. First, during my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to participate in three clinical internships with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, which led me to acquire strong interest, knowledge, and experience with these children. Second, during those years, I also completed two summer research trainings at the Research Center on Aging, during which I met many people who shared their passion for health research with me and encouraged me to pursue graduate studies. 

Present: Integrating my two passions for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and clinical research, my doctoral project assesses the effect of a 12-week parent-child education program for young children with a suspicion of autism spectrum disorder. During this intervention, parents are taught how to interact and communicate with their toddlers in order to foster their children’s development during their daily interactions. Based on the results, a similar program may be implemented for children at risk of autism spectrum disorder waiting for a diagnostic evaluation to optimize children’s development and support their families during this stressful period.

Future: As a PhD student and an occupational therapist, I would like to contribute to the development of evidence-based healthcare practices in the field of autism and convey this knowledge to the next generation of occupational therapists.

Advice to Budding Researchers: Do what you are passionate about.

What is one thing you learned from a mentor that you will never forget? My advisor (Pre Mélanie Couture) acknowledges the importance of working hard to succeed in a research and academic career. However, she also emphasizes the importance of taking time for our loved ones and ourselves: this is what will give us the strength to be our best.

Publications:

  • Beaudoin, A.J., Sébire, G., Couture, M. (submitted). Parent-training interventions for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Autism Research and Treatment.
  • Beaudoin, A.J., Sébire, G., Couture, M. (2013). Programmes d’accompagnement parental pour les jeunes enfants avec une suspicion de trouble du spectre autistique. Le CNRIS en action. 10(7):13-15. 
  • Beaudoin, A.J., Fournier, B., Julien-Caron, L., Moleski, L., Simard, J., Mercier, L., Desrosiers, J. (2013) Visuoperceptual deficits and participation in older adults after stroke. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal. 60(4):260-266. 
  • Tousignant, M., Corriveau, H., Roy, P.M., Desrosiers, J., Dubuc, N., Hébert, R., Tremblay-Boudreault, V., Beaudoin, A.J. (2012). The effect of supervised Tai Chi intervention compared to a physiotherapy program on fall-related clinical outcomes: A randomised clinical trial". Disability and Rehabilitation. 34(3):196-201. 

Funder(s):

  • Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program / Consortium national de recherche sur l’intégration sociale / Fondation Of Stars, Université de Sherbrooke Center of Excellence for Mother and Child Research / Mother-Child Research Axis (Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel)

Name: Tram Nguyen
Field: Rehabilitation Science/Pediatrics
Affiliations: School of Rehabilitation Science, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

My Story: I am currently a PhD candidate and CIHR doctoral fellow in the School of Rehabilitation Science and the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research at McMaster University, Ontario, working under the supervision of Dr. Jan Willem Gorter. My research interest is focused on assisting youth with disabilities transition from pediatric to adult-oriented health care and integrated knowledge translation. My research approach is patient-oriented as youth and families are actively involved in developing both the research questions and corresponding methods. I’m passionate about knowledge translation to 1) ensure patients benefit optimally from advances in health care, and 2) facilitate the uptake of research evidence to improve the ability of Canadian youths with disabilities and their families to live healthy and productive lives. I’m currently working on organizing a Knowledge Translation and Exchange Symposium to communicate research evidence and lessons learned from my research with youth and parents; as well as developing an online knowledge hub www.canchild.ca.

Publications:

  • Nguyen, T, Baptiste S. (June 2014). Innovative Practice: Exploring acculturation theory to advance rehabilitation from pediatric to adult “cultures” of care. Disability and Rehabilitation (DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2014.932443).
  • Nguyen, T, Gorter, JW. (November 2013). Use of the international classification of functioning, disability and health as a framework for transition from paediatric to adult healthcare. Child Care Health and Development (DOI.10.1111-cch.12125). 
  • Nguyen, T, Freeman, M., Gorter, J.W (2013). In Brief: Developmental trajectories of youth with disabilities, ages 12 to 25 years. Keeping Current, McMaster University Hamilton, ON: CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. 

Funder(s):

  • CIHR Doctoral Award - Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship

Name: Andrea Cross
Age: 27
Field: Rehabilitation Science/Pediatrics and child health
Affiliations: School of Rehabilitation Science, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

My Story: Physical activity is a key component of my life and is the backbone to my academic and research interests. As an advanced aquatics instructor, my master’s research explored the influence of a structured swim program on children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Communication Delays. The swim program was conducted in collaboration with a multi-faceted Children’s Treatment Centre (CTC) that provides educational and rehabilitation services for children with a wide range of special needs. Having the opportunity to conduct research in a clinical/school environment and work directly with children and their families sparked my interest in clinical research and inspired me to pursue doctoral studies in Rehabilitation Science.  

The aim of my doctoral research is to work with families to translate research knowledge and support the uptake of a holistic and health-affirming approach to childhood disability. Recognizing families as the experts in children’s lives, we have formed an integrated research team, composed of families and researchers, who will work together to implement and evaluate a formal knowledge translation and exchange process. Specifically, our objective is to address the knowledge needs of families raising children with disabilities and to develop user-friendly information that will support the uptake of WHO-based ‘F-words’ concepts (Function, Family, Fitness, Fun, Friends, and Future) in children’s health care. Given the novelty of integrated knowledge translation (iKT) in childhood disability research, we expect to provide key insights into the science and practice of iKT in childhood disability research. 

Advice to Budding Researchers: Research requires a team effort — recognize the support around you; also pursue something about which you are passionate.

What is one thing you learned from a mentor that you will never forget?  Communication and collaboration are the cornerstones of our research. My supervisor (Dr. Peter Rosenbaum) has taught me to listen closely, to hear what is said, to communicate clearly, and to respect all individuals’ thoughts and perspectives. Research truly is a team effort.


Name: Amanda Binns
Field: Speech Language Pathology / Health Rehab Sciences – Speech & Language Sciences Field
Affiliations: Western University, Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning  

My Story: I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and PhD candidate in the school of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences working under the Supervision of Dr. Janis Cardy in the speech & Language Sciences field. Prior to attending Western I worked for nine years, first in private practice and then for seven years at a private research initiative under Dr. Stuart Shanker at York University. I have presented to and worked with professionals and parents locally, across North America and internationally in Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. My current research interests include examining the efficacy of developmental multi-disciplinary, parent coaching treatment approaches used with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I am also passionate about studying the functional communication use of children diagnosed with ASD, treatment and assessment of language comprehension in neuro-typical and atypical populations, and analyzing how different factors such as self-regulation can impact children’s communication and language development.  

Advice to Budding Researchers: Schedule! Write up a plan for yourself with a series of milestones to attain by a particular date. Ensuring you tackle at least a little bit each day helps you to stay on target!  
 

Funder(s):

  • OMHF (Ontario Mental Health Foundation) Research Studentship