Oct. 24, 2022

Suzanne Tough named 2022 Killam Research Excellence Award recipient

Internationally recognized expert honoured for advancing research to improve health outcomes for preterm babies and mothers
Suzanne Tough
Suzanne Tough has received the 2022 Killam Research Excellence Award. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

A research pioneer and significant contributor to fundamental changes in prenatal research and advancements in care, Dr. Suzanne Tough, PhD, is the University of Calgary’s 2022 Killam Research Excellence Award recipient.

Tough is a professor in the departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) and is principal investigator of the All Our Families cohort, which began in 2008 with 3,200 sets of babies and care providers, investigating the relationship between prenatal events and child development. 

The children are now in middle childhood, and Tough says using this ‘life course approach’ enables researchers to identify threats to development which, if addressed early, can improve outcomes. She is currently on a research sabbatical from the medical school until April 2023.

“It is our honour to present the Killam Research Excellence Award to Dr. Tough,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). “Suzanne is an accomplished researcher, and her commitment to deepening our understanding of prenatal events and child development has led to significant advancements in care.

We are inspired by her leadership and dedication to this important work.

“I am deeply moved to receive a Killam award for research,” says Tough. “It is wonderful recognition of the importance of science in maternal health and child development to inform strategies that help families be as healthy as possible. I am grateful to my fellow research colleagues, and to our All Our Families participants as they are the driving force for advancing knowledge.”

Alberta has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the Canada. Tough has been studying the reasons why for decades and developing strategies to support parents and infants. She has partnered with several community organizations including the United Way, Calgary Libraries, Calgary Reads, Calgary’s school boards, the police service and health providers. She also leads work through All Our Families, and as a Max Bell-Burns Foundation Policy Fellow to study the impact of COVID-19 on Alberta families.

“Through research we are building on the facts and data that can assist decision-makers in the development of strategies to support families and enable healthy choices through challenging and often very stressful experiences. The result is advances in important areas of wellness such as mental health, where more families and children are thriving,” she says.

Tough is an award-winning and internationally recognized scientist, who was celebrated by the United Nations on International Women’s Day in 2019. She has held numerous leadership roles throughout her career, including scientific director of both the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research and the Maternal Newborn Child and Youth Strategic Clinical Network in Alberta Health Services. She was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2021.

The Killam Research Excellence Award annually recognizes a UCalgary academic who has made outstanding contributions to research over at least a decade.

Child Health and Wellness

The University of Calgary is driving science and innovation to transform the health and well-being of children and families. Led by the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, top scientists across the campus are partnering with Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, and our community to create a better future for children through research.

Suzanne Tough is a professor in the departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), and a member of the CSM’s O’Brien Institute for Public Health, ACHRI, and the Owerko Centre within ACHRI.