Nov. 18, 2020

UCalgary announces Child Health and Wellness research strategy

Community partnerships fuel research for children and families

The University of Calgary is announcing Child Health and Wellness as a cross-cutting research priority, becoming a national leader in this critical area.

“Together with our superb partners, Alberta Health Services, and our community, the University of Calgary is amplifying its commitment to paediatric health,” says Dr. Ed McCauley, UCalgary's president and vice-chancellor. “We're proud to prioritize research in child health and wellness — our significant capacity, combined with our strategic focus, positions us to be a leader in Canada. Thanks to strong partnerships and a generous community, UCalgary is applying our research to help children and families thrive.”

  • Pictured above: Daniel Audley, whose life was saved by research-based treatment

Four decades of community support have helped UCalgary build a critical mass of researchers — 1,000 scholars, trainees and staff dedicated to child health and wellness. This dynamic community, working across the university and Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH), is partnering with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, Alberta Health Services, education leaders, child and youth-serving agencies and families to solve the most critical issues facing children today.

It brings me to tears knowing that kids will be the focus of even more research at Alberta Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary,” says Stacey Audley, whose son was treated at ACH. “Without research to improve treatments, we would have lost our son.” 

“Research in child health and well-being has the power to transform the future for children and families," says Dr. Susa Benseler, MD, PhD, director of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine, and strategy lead. "We are deeply thankful that 40 years of community partnership is fueling our passionate community of scholars. 

Identifying child health and wellness as a university priority allows us to focus the spectacular talents of our researchers on the needs of children and families. Together, we are embarking on a new era.

“We are incredibly grateful to our generous community,” says Saifa Koonar, president and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Their vision, commitment and decades of investment in paediatric research have created this nation-leading opportunity. Ultimately, children and families in Alberta will be among the first to benefit from important new discoveries and our community will be healthier and stronger as a result.”

“Congratulations and thank you for making children a priority,” says Dr. Sid Viner, MD, zone medical director, Alberta Health Services. “Partnerships like ours are vital to ensure the care we provide is cutting-edge, backed by the latest research, and supplemented by effective, proven prevention strategies. Our children deserve nothing less.”

The Child Health and Wellness Strategy highlights five grand challenge areas with the greatest potential impact for children and their families. It maps out an exciting new chapter in scientific discovery at UCalgary, focused on accelerating research into prevention and care to benefit children in Calgary and around the world:

  • From vulnerable to resilient: Identifying, understanding and addressing serious threats to children’s physical and mental health while empowering children, adolescents, families and communities.
  • Better beginnings: Optimizing maternal, fetal, newborn and child health with accurate prediction, prevention and intervention.
  • Pushing the boundaries of brain and mental health: Leading discoveries in brain biology, resilience and new therapies for children, teens and young adults.
  • Ending the diagnostic odyssey: Rapidly deciphering and addressing the genetic origins of disease to optimize tailored treatments.
  • Surviving and thriving: Reducing the lifelong impact of childhood cancers by advancing precision therapies today and developing new treatments for tomorrow.

These grand challenge areas are integrated with two cross-cutting approaches: harnessing big data for optimal child outcomes and transforming health care for children and families. Precision child health, a focus area at UCalgary, underpins the whole strategy.

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 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.