Lab Canada

New research institute focuses on pediatric and maternal health

Calgary, AB – The Alberta Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary (U of C) last week celebrated the launch of the new Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health.

The institute was made possible by a $22.5 million gift from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

 At the same time, Husky Energy president and CEO John CS Lau announced a gift of $1.5 million to establish the Husky Energy Chair in Child and Maternal Health. The chair will support the work of the director of the new institute, Dr Brent Scott, former vice dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the U of C and former head of pediatrics for Alberta Health Services.

 The new research institute is a multi-facility institute with researchers located across two principal sites – the University of Calgary Health Sciences Centre and the Alberta Children’s Hospital. For the present, the new institute does not occupy its own dedicated facility, although plans are in the works for that at some point in the future.

“The research in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health is uniquely based on a journey from conception to adulthood – not in a discipline, the study of an organ system or a disease process,” says Dr Scott. “As such we encourage a multidisciplinary collaborative approach. While we have several research foci unique to the institute, there are others that will flourish best by being collaborative with other appropriate partners within and without the university.”

He adds that the institute will encourage interaction between biomedical, clinical, population health and health service delivery oriented investigators in six thematic areas: behaviour and the developing brain, molecular and genetic basis of child development, health living and injury prevention, optimizing child health outcomes, pediatric oncology, and reproductive and maternal, fetal and newborn health.

The $22.5-million donation from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation to the institute will be used to support a comprehensive educational program (inclusive of summer students, graduate students, post-docs, and clinical investigators), start-up packages for the recruitment of scientists and the creation and maintenance of research platforms/infrastructure, he says.

As research space within the U of C, Faculty of Medicine site is currently fully allocated and occupied, he says it is the goal of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health to work towards building a research tower on the West Campus adjacent the new Alberta Children’s Hospital, that in ten years time would house a vibrant, multidisciplinary research community.

Dr Scott has taken on the role of director, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health, Faculty of Medicine, at the U of C, effective today. In his new role, he says he will support the dean, Dr Tom Feasby, and the faculty in building on the faculty’s strong track record of excellence in education, research and service to society. Dr Scott has been a strong proponent of developing excellence in education and research to improve the provision of clinical care.

Dr Scott joined the Faculty of Medicine at U of C in 1982 and has brought his expertise to the classroom as a professor of paediatrics in the division of paediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Alberta Children’s Hospital and the University of Calgary, and offered his skills as an active clinician and researcher. In 1998, he was appointed professor and head, department of paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary; head, regional clinical department, paediatrics, Calgary Health Region; and chair in paediatric research, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. For the past two years he served as vice dean for the Faculty of Medicine.

Dr Scott completed his medical training at McGill University, Montreal, QC in 1976. He then undertook training in general pediatrics at the University of Alberta. In 1980, he was awarded a Medical Research Council of Canada fellowship that allowed him to continue with subspecialty training in paediatric gastroenterology and a concurrent Master of Science degree at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto and the University of Toronto.