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$5M for study to investigate vomiting, diarrhea in children


Calgary, AB – A new research team in Alberta is receiving $5M from the province’s government to study severe intestinal infections.

The research team, called the Alberta Provincial Pediatric Enteric Infection Team (APPETITE), will bring together clinicians and scientists to study the viruses and bacteria that cause intestinal infections in children. They are looking to determine the frequency of an expansive list of these germs that cause vomiting and diarrhea in children with the goal of informing policy makers about ways to simplify diagnosis while simultaneously building economic models that will be used to guide vaccine policy.

The lead investigator of this research team is Dr. Stephen Freedman who is a clinician scientist in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. He is an associate professor in the Department of Paediatrics, Sections of Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Gastroenterology in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He is also the vice-chair of Pediatric Emergency Research Canada (PERC), a team of Canadian health care professionals who work collaboratively to conduct research to improve outcomes for children with acute medical conditions.

Along with his co-leads Drs. Marie Louie, associate medical director of ProvLab; Bonita Lee, assistant medical director of infection control; and Xiaoli Pang, program lead, ProvLab, he assembled the multidisciplinary APPETITE team. The team includes many collaborators from both the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, policy makers from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Alberta Health Services Medical Officers of Health.

The team will evaluate novel specimen collection techniques (oral and rectal swabs) designed to simplify the approach to testing and reduce the demands placed on parents, and they will use new laboratory tests that are faster, more accurate, and test for more bugs than previously could be performed.

The knowledge generated from these steps will be combined with assessments the team perform of parent and child preferences regarding vaccines against bugs that cause vomiting and diarrhea. They will also evaluate caregiver preferences around specimen sampling and diagnostic testing to determine the optimal approaches to specimen collection and testing.

“Vomiting and diarrhea remain one of the most common reasons children aged six to 24 months are brought for emergency department care in Canada. These symptoms are extremely worrisome to parents and can, on occasion, lead to life-threatening conditions,” said Dr Freedman.