Two SickKids fellows awarded prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is proud to be home to two scholars recently awarded the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, a prestigious Government of Canada award that funds the country’s top scholars. Only 70 fellowships are awarded each year, which provide $70,000 over two years to fund promising researchers who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social, and research-based growth.
“We are proud to have not one, but two Banting Fellowship recipients helping to advance research at SickKids,” says Dr. Stephen Scherer, Chief of Research at SickKids. “Our postdoctoral fellows are essential to the success of SickKids research, and their work is contributing the future of paediatric health research and clinical care across the country.”
Innovative screening tool to help predict chronic pain risk in children
When a child gets into a car accident and injures their back, care teams immediately set about finding ways to deal with their immediate (acute) pain. But how do we know whether that pain will persist and become chronic? Through her Banting Fellowship Dr. Brittany Rosenbloom, a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at SickKids, is creating a screening measure to help identify which children are most at risk for developing chronic pain.
“The most interesting part of what I do is talking with patients and families,” says Rosenbloom. “Using insights from their experiences, this measure could help inform the creation of timely and relevant interventions tailored to each child.”
Rosenbloom’s interest in the science of pain began as an undergraduate student when she ran her own Japanese Jujutsu dojo and noted prevailing concepts like pain avoidance. Her work led her to collaborate on several SickKids-led research projects, including working with SickKids Drs. Fiona Campbell and Lisa Isaac to investigate the transition from acute to chronic postsurgical pain, to her current work in the Chronic Pain Clinic with supervisor Dr. Jennifer Stinson, a Senior Scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences program and Co-Director of the Pain Centre.
“What's so unique about Brittany’s research is how it aligns with SickKids’ vision of Precision Child Health, a movement toward tailored care that seeks to predict risk based on integrated data about each individual patient. Using patient information from a screening tool may help predict a child’s risk of chronic pain and develop the right intervention at the right time for that child, and contribute to the future of Precision Child Health at SickKids and beyond,” says Stinson.
Optimizing nutrition for neurodevelopment in preterm infants
In preterm infants, especially those who weigh less than 1,500 g, providing optimal nutrition is essential. Often these infants are given parent and donor milk, but how can we optimize their feeds for better child outcomes? Dr. Megan Beggs, a post-doctoral fellow and member of the MaxiMoM study, is studying how individualized nutrition and trace elements and micronutrients in parent’s and donor milk affect infant’s growth and neurodevelopment.
From analyzing milk samples in the lab to conducting clinical research rounds to coordinating the provision of individualized feeds, collecting biological samples and discussing patient health with clinical teams, Beggs shifts from the lab to the beside frequently.
“We know that trace elements in milk are important, but we don't yet understand how that impacts metabolism and early development,” explains Beggs. “By measuring trace element content, infant intake and examining the impact after 18 months as one part of our larger study, I hope to describe a standard level of nutrients that will help preterm infants not just survive but thrive.”
The first person in her family to attend post-secondary education, Beggs became a Registered Dietitian with a focus on neonatal and paediatric critical care and pursued her PhD in physiology with a focus on neonatal nutrition before coming to work at SickKids with supervisor Dr. Deborah O’Connor, a Senior Associate Scientist in the Translational Medicine program.
“The ultimate purpose of our research is to improve infant care,” says O’Connor, who is also Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. “Blinded feeding studies are very uncommon, so experts like Megan are integral to the success of the research.”
View the full list of recently awarded Banting Fellows on the Government of Canada website.
The Research Training Centre (RTC) supports over 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students, research fellows and research associates. Learn more about how you can grow your research career at SickKids.