Improving health, two patients at a time
Endowment expands maternal-fetal research capacity at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women
Maternal-fetal health was a relatively new specialty when it first drew the interest of Dr. Radha Chari as she was completing her residency at the University of Alberta. More than two decades later, Edmonton is becoming known as a centre for this discipline, due in no small part to the efforts of Chari herself.
Chari, who has been both a clinician and a researcher in Edmonton for more than 20 years, holds the current Lois Hole Hospital for Women (LHHW) Chair in Women’s Health Research. “We’re looking at the big picture,” she says of her plans. “What we do in the area of maternal-fetal health impacts two patients—the mother, for the next 40 to 50 years of her life, and the newborn, for the next 80 or so years of life. That’s what motivates me.”
Her vision is part of a relatively new and still growing concept of health as a continuum that starts before conception and continues through the newborn stage into childhood and adulthood. It’s the model on which Chari bases her clinical and research work, from developing a unit serving northern and central Alberta for at-risk pregnancies to studying the effects of prenatal exercise on fetal growth and working on policy for managing preterm labour. These are just a few of her projects.
With the support of the endowment, Chari plans to continue to grow maternal and perinatal health research expertise at the LHHW by recruiting an epidemiologist and other maternal-fetal health research specialists. Chari has already helped recruit Dr. Christy-Lynn Cooke, an expert in intrauterine growth restriction, with the help of a Women and Children’s Health Research Institute recruitment and retention grant.
“Endowments are critical to providing opportunities to address important research questions and give us the answers to improve health-care delivery,” says Chari, who is also the chair of the U of A’s department of obstetrics and gynecology.
The chair in women’s health research is funded by generous supporters of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, through WCHRI.