December 13, 2023

5 inspiring stories of 2023

As the year comes to a close, we want to reflect on our progress at the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI). 

Over 400 WCHRI members play a crucial role in our impact on women’s and children’s health research. Their diverse expertise and shared commitment drive innovation and collaboration, locally and globally. 

Join us in exploring five inspiring stories that shaped our journey this year and demonstrate the power of our incredible partnership. From innovative solutions in maternal health research to empowering cancer survivors and advancing autism diagnosis, each story shows progress, resilience and hope.

Gut feeling: Connecting mom’s mental health to baby’s brain development 

WCHRI trainee Carmen Tessier, supervised by Anita Kozyrskyj, found marked differences in the gut bacteria of babies whose moms were depressed during the pregnancy period. Tessier’s groundbreaking study highlights the importance of supporting maternal mental health during pregnancy and breastfeeding to impact children’s development positively. 

(Photo: WCHRI)

Better mental health means a better life for kids with FASD

Neuro–psychologist Jacqueline Pei’s mission is to identify barriers that prevent kids with Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) from accessing mental health services. Pei and her counterpart Carly McMorris, at Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, are working with front-line health professionals from all over Alberta to brainstorm strategies to mitigate these barriers.

(photo: supplied)

Developing a “weed killer” to treat a type of muscular dystrophy

WCHRI trainee Saeed Anwar, supervised by Toshifumi Yokota, is researching a DNA-like molecule to prevent muscle damage. Anwar’s work is an innovative approach to solving genetic diseases and has earned international recognition while working towards his PhD.

Sophia Pin, Carla Prado, Christa Aubrey (photos: supplied)

Helping endometrial cancer survivors stay healthy after treatment

Carla Prado, Sophia Pin and Christa Aubrey are working on the RESILIENCE project, utilizing a digital program to empower endometrial cancer survivors to make sustainable lifestyle changes. They are focused on improving heart health through nutrition, physical activity and mindfulness. The initiative addresses challenges faced by survivors, aiming to enhance their overall well-being and reduce their cardiovascular risks.

(photo: William Au)

Research and new assessment tools can improve timely diagnosis of autism

Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, a developmental pediatrician, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Autism and Stollery Science Lab Distinguished Researcher, is working on early detection and intervention tools to improve outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Zwaigenbaum aims to provide timely diagnoses and empower families and individuals with ASD by offering a better understanding and access to essential support services.