September 15, 2023

Summer studentship awards give young researchers a chance to make a difference

Learn more about the 15 student projects we supported in 2023

Our Summer Studentship Award Program encourages the next generation of talented young researchers to pursue careers in children’s and women’s health. In 2023, we supported 15 students and their projects across four faculties. Thank you to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation for funding our amazing students!

Below are highlights of just three of these impactful summer projects. 

How is Islamophobia affecting older Muslim women in Edmonton?

Alaa Fouli worked to understand the experiences of Muslim women as they walk in their neighbourhoods and how safe they feel when they go outside, learning more about how Islamophobia shapes their reality. She says Islamophobia makes many Muslims feel that they are not safe and women, in particular, may feel this way because the clothes they wear make them visible targets. “I hope to be able to give these women a voice to make their collective experiences heard so that their stories and the challenges they face can be known,” says Fouli. She also talked to Muslim women to explore strategies that can help them feel and be safe in their neighbourhoods. 

Testing a video game exercise bike to improve the fitness of children who have had heart transplants

Children who have undergone heart transplants have lower fitness levels than children in the general population and lack of participation in sports and physical activity can impact children’s quality of life. Thankfully, exercise training programs can improve fitness levels and long-term outcomes. Mackenzie Buchanan evaluated a program that uses the MedBIKE™, a home-based, video-game-linked exercise bike that allows for supervised and individualized exercise. Children are supervised remotely by a health-care provider, who can modify the difficulty of each session as needed. “The opportunity to learn about our participants and celebrate their growth was certainly the most interesting and rewarding facet of my summer research endeavours,” says Buchanan. 

Increasing the predictability and safety of ABO-mismatched heart transplants for children

Fran Leier made progress toward expanding the pool of donors for older children who need heart transplants. Her supervisor’s lab previously showed that infants and young children can safely receive ABO-mismatched transplants because they have immature immune systems and have not yet made ABO antibodies. Leier used stored blood samples and a new test to help determine normal ranges of ABO antibodies throughout childhood, as more accurate detection of ABO antibodies is needed to assess if older children could safely receive a mismatched heart. “This research project and the continued investigation of ABO antibody development can be one more avenue to improve access to the best possible care for patients and families,” she says.

Read more about all of the projects the students worked on during the summer