Our start in life has a profound impact on our health and longevity. Early life matters. Early interventions have been proven to improve the developmental and life trajectories for the most vulnerable of our children, including those who have experienced in utero and early life adversity. Relationships also matter in the lives of children and youth; resiliency develops through the interactive effects of nature and nurture, both biology and environment. Brokering trust through respectful engagement and community partnerships creates opportunities for sustained interventions and healthier transition into adult health services.

Our research focuses on addressing disparities in health care engagement and inequities in health outcomes, with an effort to include populations of Canadian infants, children and youth who may be excluded, stereotyped, and/or become less visible in clinical research studies, due to socio-cultural barriers, material disenfranchisement and/or developmental diversity.


The RICHER (Responsive, Intersectoral, Child & Community Health, Education and Research) Program in Social Pediatrics is a translational research to practice community outreach program seeking to make health services (primary to specialized) accessible to socially vulnerable children and families. Our “place-based” work approach has brought provincial and national, and recently international, attention. We are in our 10th year of collaborative study with UBC, PHSA (Children’s, Women’s and Sunny Hill), and BC regional health authorities. The RICHER Social Pediatrics Initiative (SPI) is co-lead with Dr. Judith Lynam , Professor of Nursing (UBC, CFRI), and is a participatory research program with primary health providers focusing on improving methods to measure health care access, patient trust and engagement, and developmental outcomes for socially and materially disenfranchised children and youth. We recently have partnered with Public Health Ontario and other Canadian Social Pediatrics initiatives on a ‘Realist Synthesis of Social Pediatrics Theory’ literature review, with focus on mechanisms and outcomes for effective service provision and engagement with vulnerable child/youth populations.

Our work with NeuroDevNet on Clinical Community Research with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is addressing gene-environment interactions, predictive biomarkers, and the relationship between structural alterations in the brain and functional outcomes. Thanks to our partnership with the communities engaged with the RICHER Social Pediatrics Initiative, we have been able to assist in the engagement and recruitment of families who often are unable to participate in research studies due to financial and other social barriers. Many of our families have experienced early life adversity with adverse childhood experiences (ACES). We are committed to knowledge transfer and dissemination of new discoveries from this national study of children with disabilities that will inform the development of effective interventions for children, youth and young adults affected by FASD and other disabilities, compounded by poverty, early life adversity and other ACES. This research is on-going, and in collaboration with Drs. Dan Goldowitz and and Tim Oberlander (BC Children's Hospital) and co-lead FASD Principle Investigators, Drs. James Reynolds and Joanne Weinberg,

The Sleep/Wake Behaviour Clinic and Research Lab, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, has developed an innovative and internationally acclaimed approach to pediatric sleep research that uses mixed methods to measure, describe and address sleep problems in children and youth with disabilities, including those with both genetic and acquired craniofacial conditions, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This collaborative research partnership is led by Dr. Osman Ipsiroglu (BC Children's Hospital), with our collaborations from the BC Children’s Provincial Cleft Palate Program with Dr. Douglas Courtemanche, Division of Plastic Surgery, C&W Chief of Staff, Dr. William McKellin, UBC Anthropology and Sociology, and Dr. Amy Salmon, researcher with the Canada FASD Research Network.


To be updated with input from BB&D Theme lead, T. Oberlander. Please refer to CVs of BC Children's Hospital Investigators: Oberlander, Ipsiroglu and Lynam for prior grants as co-applicant.

Honours & Awards

BC Pediatrics Society Judith Hall Advocacy Award, November 2015

Canadian Pediatric Society Certificate of Merit, 2009

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to the community, Governor General of Canada, 2012, presented by Minister of Parliament, Dr. Hedy Fry, January 17, 2013

Research Group Members

Beenu Bajwa, Research Assistant
Meghan Boersma, Research Coordinator
Matthew Boroditsky
Mary Jane Hornaas