Five McMaster University researchers are joining forces with local health-care partners to promote children’s health in Hamilton, with help from $1.175 million in funding from the Juravinski Research Institute (JRI).

The co-principal investigators (PIs) include Rohan D’Souza, Stelios Georgiades, Olaf Kraus de Camargo, Katherine Morrison and Gita Wahi, who are aiming to unite research centres and academic departments at Hamilton Health Sciences/McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH), McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, with family and community partners under the Towards a Brighter Path for Every Child in Hamilton umbrella.

“This funding is an exciting first step toward realizing a truly collaborative future for child health research across Hamilton where families, researchers, clinicians and community organizations work together to improve the health of children in our city,” said Katherine Morrison, a professor of the Department of Pediatrics, director of the Centre for Metabolism, Obesity and Diabetes Research (MODR) and a pediatric endocrinologist at MCH.

The PIs submitted their proposal for Brighter Path in 2022 in response to the JRI’s Child and Youth Health funding call.

“Margaret and the late Charles have always been champions for enhancing the health and well-being of all Hamiltonians, including the children and youth who will grow up to become the leaders of tomorrow,” said Julian Dobranowski, chair of the JRI steering and scientific committees.

“This new project is helping to shine a light on Margaret and Charles’s key vision for the Juravinski Research Institute: Uniting researchers and care providers from across the city to collaborate on groundbreaking research that will improve the health of Canadians.”

Brighter Path is catalyzing a collaborative network spearheaded by the departments of pediatrics, psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences and obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster.

Today, McMaster involvement with Brighter Path network also includes the departments of biochemistry, family medicine, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, medicine, rehabilitation sciences and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering, with additional partners anticipated as the work evolves.

McMaster-affiliated research centres and groups joining Brighter Path are the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, the Offord Centre for Child Studies, MODR, the McMaster Autism Research Team and the Chanchlani Research Centre.

“This funding will be a catalyst for an integrated approach to child health research that is strengths-based and aims to reduce the health inequities that currently exist in Hamilton, where a child’s neighbourhood and family income level can impact their health outcomes,” said co-PI Gita Wahi, associate professor of the Department of Pediatrics and member of both the Chanchlani Research Centre and MODR.

The PIs say that research until now has been siloed within groups and disciplines because of traditional organizational and funding structures, but now there is an opportunity to make a collective impact with efficient and large-scale evidence generation, uptake, and policy change needed to improve care, services and health outcomes for Hamilton-area children.

“The vision is one of a brighter path for all children in Hamilton. Recognizing that differences in child health exist across the City of Hamilton, often rooted in the social determinants of health, we will be working with families and community partners to begin understanding the factors that contribute to those differences and how, through family- and community-led solutions, we can meaningfully address them,” said Olaf Kraus de Camargo, an associate professor of the Department of Pediatrics and co-director of CanChild.

As well as empowering families and communities, Brighter Path also aims to offer a cutting-edge research training environment enabled by new collaborations across clinical and research disciplines.

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