Research Programs

Research Themes

Research themes at CHRIM target key health issues experienced by children living in Manitoba. Our themes are comprised of highly trained, multi-disciplinary scientists and trainees, that are working together to tackle these larger and complex issues. CHRIM has four themes: Biology of Breathing (BoB), Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM), Excellence in Neurodevelopment and Rehabilitation Research in Child Health (ENRRICH), and PRomoting Innovation in Mental Health through eHealth Excellence (PRIME).

CHRIM’s unique environment of clinician scientists working alongside the basic scientists within each of these themes creates an incredible training environment for ground-breaking research to flourish. Through the multi-disciplinary approach at CHRIM, theme members are able to more efficiently translate their research into treatments and solutions for patients throughout Manitoba and beyond.

Biology of Breathing

Biology of Breathing (BoB) is one of the key research themes at the institute and is made up of 15 principal investigators and collaborating investigators working together to carry out world-class research in pediatric pulmonary disorders such as asthma, oxidative stress, newborn apnea, and more. Our institute provides the BoB group with resources to conduct molecular biology and lung physiology assessment, and offers an interactive, multi-disciplinary training program for basic and clinical trainees that is linked to nationally supported networks.

Asthma and Allergy Group
This group of investigators work within the overall “BoB” theme at CHRIM, but focus specifically on asthma and allergies in children, with a strong focus on the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). They work closely with the Children’s Allergy and Asthma Education Centre (CAAEC) – another Children’s Hospital Foundation-funded program within the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg. We know that food allergies and asthma are on the rise, and the CHRIM Asthma and Allergy Group work on understanding this phenomenon and examining key biological and environmental factors in early life that may cause/prevent these diseases.

Read more: Azad Lab CAAEC

Biology of Breathing Research Trainees Hub (BReaTH)
The Biology of Breathing Research Trainees’ Hub (BReaTH) offers a multidisciplinary and interactive training environment and resources for basic and clinical science post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate summer students.

Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM)

Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba (DREAM) is a key research theme at CHRIM. Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic illness in Canada, and Manitoba has one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in children in the world. Type 2 diabetes used to be called “adult-onset diabetes” because we didn’t think it occurred in children. In 1985, one of our leading diabetes doctors and investigators, Dr. Heather Dean, discovered the first case of type 2 diabetes in a child. Since then, Manitoba and CHRIM has become one of the world’s top research centres for type 2 diabetes. The DREAM theme works towards excellence in epidemiological and basic science research in the area of obesity and type 2 diabetes complications in youth, and makes important discoveries that will lead to better prevention and treatment of this disease.

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Improving Renal Complications in Adolescents with Type 2 Diabetes through Research (iCARE)
Improving Renal Complications in Adolescents with Type 2 Diabetes through Research (iCARE) is an important project within the “DREAM” theme at CHRIM. This group looks at the high burden of renal complications associated with youth-onset type 2 diabetes, culminating with end-stage kidney disease in early adulthood. Detecting and understanding the causes of albuminuria (the presence of a blood protein called albumin in the urine – a symptom of kidney disease) in youth is an important way to identify risk early on in these children, and will lead to better prevention and treatment strategies.

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Excellence in Neurodevelopment and Rehabilitation Research in Child Health (ENRRICH)

The ENRRICH theme will combine interdisciplinary research and cutting-edge knowledge translation with the goal of improving the quality of life for the thousands of children and families who require pediatric neurodevelopment and rehabilitation services in Manitoba, central Nunavut, and northern Ontario. Compared to the national average, Manitoba has a higher proportion of children 0-14 years who live with a disability. Since current healthcare services and treatments for children with neurodevelopment and rehabilitation needs are based on the current knowledge and evidence available, new research in this area is needed to fuel discovery and treatment interventions. Researchers within the theme will be highly engaged with other organizations and programs across Winnipeg also focused on Child Health, such as Specialized Services for Children & Youth (SSCY) and the Pan Am Concussion Program.

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PRomoting Innovation in Mental Health through eHealth Excellence (PRIME)

PRIME is dedicated to developing innovative mental health programs for children and youth across Manitoba. The research theme brings together shared expertise in unmet child mental health and program development needs with a dedicated team of eHealth professionals who help to reduce burdens of mental illness in Manitoba and potentially across the country.

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Research Programs

Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)

The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) research team focuses on early-life exposures and experiences that shape lifelong health. Their current research is focused on the role of maternal nutrition, infant feeding and human milk composition in growth and development during infancy and childhood.

This team is transdisciplinary, combining expertise in molecular biology, epidemiology, statistics, nutrition, microbiome and maternal-child health. They collaborate and use model systems, clinical cohorts, and administrative databases to study DOHaD in cells, animals and human populations.

Current research projects within the DOHaD research program includes the largest multidisciplinary, longitudinal, population-based birth cohort study in Canada, The CHILD Study; The International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium, and the Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC), among others.

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Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease in Children Network (DEVOTION)

The Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease in Children Network (DEVOTION) is a multidisciplinary cluster of investigators, policymakers, and provincial stakeholders working together to advance translational research and the understanding of the developmental origins of health and chronic diseases in children. DEVOTION consists of scientists, policymakers and stakeholders with expertise ranging from cell-based science to early childhood education and community-based interventions. The integration of four pillars of research spanning these diverse areas will facilitate rapid translation of scientific discoveries into policy and clinical decision making that will transform the maternal-child landscape in Manitoba.

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Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids (TREKK)

Most acutely ill and injured children in Canada are managed within emergency departments that are not part of a children’s hospital. Difficulties in getting the right resources and training have been cited as barriers to providing the best possible care in these settings. This has resulted in variable levels of emergency care for children within Canada. Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids (TREKK) is a knowledge mobilization network established to address these critical knowledge gaps and improve emergency care for children across Canada.

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Healthy Smile Happy Child

Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) is an intersectoral, collaborative partnership that engages communities in Early Childhood Caries (ECC) prevention strategies and promotion of early childhood oral health. ECC, also known as early childhood tooth decay or cavities, is a destructive, yet preventable, form of tooth decay in young children. It is particularly common among children within disadvantaged populations. Manitoba experiences extreme demand and long wait times for pediatric dental surgery under general anesthesia. This burden and the need for effective prevention and sustainable oral health promotion strategies led to the development of the Healthy Smile Happy Child partnership.

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Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network 

Inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) are genetic diseases caused by mutations in either the nuclear or mitochondrial genome. Although each of the more than 600 known IEMs is individually rare, together they affect more than 6,400 patients in the Prairies—primarily children. The Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network (CPMN) will provide access to a full range of multidisciplinary expertise, develop best practice approaches, and provide, as needed, clinical specialist coverage for generalist physicians and their patients. It will also ensure the timely and more cost-effective delivery of innovative and relevant genomic testing in the Prairies, including rapid, inexpensive mitochondrial DNA testing not available elsewhere; generate genomics data that will stay in Canada; and contribute to knowledge and expertise in Canada across multiple disciplines and specialties. The result will be the timely treatment and improved outcomes for IEM patients.

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Every Child Every Time

Thanks to the immense progress in medicine over the last three decades, management and prognosis of many injuries, acute illnesses, and chronic diseases in children of all age groups have greatly improved. However, pain due to medical conditions is still often underrecognized and undertreated; many diagnostic procedures and medical treatments include pain. Pain has been found to initiate significant and long-lasting physical, psychological, and social consequences. For example, fear of needle pain due to respective experience in childhood was shown to result in avoidance of healthcare later in life. Every Child, Every Time is an initiative of the WRHA Child Health Program and the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, and is a promise to prevent and relieve pain in all children and adolescents who receive healthcare in the WRHA region.

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Hirschsprung’s Disease (HD) is a congenital disease where the large intestine does not have the nerve cells needed to expel stools normally from the body, affecting one in 5000 newborns. Shit Happens is a project that brings families dealing with HD together with clinicians and researchers in a joint effort to address the most important information needs related to caring for a child with HD. Connecting all relevant stakeholders to guide research of best practice is referred to as “Integrated Knowledge Translation,” a pillar of this project. The name “Shit Happens” was chosen by Liz Crawford, a mom of a child with HD who created an online Hirschsprung’s community. Liz chose the name because “of its relevance and to break the barriers of an otherwise socially awkward topic. For a child and family dealing with HD, the idea of ‘shit happening’ tends to bring feelings of joy and relief. Many HD children suffer from chronic constipation and occasional bowel obstruction. When bowel movement finally occurs, it is not for the faint of heart… hence the name. Laugh or cry… may as well laugh!”

Visit the Shit Happens Hirschsprung’s Community Facebook page