Our Researchers

Meet some of our researchers and ambassadors; we support more than 140 of them!

The world of research doesn’t have to be complex, intimidating, or difficult to understand.  The research we fund, across multiple streams, from basic science through to clinical and community-based efforts, results in knowledge that we proudly share with our funding partners in ways meaningful to them. 

The Alberta Women’s Health Foundation is directly engaged with researchers and clinicians who are passionate about the work they do and the difference they make.  

These researchers and clinicians are ambassadors who are pleased to represent their work to the funding partners who make their work possible. While we cannot list them all—the brief list below provides an idea of scale and scope of the projects that are making a difference in the health of women, locally, provincially, and nationally.

Dr. Dawn Kingston

Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary
Area of research: Women’s mental health

As the Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cross-Provincial Chair in Perinatal Mental Health, Dawn is using technology to improve mental health care for pregnant women. With prenatal anxiety and depression affecting one in four pregnant Albertan women, Dawn developed The Hope Digital Platform—a comprehensive online system providing mental health screening, referral and treatment options for pregnant women in Alberta.

This platform gives primary care providers the foundation to start asking, and women the encouragement to start talking. In other words, it emboldens both to face pregnancy’s most common complication with the right tools, an empowered mindset and most importantly, hope.

Dr. Sangita Sharma

Endowed Chair in Indigenous Health
Centennial Professor and Professor in Indigenous and Global Health Research
Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Department of Medicine
Areas of research: Indigenous health, global health

Gita is working with community partners serving the most vulnerable populations to assess and improve access to and experience with healthcare services. Her work informs the development and implementation of organization-specific interventions.

Dr. Sue Ross

Cavarzan Chair in Women's Health Research
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Areas of research: Menopause

Sue is dedicated to menopause research, as well as the health and well-being of mature Indigenous women. Leading a national team, Sue is focused on research empowering mature women to take control of their own wellness. Support from the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and Alberta Women’s Health Foundation has allowed Sue to develop new and culturally relevant holistic approaches to assist women in managing their menopause symptoms; explore the effects of exercise through a social support network; and collaborate with Indigenous women to raise community awareness of menopause.

Dr. Jane Schulz

Interim Chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation Chair in Women's Health Research
Areas of research: Urogynecology

Jane is helping to educate women on pelvic floor disorders—which impact one in three women—at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. Support from the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and Alberta Women’s Health Foundation allows Jane to focus on research that has direct knowledge translation and impact on clinical innovation and efficiencies. From removing barriers and improving much-needed care for immigrants impacted by language barriers and cultural differences to introducing online pelvic floor disorder modules that decreased intake appointments by 30 minutes, Jane is improving how to connect patients with correct pathways to care.

Dr. Helen Steed

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Areas of Research: Gynecologic cancer

As a gynecologic oncologist, Helen has championed minimally invasive surgery, which results in faster recovery times, shorter hospital stays, and ultimately, less pain and discomfort for patients. Helen’s research was instrumental for building a case to bring a dedicated robot in operating theatres at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women—increasing the number of women who have access to state-of-the-art robotic surgery.

Dr. Craig Steinback

Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation
Areas of Research: Healthy pregnancy (blood pressure regulation)

As an exercise physiologist, Craig researches blood pressure-related illnesses during pregnancy. High blood pressure in pregnant women can lead to a number of illnesses such as gestational hypertension, kidney dysfunction, and, most notably, preeclampsia. With support from the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and Alberta Women’s Health Foundation, Craig is investigating the monumental changes undertaken by a women's cardiovascular system during pregnancy and why, in hypertensive pregnancies, blood vessels don’t relax like they do in healthy pregnancies.

 

Dr. Maria Ospina

Canada Research Chair in Life Course, Social Environments and Health
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Areas of research: Indigenous maternal health, social determinants of health

Maria has an innovative multidisciplinary research program that focuses on how social and environmental factors during a baby's first 1,000 days—the period between conception and a child's second birthday—shape future health for the newborn and the mother. Support from the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and Alberta Women's Health Foundation enabled Maria’s recruitment to the University of Alberta and allows her to develop a knowledge-to-action approach, using epidemiological methods to produce maternal and perinatal knowledge in relation to the developmental trajectories of chronic diseases and social determinants of health.

 

Dr. Meghan Riddell

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Area of research: Pregnancy complications (placental dysfunction)

Meghan's research is focused on understanding the biological pathways that drive the development of the placenta and the complications that cause major pregnancy difficulties. Support from the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and Alberta Women’s Health Foundation enabled her recruitment to the University of Alberta and allowed her to grow placentas in a dish—contributing to a greater understanding of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. She is also looking to develop innovative targeted therapies at the molecular level that may be used to treat these pregnancy conditions.

Dr. Lauren Beaupre

David Magee Endowed Chair in Musculoskeletal Research
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
Alberta Bone & Joint Health Institute, Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network
Area of research: Musculoskeletal

Osteoporosis affects approximately 250,000 Albertans and each year there are 22,000 osteoporosis-related fractures in the province along with their associated costs. The incidence of osteoporosis in women is continuously apparent from data trends in Alberta, with females accounting for approximately 70-75 per cent of hip fracture patients who require emergency surgery. With an aging population, increasing life expectancy, and no cure for the disease, the incidence of osteoporosis is expected to rise in Canada.

Addressing care gaps systematically, strategically and with evidence has been instrumental in improving the health, and in some cases saving the lives, of thousands of women in Alberta. Education has played an important role in the successes. The Alberta Women’s Health Foundation is working with ABJHI and the BJH SCN to support research in osteoporosis and the educational tools for women to plan for a lifetime of bone health.

 

Dr. Sandra Davidge

Distinguished University Professor
Canada Research Chair in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health
Executive Director, Women and Children's Health Research Institute
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Areas of research: Reproductive health—preeclampsia, reproductive health—developmental origins of health and disease

As many as 20 per cent of pregnancies are affected by complications—such as preeclampsia or poor fetal growth—that can lead to long-term cardiovascular problems for both mothers and their babies. Sandy’s pioneering studies on vascular health in the dire pregnancy complication preeclampsia are leading to new therapies to improve pregnancy outcomes.

With support from the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and Alberta Women’s Health Foundation, Sandy is looking at how improving outcomes for complicated pregnancies might reduce, or even prevent, future chronic cardiovascular problems in both mothers and their children.

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