CHILD-BRIGHT: Child Health Initiatives Limiting Disability – Brain Research Improving Growth and Health Trajectories

MSFHR is providing matching funds to support the research of Dr. Dan Goldowitz as part of CHILD-BRIGHT, one of five national chronic disease networks established through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Networks in Chronic Disease, connecting researchers, health professionals, policy-makers, and patients across the country. Goldowitz’s research in BC is also supported by BC Children’s Hospital Foundation & Sunnyhill Health Centre Foundation and the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Faculty of Medicine and Office of Research. MSFHR has committed funding over five years to support CHILD-BRIGHT and the BC-based research activities of two other networks: Can-SOLVE CKD and Diabetes Action Canada.

As many as 850,000 children in Canada are living with a brain-based developmental disability (BDD). They face lifelong challenges with mobility, language, learning, socialization and self-care, which impacts their quality of life and create special challenges for their families. They also typically have poorer health, lower educational achievement, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than children without disabilities.

CHILD-BRIGHT is a pan-Canadian network of clinicians, patients, families and scientists committed to making the future brighter for infants, children and youth with lifelong brain-based developmental disabilities and their families. The five-year project focuses on those diagnosed with a brain-based disorder such as autism, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, learning or intellectual disabilities, as well as those at high risk for a brain-based developmental disability due to pre-term delivery, congenital heart disease, or genetic anomalies.

Dr. Dan Goldowitz, a professor of Medical Genetics at UBC and the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, is one of CHILD-BRIGHT’s three co-directors, along with Drs. Steven Miller at University of Toronto/The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), and Network Director Annette Majnemer of McGill University Health Centre’s Research Institute.

CHILD-BRIGHT’S 12 patient-oriented research projects fall under three themes: “Bright Beginnings” – innovative early therapies to optimize brain and developmental outcomes; “Bright Supports” – integrating mental health and wellness support into care for children and youth, and “Bright Futures” – re-designing key parts of health care services to be more responsive to family needs, throughout the trajectory of the child’s and the family’s development.

Goldowitz is overseeing the network’s training program. His UBC team will engage with patients, researchers and policy-makers to foster a culture of patient-oriented research that could help serve as a model for future health research and lead to better outcomes for patients and their families.