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Research Chairs & Professorships

Submitted by kathleen.local on Sun, 05/31/2015 - 8:10pm

Research Chairs

The faculty's capacity for research expanded in 2012 with the appointment of Nursing's first research chair. Since then, additional chairs have been announced with investigations into cardiovascular and cerebral health and child development.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health

Chairholder: Nicole Letourneau, RN, PhD 


Established in 2012, as the first research chair in the Faculty of Nursing, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health focuses on finding innovative ways to tackle the important social issue of the effects of toxic stressors on developing children. One in four Canadian children are thought to be at risk for developing emotional or behavioural problems as a result of family violence, or their mother’s depression or addictions, according to Statistics Canada.

The chair is funded by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, which raises funds for excellence in child health, research and family centred care.

Chairholder Nicole Letourneau is a well-known Canadian nurse researcher with a 15-year track record in studying how children are affected by family issues such as post-partum depression, addiction and violence. She has worked to identify the types of parental interventions that are most effective in supporting vulnerable children in these toxic family environments.

“Letourneau was one of only a handful of Canada Research Chair holders who are nurses by profession,” says Dianne Tapp, the dean of the nursing faculty. “We are fortunate to be getting a premier scientist who will build our research capacity in this area.”

Letourneau’s Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Studies Program investigates tools that support the healthy development of vulnerable children, especially while they are still in an early care giving environment. These tools can help prevent the cognitive, social-emotional and behavioural problems that these children may develop later in life.

Letourneau has received many honours and accolades for her work, including induction into Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. She was a Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy research fellow, held the Canada Research Chair in Healthy Child Development, and was named a Premier Young Researcher by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Letourneau was also appointed one of the lead investigators at the university’s newly formed (2015) Owerko Centre for neurodevelopmental research, a multi-faculty research initiative with principal investigators from nursing, medicine, psychology, kinesiology and community health sciences.

The Faculty of Nursing Chair in Gerontology

Chairholder: Lorraine Venturato, BBus (Hlth Admin), BN (Hons), PhD


The Faculty of Nursing's second research chair - the Chair in Gerontological Nursing – was announced in 2014 and focuses on strengthening ties between health care educators, researchers and service providers and developing nursing expertise in this field.

Lorraine Venturato, BBus (Hlth Admin), BN (Hons), PhD, joined the faculty from Griffith University in Queensland Australia.  She began her nursing career in a long-term care facility in Brisbane which sparked an early interest in working with older adults. She continued with this population across a variety of acute, long-term and community settings before moving into education and research.

Her program of research explores models of service delivery and workforce development across community and long-term care settings.  In 2007, Venturato was instrumental in establishing an innovative partnership between Griffith University and RSL Care (one of the largest providers of community and long-term care for older people in Queensland) that focused on integrating research and practice in care of older people through the development of a joint research fellow position and an industry-focused research program.

Integrating research, education and practice

“This program with RSL Care was an important step in the integration of research, education and practice," she says. "We developed innovative models of care, built clinical care and research capacity and established and embedded an evidence-based culture within the aged care environment.” 

Venturato has coordinated national workforce development workshops around Australia for the aged care industry and government policy makers and is recognized as a leader in aged care workforce development and research in Australia.

Her clinical research focuses on dementia care and workforce issues associated with the care of older people with dementia. She is an active member of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre and the Dementia Training Study Centre in Australia.

"We are truly excited to announce this chair and to have Dr Venturato join us," says Dianne Tapp, professor and dean of the Faculty of Nursing.  "The issues around the care of older adults in Canada are challenging and our experiences here are not dissimilar from those of other developed nations.  With Lorraine Venturato's knowledge from her work in Australia and her ongoing research now in Canada, we know the University of Calgary can become a hub for innovative thought around seniors' health care."

Many parallels between health care in Australia and Canada

Despite the drastic change in climate, Venturato is enthusiastically leaping into the Alberta health care scene and is confident the transition to the Canadian system will not be onerous. "There are very general similarities between Australia and Canada when it comes to the older adult and health, including increasing demand for high quality cost effective care, staffing shortages and skill mix issues, increases in chronic diseases and consumer involvement in care with an increasingly regulated operating environment, " she says.  

“We know demand for high quality specialized aged care service is growing, both in relation to community care options and residential care services. I think one of the biggest challenges for aged care service providers, educators and researchers is to find ways to come together, with consumers, to begin to address not just current needs, but to also explore and reshape service delivery for older people into the future.  I am really looking forward to taking on that challenge here in Alberta.”

The chair is internally funded through revenues generated in support of the Faculty of Nursing operating budget.

Venturato has also been appointed co-leader of a cross-faculty team to explore early identification of and interventions for dementia. The Dementia and Cognitive Disorders Neuro Team is an initiative in support of the university's Brain and Mental Health Research Strategy to support the work of more than 200 researchers at the University of Calgary who are making a global impact in brain and mental health research, unlocking discoveries and innovative new treatments. The Healthy Brain Aging Research Theme is part of the new strategy's focus. 

The Guru Nanak Dev Ji DIL (Heart) Research Chair investigating heart health in the South Asian population

Chairholder: Kathryn King-Shier, RN, PhD


The Faculty of Nursing and the DIL Walk Foundation announced the creation of the faculty's third research chair in 2015, the Guru Nanak Dev Ji DIL (Heart) Research Chair to benefit the study of cardiovascular health in the South Asian population. As chairholder, cardiovascular nurse scientist Kathryn King-Shier will lead research into heart health for this community, who are at greater risk of heart disease than the general population.

“We are excited to partner with the DIL Walk Foundation on this exciting initiative,” says Dianne Tapp, dean, Faculty of Nursing. “Their commitment to cardiovascular health for their community coupled with Kathryn King-Shier’s extensive program of research in this area will go a long way in raising awareness of the heart risks for south Asians.”

DIL Walk co-founder and local cardiologist, Dr. Anmol Kapoor, says the five-year chair will help bring the ongoing research to the community level. “South Asians are three to five times at greater risk of experiencing heart attacks compared to other communities, and they are happening more frequently among younger South Asians as well.”

King-Shier has been working with ethnic communities in Calgary and across the country for more than 12 years with a program of research focused on the ethno-cultural and gender differences in cardiovascular disease symptoms, access to care and prevention activities. As a University of Calgary professor and member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, King-Shier’s multi-methods approach enables her to examine health issues from a variety of perspectives. She and her research team have developed rigorous translation processes and have therefore been able to undertake studies in eight languages in addition to English.

“With this chair appointment, I can now concentrate on developing effective, ethno-culturally sensitive programs aimed at prevention and management of heart disease,” says King-Shier. “Ultimately, this should reduce the burden of illness on families, promote quality of life and reduce mortality. I am delighted and proud to have the opportunity to apply my research in a very tangible way.”

Kapoor is confident in the changes that will occur as a result of DIL Walk’s support of a research chair. “This collaboration allows a dedicated team to focus their efforts on lowering the burden of heart disease in the south Asian community in Canada. We hope similar projects could be started across the world, all leading to changes based on scientific evidence.”

The Guru Nanak Dev Ji DIL (Heart) Research Chair is named for the founder of Sikhism and the first Sikh guru. Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed all humanity should be treated equally and encouraged physical and spiritual health through community service and a moral life. 

The chair is a $1-million five-year commitment with both DIL Walk and the University of Calgary contributing equally. The DIL Walk Foundation is a Calgary-based not for profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness of heart disease in south Asians by encouraging them to take a proactive role toward their heart health.

Kids Cancer Care Foundation Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care

Chairholder: Nancy Moules, RN, PhD

A $1-million gift from Calgary’s Kids Cancer Care to the Faculty of Nursing will build research and improve clinical interventions to help families heal from the psycho-social aspects of a childhood cancer diagnosis.

The first of its kind in Canada, the Kids Cancer Care Foundation Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care allows recipient Nancy Moules to continue her groundbreaking program of research in pediatric oncology. Moules, a professor in the Faculty of Nursing and a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, has focused her studies on the impact of cancer beyond the disease itself, such as strained marital and familial relationships, employment and financial difficulties, stress management and emotional exhaustion — experiences that are typically overshadowed by the cancer, its treatment and prognosis.

“This is the first chair in the Faculty of Nursing of $1 million that is completely externally funded,” says Dianne Tapp, dean, Faculty of Nursing. “We are grateful to Kids Cancer Care for this amazing gift and their continued partnership in improving the quality of life for children and their families who are in the midst of this crisis." 

Moules is an award-winning scholar, teacher and researcher and is widely recognized for leading innovative research in this field. While she acknowledges the significant impact natural science research has had on reducing cancer mortality rates, decreasing side-effects, developing new cures and saving lives, she says there is another story that type of research doesn’t tell.

"The research we do into childhood cancers speaks to experiences — grandparents’ worries and efforts; the impact on the parental relationship; the experiences of boyfriends and girlfriends of adolescents with cancer; the impact of kids cancer camps — to name a few.  That’s what’s relevant to me and I am so honoured that Kids Cancer Care recognizes the value of this kind of research as well.”

Christine McIver, founder and chief executive officer, Kids Cancer Care says, “I couldn’t be happier than to see this research chair established and to see it go to Nancy Moules. Nancy is a gifted and respected researcher and, as with many nurses, she is filled with compassion for the children families she serves.

“As a bereaved parent who lost a son to cancer many years ago, I know how important nurses are,” adds McIver. ”If you ask a child or parent about their cancer experience, they’ll tell you about the nurses. These caring professionals are at your side at diagnosis and they’re at your side during treatment. They’re the ones who hold your child’s head and hold your hands.

"Nancy has been at the bedside of children too and her research and expertise will not only help nurses; it will help all health-care practitioners to better understand the needs of families, which will one day lead to better services and strategies for care and ultimately to better outcomes for children with cancer.”

The Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cross-Provincial Chair in Perinatal Mental Health

Chairholder: Dawn Kingston, RN PhD

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation in Edmonton and the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Nursing have joined to fund research into anxiety and depression in pregnant women and the long term outcomes on their health and the health of their children.

The Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cross-Provincial Chair in Perinatal Mental Health partners academic research in Calgary with clinical care at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, and brings together the areas of nursing, obstetrics and psychiatry. Researchers attached to the chair will look at mental health issues that can arise during pregnancy and postpartum — known as perinatal mental health — and the impact this can have on families and communities. They’ll also work with couples dealing with fertility challenges and women coping with pregnancy loss.

“The University of Calgary is committed to advancing meaningful research in the communities we lead and serve, and is dedicated to working with community partners to make a significant impact in the lives of Albertans,” says University of Calgary Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dru Marshall. “Academic research is not accomplished alone. We’re grateful to the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation for their vision and commitment to advancing research in women’s health, specifically the area of perinatal mental health.”

Faculty of Nursing Dean Dianne Tapp agrees. “Our five research chairs have been created through trusting partnerships with our community-collaborative community partnerships that fulfil our research mission and assist our communities in making Alberta a better, healthier place.”

Chair recipient, associate professor Dawn Kingston, is a noted researcher whose been working in the perinatal mental health area for more than 10 years. New evidence is shifting the understanding of perinatal mental health globally, she explains. “We used to think that the main mental health problem was postpartum depression. But the science doesn’t support that anymore, and how we set up our mental health system and direct our resources should follow the science.”

Kingston continues: “This gift offers the opportunity to continue building the science upon which we can found a universal system of perinatal mental health care so that all women can receive the care they need and so we can improve the lives of Albertan, and Canadian families.”


There are currently two professorships in the Faculty of Nursing: