Professor Cindy-Lee Dennis, a researcher who focuses on the rigorous evaluation of interventions to improve maternal and infant health, has been appointed the Women’s Health Research Chair at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital.
This chair, funded by the University of Toronto, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and St. Michael’s Hospital, will enable Professor Dennis to continue to lead a program of research and education in women’s health, with a particular emphasis on improving breastfeeding outcomes, preventing and treating perinatal depression and anxiety, examining the health of immigrant women and children, and developing interventions that involve fathers.
Professor Dennis has the distinction of also holding a Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health at the University of Toronto. She is cross-appointed to the Department of Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine and is on the steering committee of the Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development. Further, she works closely with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health, and Public Health Ontario. She has held the Shirley Brown Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research at Women’s College Hospital since 2011, and recently completed her first five-year term. She will remain an adjunct scientist at Women’s College Research Institute.
Professor Dennis is the principal investigator of six large, multi-site studies related to improving breastfeeding exclusivity rates and coordinating postpartum depression identification and treatment in primary care pediatric settings. She is also examining the relationship between maternal and paternal depression and its effect on child development and determining why immigrant women are at increased risk to develop postpartum depression.
“We are excited to announce Professor Dennis as this new chair holder,” says Linda Johnston, dean of the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing. “Bloomberg Nursing has a rich tradition of excellence in research on women’s health, and we’re looking forward to bringing Professor Dennis’ expertise into areas across the Faculty, from undergraduate and graduate programming, to the development of an annual symposium in Women’s Health.”
Professor Dennis will work out of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, where she has been appointed a scientist. “We are excited with this collaboration with Bloomberg Nursing,” said Dr. Arthur S. Slutsky, vice-president of research at St. Michael’s. “Professor Dennis is a perfect fit with the research priorities of St. Michael’s and its focus on disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.”
The Women’s Health Research Chair will also have an international presence, fostering exchange, partnership, and dialogue with researchers, clinicians, and decision makers around the world. “I’m looking forward to continuing to find ways to improve the health of women and infants, not just in Canada, but globally as well,” Dennis says.