Government of Canada announces investment of $17M for project led by Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis

20 November 2017

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis is the recipient of $17 million in funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI) for her study TRajectories Of healthy life using Public Health and primary care Interventions in Canada: The TROPHIC Trial. This ten-year study will be undertaken by a pan-Canadian multidisciplinary team of 48 established investigators from 21 institutions across 6 provinces, working with 10,000 potential parents to improve health and habits even before pregnancy—which Dr. Dennis said is key because, in Canada, half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis

Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis will be leading the Canadian component of the HeLTI initiative. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Studies have shown that Canada’s children are falling behind:

  • 1 in 4 are not developmentally prepared for school;
  • 1 in3 are overweight or obese, and;
  • 1 in 5 have mental health problems.

Dr. Dennis said the Canadian HeLTI arm will address healthy habits and practices in four phases—pre-conception, pregnancy, infancy and early childhood. In each phase, participants will receive:

  • telephone-based collaborative care provided by nurses
  • personalized e-health interventions, based on identified risk factors that target health behaviours related to nutrition and breastfeeding, physical activity and sleep
  • information on a supportive and nurturing environment for the children and their family

“This research initiative will guide the development of new approaches to preventing chronic diseases and lay the groundwork for a healthy and productive future for our children,” said Canada’s Minisiter of Health, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor. In total, Canada’s investment in HeLTI is $33.4 million over five years. An additional $7.8 million is being provided through a partnership with national research agencies in India, China and South Africa.

“The Healthy Life Trajectories initiative brings together leading experts from Canada, India, South Africa, and China to tackle the global burden of non-communicable chronic diseases,” said Dr. Shoo Lee, scientific director, CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health. The results of this international collaborative effort will benefit children and families in Canada and worldwide.”

The Canadian lead scientist for each arm of HeLTI is:

  • Canada: Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis, University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital
  • China: Dr. William Fraser, Université de Sherbrooke
  • South Africa: Dr. Stephen Lye, Sinai Health System and University of Toronto
  • India: Dr. Stephen Matthews, University of Toronto

CIHR has also recently launched a process to create an Indigenous component of HeLTI in Canada in consultation with Indigenous communities.

For more information on Dr. Dennis’s work, please visit her website.

For more information on CIHR’s Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI) review, go here.