Suzanne Tough, Ph.D. Principal Investigator
Suzanne Tough is a Professor with the Department of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary and Health Scholar supported by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions. As the principal investigator of the All Our Families (formerly All Our Babies) cohort, the overall vision of her research program is to optimize birth and childhood outcomes by creating evidence that informs the development of community and clinical programs and influences policy. Suzanne has undertaken research in delayed childbearing, reproductive technology, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, preterm birth, prenatal care, maternal mental health and child development. Suzanne has been recognized for the All Our Families training environment through awards in graduate supervision. She has been also recognized for her contributions through a Global TV Women of Vision Award, an Alumni Award of Excellence, and A People’s First Award. As a member of the United Way Council of Champions and other advisory committees, Suzanne collaborates to develop the All Our Families research agenda so that evidence can be useful for decision making and program planning.
Karen Benzies, BScN, MN, PhD; RN Co-Investigator
Dr. Benzies is a Professor with the Faculty of Nursing, and Adjunct Research Professor with the Department of Paediatrics, Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She received a PhD from the University of Alberta and completed post-doctoral fellowships at Stockholm University and the University of Ottawa. She leads a program of research in early parent and child relationships with a focus on children at risk for developmental delays, including behavior problems.
Dr. Benzies has published over 70 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 40 technical reports, and 3 book chapters. She has given nearly 100 media interviews, and over 200 presentations to community groups, professional organizations, and at conferences.
In 2010, she received the Nursing Excellence in Research Award, the highest honor for nurse scientists in Alberta. In June 2012, she received a University of Calgary, “You Make a Difference” award in honor of her contributions to the undergraduate nursing curriculum. In 2013, she received the Westbury Legacy Award from the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research to recognize her commitment to the academic and professional growth of graduate students and community partners working in the areas of child, family and community research.
Dr. Benzies most satisfying accomplishments come from creating linkages among researchers, clinicians, and policy makers to improve the health and well-being of young children and their families.
Beverly Collisson, Ph.D. Co-Investigator
Beverly Collisson, PhD, is a clinician scientist whose program of research includes typical and atypical early language learning. She is especially interested in better understanding the language learning trajectories of toddlers who are late to talk and language treatment for preschoolers with language learning impairment. She joined the All Our Families team in 2011 as a postdoctoral fellow. She now divides her time between clinical practice as a speech-language pathologist and contributing language research to promote evidence-based practice.
Susan Graham, Ph.D. Co-Investigator
Susan Graham is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a registered clinical psychologist. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and previously held the Canada Research Chair in Language and Cognitive Development. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Cognition and Development. Her research and supervision were recently recognized with the Killam Annual Professor Award and the Izzak Walton Killam Award for Graduate Supervision and Mentoring. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba, she moved to Concordia University to complete her graduate studies. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1996. Her research focuses on language and cognitive development during the infancy and preschool years and is currently funded by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and an Insights Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Dawn Kingston, Ph.D. Co-Investigator
Dr. Dawn Kingston is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing and holds a Professorship in Perinatal Mental Health and Child Well-being at the University of Calgary, as well as a national New Investigator Award from Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her research focuses on improving perinatal mental health as one of the strongest, modifiable influences of child mental health and development. She and her team develop and evaluate approaches for screening and treating women who struggle with depression and anxiety during pregnancy. As a part of their work, Dr. Kingston’s team also studies the personal and health system barriers that women and their partners experience in obtaining mental healthcare. This research has influenced Ontario’s screening and surveillance system and Alberta Health Services’ direction in standardizing mental health screening in Alberta. Dr. Kingston’s team is also conducting studies to understand the mental health state and needs of women and men undergoing infertility treatment – a highly under-serviced group. The team enjoys collaborating with other experts worldwide as it seeks to improve women’s mental health and children’s outcomes globally. Dr. Kingston also values her strong collaborations with Alberta’s only women’s hospital, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, as she and her team implement and evaluate “scaled up” e-screening and e-therapy interventions in acute care areas, including the high risk antenatal unit, the postpartum units, and the regional infertility clinic. These acute care settings are Canada’s first to employ routine mental health screening and treatment. Dr. Kingston’s work also aims to understand the consequences of early adverse childhood experiences, particularly poor perinatal mental health, on child mental health and development. She is lead of the largest, most comprehensive study to date to understand resiliency in children. She and her team are seeking to answer the question of why some children are quite affected by early adversity (such as prenatal depression and anxiety, parental separation, bullying) and others are less so. This study will help us to develop interventions and support families to enhance their child’s resiliency so that their child can reach his/her full potential - physically, emotionally, and developmentally.
Shannon MacDonald, PhD, RN Co-Investigator
Shannon MacDonald is a pediatric nurse and public health epidemiologist whose program of research focuses on supporting immunization best practice, programs, and policy and promoting informed decision-making by parents. Shannon completed undergraduate degrees in zoology and nursing, followed by a Masters of Nursing at Memorial University of Newfoundland and a PhD at the University of Alberta. She has worked as a pediatric nurse and nursing instructor in Canada and the USA, and has participated in a number of international maternal-child health projects. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary and is collaborating with the Alberta Ministry of Health to assess vaccine safety and uptake and to determine the most effective way to promote uptake of childhood vaccines. In June 2016, Shannon commenced a tenure-track position in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. She is the slightly frazzled mother of two young daughters who remind her every day of the value of protecting our children’s health.
Sheila McDonald, Ph.D. Co-Investigator
Dr. Sheila McDonald is a Co-Investigator of the All Our Families Study. She is also a Scientist in Maternal Child Health in the Department of Research and Innovation, Population, Public and Aboriginal Health at Alberta Health Services, and an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Previous to this current role, Sheila was a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Calgary. She holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from McGill University (2009), with a specific focus on life course epidemiology and causal inference. She has extensive methodological skills in research methods, complex data sets, and longitudinal analysis, and content expertise in maternal mental health, birth outcomes, and child development. Her contributions to the field have included development of a psychosocial screening tool for poor maternal mental health using information in the prenatal period, and modeling the impact of life course stress and allostatic load on the risk for poor birth outcomes. Other interests and contributions include work on Adverse Childhood Experiences and childhood resilience. She is a co-investigator on a number of provincial and nationally funded research projects in maternal and child health and a co-lead on an AIHS funded CRIO team grant investigating child and family resiliency in the face of early life adversity. Sheila’s favorite past time outside of work is reading multiple novels at once and being a ‘soccer mom’ to her two children.
Deborah McNeil, RN BSc(Nurs) MN Ph.D. Co-Investigator
Deb received a BSc in Nursing from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an MN with specialization in neonatal care and PhD with specialization in epidemiology, both from the University of Calgary. Deb has a 25 year clinical background in Neonatal Intensive Care and has held research positions in maternal child health and population public health for the past 15 years. She has had an adjunct academic position with the University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing since 1990 and is currently Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing and in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Cummings School of Medicine. Deb is the Scientific Director for two Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs) in Alberta Health Services: the Population Public and Aboriginal Health SCN and the Maternal Newborn Child and Youth SCN. Deb also leads a team of Scientists and Research Associates who use integrated knowledge translation approaches to generate and translate scientific evidence of importance for Population Public and Aboriginal Health. She is a member of the O’Brian Institute of Population Public Health and an associate member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Deb has conducted research in early maternity discharge, newborn behavioural development, feeding problems in preterm infants and childhood obesity. Her current research is focused on perinatal depression and anxiety, measuring health inequities, childhood immunization, group pre and postnatal care, and survey data collection. She has expertise in a variety of research approaches including epidemiologic and qualitative research methods as well as synthesis and systematic evidence reviews.