Media releases

  • Brock University receives nearly $1 million in health research funding from CIHR

    MEDIA RELEASE: 26 November 2020 – R0178

    The federal government’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has awarded nearly $1 million in funding to two Brock University researchers.

    Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Antony Chum and his team are investigating key impacts of cannabis policy, two years after the Canadian government legalized the drug.

    Assistant Professor of Child and Youth Studies Matthew Kwan’s research focuses on children living with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), a neurodevelopmental condition that affects about five to six per cent of children.

    Kwan and Chum’s work is being funded by CIHR’s Project Grant Program, which supports individual researchers or groups of researchers in all areas of health.

    In total, Brock University received $952,424 in this year’s round.

    “We’re excited that CIHR has recognized the strength of these two research programs, the results of which will contribute great knowledge and insights into the impacts of cannabis legalization and the experiences of children facing developmental challenges,” says Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    In his research, Chum and his team will examine the increase in substance use-related hospitalizations, especially among youth, since recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada two years ago.

    They will also look at how Canadian cannabis policies can lead to better regulations of its use and potency, improve access of cannabis for chronic pain management, and may lead to substitution of more dangerous substances like alcohol and opiates.

    During his research on cannabis legalization, Chum and his team will investigate how different policies — ‘dry counties’ where there are no cannabis outlets, availability of edibles, the number of retail licenses issued, and other policies — account for differences in emergency department visits and hospitalizations in Ontario, Alberta and Yukon.

    “The 10- to 24-year-olds are most at risk for these kinds of emergency department visits,” says Chum. “Often they result in a big scare for the family, but usually they’re discharged without hospitalization; in a very minor number of cases it does lead to hospitalization but there haven’t been any fatalities.”

    He notes that in 2018, 11 per cent of substance use-related hospitalizations were due to cannabis in the general population. In those aged 10 to 24 years, 40 per cent of substance use-related hospitalizations were attributed to cannabis specifically.

    “Our research is really about trying to understand populations at risk and the factors that can reduce the risk for these vulnerable populations,” says Chum.

    People at higher risk for cannabis-related acute care include those living with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, those with a lack of access to primary care and Northern populations, he says.

    With his research on children living with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder, Kwan and his team will continue to follow a group of children recruited in an earlier study called Co-ordination and Activity Tracking in Children I (CATCH I). This study was initially led by Brock alumnus John Cairney (BA ’93), who is now Head of the School of Human Movement and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia.

    Children with DCD experience difficulties with learning tasks — tying shoelaces, playing ball and climbing stairs, among others — that require motor co-ordination. Many children end up with physical and mental health challenges.

    The CATCH II study will continue to assess changes to the children’s physical activity and fitness levels, but the focus will be on the development of mental health problems and the potential mechanism to support better mental health and well-being for children with DCD.

    The researchers will continue to follow the cohort of children over the next three-and-a-half years.

    “What makes our CATCH study really exciting is that we will be able to find out when children with DCD start to become less active and more susceptible to increased physical health risks,” says Kwan. “The continuation of funding by CIHR will enable us to really understand how DCD impacts the mental health and well-being of these children with a hidden disability.

    “Working with doctors, teachers and parents will help us make sure that we recognize kids with DCD as young as possible so they are able to get the right type of support, at the right time, before they become inactive, obese or present with mental health problems.”

    Approximately one to two children in every classroom in schools will have DCD, yet DCD is not often talked about, says Kwan.

    Brock University Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Antony Chum and Assistant Professor of Child and Youth Studies Matthew Kwan are available for media interviews.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Maryanne St. Denis, Writer/Web Editor, Brock University Marketing & Communications or 905-246-0256

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock recruiting Niagara parents to sit on innovative research committee

    25 November 2020 – R0177

    Brock University’s Lifespan Development Research Institute is searching for local parents to help with upcoming research initiatives.

    The Lifespan Institute is recruiting for a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), which will be made up of Niagara parents who would like to provide input on relevant research and knowledge mobilization work. This research will be focused on parents, families, children, youth and the local community.

    “The Lifespan Institute has always had deep roots in the community — in Niagara and beyond,” said Teena Willoughby, Director of the Lifespan Institute. “Engagement committees like this one help to create the space and opportunity for Brock researchers to better connect with the groups and community members that their research involves — gaining input and insights that are critically important to ensuring that our work is relevant and informed.”

    Members of the PAC will assist the Lifespan team in developing research ideas and strategies for sharing research findings, connecting with families in the local community and keeping the team informed about important matters affecting families in Niagara.

    Notably, the PAC will operate similarly to Lifespan’s Youth Engagement Committee, which is made up of local youth aged 14 to 24, and the Senior Advisory Committee, which consists of adult Niagara community members who are 60 years of age or older.

    Through these committees, and with the addition of the PAC, the Lifespan Institute creates an opportunity for the community to directly inform research in the Niagara region and facilitates a space for community members of all ages to have their voices heard.

    “The PAC will be extremely informative for researchers studying families in Niagara,” said Angela Evans, Associate Professor of Psychology and Lifespan Institute member. “Parents’ insights and experiences will help inform the questions researchers ask, how we connect with families in Niagara and how we share our findings.

    “We are hoping this advisory committee will help us build an even stronger connection between researchers in the Lifespan Institute at Brock and the local Niagara community, and improve our ability to place our research findings in the hands of parents who can use it.”

    Members of the PAC will meet with Lifespan Institute researchers and staff members about four times per year to review relevant projects and provide feedback. Until it is safe to do so, all PAC meetings will take place virtually on video chat.

    The Lifespan Institute PAC is looking for members who:

    • Are parents of children or youth.
    • Are residents of the Niagara region.
    • Demonstrate a strong interest in issues surrounding parents, children/youth and families.
    • Enjoy working collaboratively in groups.
    • Are willing to commit time to PAC activities, including meeting between three to five times per year and responding via email.
    • Are willing to serve a one-year term on the PAC.
    • Have submitted a completed PAC application package.

    To apply to be on the PAC, please complete the application form on the Lifespan website. Applications will be accepted until Friday, Jan. 8.

    Any questions about the PAC or the application process can be directed to

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases