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2022 Pursuit Awards 

Holland Bloorview’s Bloorview Research Institute recognizes outstanding PhD students and recent alumni each year for their exemplary contributions and achievements to the field of childhood disability research through the annual Pursuit Awards International competition.

Each year, some of the country and world’s top young minds apply to the prestigious award competition, showcasing their research and its impact in pediatric disability.

This year, the competition was held on Wednesday, June 1st through Zoom.

Congratulations to our recipients this year!

  • Dr. Caitlyn Gallant, York University, first place recipient ($3,000)
  • Dr. Katie Mah, Western University, second place recipient ($2,000)
  • Dr. Ruth Braden, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, third place recipient ($1,000)

Event Recording:

Missed the live event? You can watch the recording as well as the individual research presentations here.

The annual Pursuit Awards are made possible through the generosity of The Ward Family Foundation, Holland Bloorview Foundation donors and the Bloorview Research Institute.

Event Agenda

9:00 am  Welcome Remarks
  • Dr. Tom Chau, Vice-President of Research, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Director of the Bloorview Research Institute
  • Allan Marriage, Senior Manager, Philanthropy and Legacy Giving, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation
9:15 am 

Keynote Address +live Q & A

  • Dr. Jennifer Stinson, Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Pain Management, Research and Education at the Hospital for Sick Children
9:50 am 

Finalists Presentations + live Q & A

  • Dr. Caitlyn Gallant, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Psychology, York University, Canada
  • Dr. Ruth Braden, postdoctoral research fellow, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  • Dr. Katie Mah, postdoctoral associate, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, Canada
10:10 amAwards Ceremony
10:30 amEvent Wraps


The competition will feature a keynote address from Dr. Jennifer Stinson, a renowned expert in child health and chronic pain management. Dr. Stinson is the co-director of the SickKids Centre for Pain Management and professor at University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. Her keynote is titled: ‘Accelerating Paediatric Pain Research to Adapt to Pandemic Demands: Lessons Learned from Digital Health.’

Full Biography

Dr. Jennifer Stinson is the inaugural Mary Jo Haddad Nursing Chair in Child Health in the Research Institute, a Nurse Practitioner in the Chronic Pain Program, and Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Pain Management, Research and Education at the Hospital for Sick Children. She is also a Professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Stinson’s clinical work focuses on working with children and youth with chronic pain and their families as part of an interdisciplinary pain team in the Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine at SickKids. Her major clinical research interests are in the area of pain and symptom management and the use of e-health (internet) and m-health (mobile phones) technologies to improve the assessment and management of pain and other symptoms in children with chronic illnesses.

Dr. Stinson also focuses on interprofessional pain education, which is demonstrated in her leadership in innovative training programs (Pain in Child Health - initially funded by CIHR, Co-I from 2009 to 2015; University of Toronto Centre for Study of Pain) and Pediatric Project ECHO at SickKids (PI funded by MoH), which provides virtual mentorship to community healthcare providers on the management of complex pediatric pain patients. Her innovative program of digital health research has been recognized by numerous awards including CIHR Peter Lougheed New Investigator Award, and early career awards from Canadian Pain Society and International Associate for Study of Pain Childhood Pain SIG.

Her keynote is titled: ‘Accelerating paediatric pain research to adapt to pandemic demands: lessons learned from digital health’

1st Place Recipient: Dr. Caitlyn Gallant


Dr. Caitlyn Gallant recently completed her doctoral studies in Psychology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at York University, focusing on ways to improve our understanding and treatment of children and youth with brain-based challenges (e.g., neurodevelopmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury) and co-occurring mental health needs.

Caitlyn received her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec and completed her master’s in Psychology at Brock University. Throughout her graduate studies, she was fortunate enough to be supported by a CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship, a Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology, a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and an IODE Canada War Memorial Scholarship, and had the opportunity to conduct meaningful research in the community. For example, she conducted her doctoral research with Pathstone Mental Health, a community-based mental health agency in the Niagara region, and is currently collaborating with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) to learn more about the knowledge, attitudes, and training needs of mental health and autism providers across Ontario.

Caitlyn has  assisted children and adolescents with diverse neurocognitive profiles through a neuropsychology placement in the mental health unit at the St. Catharine's hospital and has engaged in a number of knowledge mobilization initiatives to communicate her findings to knowledge-users. Through her research, she hopes to facilitate community reintegration and improve service pathways to better care for children and youth with brain-based challenges.

Caitlyn’s research presentation today is titled "Understanding the Complex Mental Health Challenges of Children and Adolescents Seeking Community-Based Care."

VIDEO: Learn why Dr. Gallant is excited to be a finalist in this year's Pursuit Awards.

Second Place Recipient : Dr. Katie Mah


Dr. Katie Mah is a Postdoctoral Associate, co-supervised by Dr. Gail Teachman (Assistant Professor, Western University) and Dr. Barbara Gibson (Senior Scientist, Bloorview Research Institute). She is also a trainee with CRED (Childhood Rehabilitation Ethics Disability lab) at Western University, CDARS (Critical Disability and Rehabilitation Studies unit) at Bloorview Research Institute, and VOICE: Views on Interdisciplinary Childhood Ethics at McGill University. Katie completed her PhD in the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto, where she was supervised by Dr. Nick Reed.

Drawing on Katie's background in nursing and occupational therapy, and her lived experience of concussion, Katie’s research aims to disrupt conventional ways of thinking and knowing about concussion and young people, while challenging clinicians and researchers to (re)imagine concussion education, care, and research. Using critical arts-based research methods, Katie’s doctoral work explored how young people ‘at risk’ of and living with concussion thought about and acted upon encountering concussion, and how these thoughts and actions were shaped by pervasive societal ways of thinking and knowing about concussion and young people. For this work, she was awarded the Joan Eakin Award for Methodological Excellence in a Qualitative Dissertation, by the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research at the University of Toronto.

Using multimedia storytelling methods, Katie’s postdoctoral work builds upon her doctoral work to explore how recovery following concussion is discursively understood by young people. She is supported in this work by Postdoctoral Fellowships sponsored by Mitacs Elevate and Western University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Katie’s research presentation is titled ‘“Freaked out” by pediatric concussion: an exploration of drawing and interview data produced by children ‘at risk’ and living with concussion.’

VIDEO: Learn why Dr. Mah is thrilled to be a finalist in this year's Pursuit Awards.

Third Place Recipient: Dr. Ruth Braden


Dr. Ruth Braden is a speech pathologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Her research primarily focuses on elucidating gene-brain-behaviour relationships, by refining the speech and language phenotypes of children with genetic and neural pathologies. Ruth’s PhD was awarded by The University of Melbourne in May 2021. Prior to her PhD, Ruth graduated from the Master of Speech Pathology at The University of Melbourne, with first class honours. In 2012, she completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Anatomy and Physiology.

Ruth has published lead author papers about the speech and language abilities of individuals with the cortical malformation polymicrogyria, as well as several rare genetic conditions including FOXP1 disorder, SETBP1 haploinsufficiency disorder and DYRK1A syndrome. She has also contributed phenotyping work to larger Next Generation Sequencing studies. Ruth has experience as a lecturer and tutor for The University of Melbourne Master of Speech Pathology course, and has held clinical speech pathology positions working with children and adolescents with intellectual disability. Ruth has made considerable contributions to the speech pathology profession, including being President of the Speech Pathology Alumni Association of The University of Melbourne for three years. Ruth is passionate about increasing the understanding of the features and prognosis of childhood speech and language disorders, in order to lead the development of targeted therapy approaches, and improve outcomes for children and families.

Ruth’s research presentation is titledExploring the aetiology of child speech and language disorders: genes, brain and behaviour.’

VIDEO: Learn why Dr. Braden is excited to be a finalist in this year's Pursuit Awards.

Application Process for the 2023 Pursuit Award

Applications for the 2023 Pursuit Award will be open on February 24th, 2023


We encourage you to apply if your PhD research is focused on pediatric disability and you are a:

  • Current PhD student (less than six months away from defense); OR
  • Postdoctoral trainee (within one year of receiving PhD); OR
  • Recent graduate (within one year of receiving their PhD).


Finalists are evaluated based on significance of research results, methodological rigour, empirical content, and impact and relevance to the field of childhood disability.