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Image of Pursuit Award star-shaped trophy
In pursuit of groundbreaking childhood disability research

Every spring, clinicians and researchers from around the world come together to celebrate the latest and greatest in childhood disability research.

The annual Pursuit Awards reward top young researchers in a variety of different fields for their intellectual rigour, creativity, and commitment to kids and youth with disabilities. Three finalists are chosen to present their research to a panel of researchers, family leaders, and senior leadership. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s events took place online.

Following the 2022 Pursuit Awards, we chatted with this year’s winners about what this award means to them.

First place: Dr. Caitlyn Gallant, Department of Psychology at York University

Dr. Caitlyn Gallant is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at York University. She completed her PhD at Brock University in 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Dawn Good.

Dr. Gallant’s community-oriented research practices seek to improve treatment and reintegration for kids and youth with brain-based challenges and co-occurring mental illness. Her research involves working with community mental health agencies and organizations like Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO). In her work with CMHO, Dr. Gallant supports care providers who work with kids and youth with developmental disabilities and mental health needs.

What does winning a Pursuit Award mean to you?

I am truly honoured to be recognized for my research contributions within a field that I am passionate about. I feel privileged to be acknowledged among my colleagues and to be a recipient of the award alongside two other fantastic researchers, Dr. Mah and Dr. Braden. I look forward to continuing my research in the Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Lab at York University, and working with Dr. Jonathan Weiss and Children's Mental Health Ontario (CMHO). I hope that my research will have an impact on and ultimately, improve services and outcomes for kids and youth with disabilities.

Second place: Dr. Katherine Mah, Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University

Dr. Katie Mah is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Faculty of Health Science at Western University. She is also a former nurse and a registered occupational therapist. Dr. Mah completed her PhD in 2020 at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Nick Reed. She first learned about the Pursuit Awards while a trainee at the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) from 2013-2016.

Dr. Mah leverages her interdisciplinary background in her current research exploring how young people understand concussion recovery. Her doctoral work employed drawing and semi-structured interviewing methods. Dr. Mah’s innovative arts-based research is helping to shape concussion care, research and education. 

What does winning a Pursuit Award mean to you?

Since beginning my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, and being a trainee at the BRI, I have been inspired by the Pursuit Awards, the caliber of the awardees, and the innovation of the research. I vividly remember talks by past Pursuit Award finalists Dr. Coralee McLaren and Dr. Yani Hamdani, hoping to one day produce similarly rigorous critical qualitative research. Winning this award is a reflection of the hard work put in by so many to get me here, including my doctoral supervisor, Dr. Nick Reed, committee members, mentors, and of course, my family.

I’m excited to continue to engage young people through creative research methods in ways that have implications for concussion-related services and supports across sectors.

Third place: Dr. Ruth Braden, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Ruth Braden is a speech pathologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. She completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2021 under the supervision of Professor Angela Morgan and Professor Ingrid Scheffer.

Dr. Braden’s research investigates the relationship between genes, the brain, and behaviour, and looks at the genetic and neural bases for speech and language disorders. By understanding the cause of speech and language disorders, Dr. Braden’s research seeks to improve treatment, and provide targeted, individualized therapies. In her research, Dr. Braden has championed client- and family-centred care by working with international parent support groups to recruit study participants and communicate her findings.

What does winning a Pursuit Award mean to you?

I am really honoured to be awarded this prize in recognition of my PhD research. It is wonderful to see my work in our relatively small speech and language field recognized by an international institute such as Holland Bloorview, which provides such great leadership and advocacy in the childhood disability space. It’s also fabulous recognition for all the individuals and families who provided their time and energy participating in my research, who I am very grateful for.

Congratulations to this year's recipients!

Missed the June 1st event? Watch the 2022 Pursuit Awards competition on demand.

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