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Research projects at the University of Calgary

Participate in research at the University of Calgary

Researchers from across the University of Calgary have ongoing research projects into child development. 

For more information on other research programs at the University of Calgary please visit 

Research participation at the University of Calgary 

 
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The Brain Gut Connection

Investigating the connection of the gut microbiome and neurodevelopmental disorders. This study enrols children age 5 to 18 years old with tics, Autism, ADHD, or Obsessive Compulsive disorder and an unaffected sibling to investigate the relationship between bacteria in the gut and symptoms severity. 
Contact Beatrice Anghelescue bamanghe@ucalgary.ca (403) 210-7542
This study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board REB17-0693

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Optimizing the Management of Pain and Irritability

in Children with Severe Neurological Impairments

Children with diseases affecting the nervous system often experience pain and irritability due to unknown causes. Sometimes the source of pain and irritability can be identified through careful physical examination, lab tests and imaging. Many times, however, examination reveals no obviously correctable source for pain and irritability.

We will see patients from age 6 months to 18 years who are neurologically-impaired, non-verbal and have unexplained pain and irritability for which there is no identified cause. 

The focus is on developing an improved stepwise approach to pain management. No experimental treatments are involved in this study. Participants will be working with a dedicated MD/RN team during the time that they may be following the Pathway.

Children can be referred through the website www.paindetectives.org , pain.detectives@bcchr.ca , or 604 875-2000 ext 6909. 

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Body Image in Adolescents with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience feeding and eating problems (e.g., picky eating, sensitivity to food textures, eating disorders), but it is not fully understood why. Body image (how someone thinks and feels about their body) plays an important role in eating disorders. This study aims to understand how teenage females with autism experience body image compared to their peers without autism. We will also examine how body image impacts eating and weight-control behaviours (e.g., dieting, exercise) in teens with and without ASD.


Teenage girls (aged 12-17) and a parent/guardian will be asked to complete a brief phone screening and fill out online questionnaires about their eating behaviours, thoughts, and feelings about their body. Time commitment is approximately 90 min.

This study has been approved by the conjoint health ethics board REB20-0190.

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Characterizing Suicidal Ideation and Behaviours in Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Suicidal thoughts and behaviours (STBs) are exceptionally common in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is currently no way for us to accurately measure suicide risk in this ASD, which often results in inappropriate and ineffective treatment. We also don’t know very much about why STBs occur in this population.


This will be the first study to describe STBs in children and youth with ASD. This study will also examine the relationship between sleep disturbances and STBs in this population.

Participants: Caregivers of persons with autism aged 7-24


Participation in this study includes:

  • An online survey that takes 20-30 minutes to complete. This survey will ask about the child’s past and current STBs as well as risk factors (e.g., sleep problems, stressful life events, bullying, and mental health issues). If the participant’s child has not experienced STBs, they will be asked about their access to services

  • After the survey, participants will be sent an invitation to complete a daily sleep diary each day for 1 week that will ask what time the child went to bed, what time they woke up in the morning, and whether they seemed fatigued or refreshed that day.

  • Participants that consent to be contacted for follow up will be invited to participate in an in-depth interview about their child’s STBs

This study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Research Ethics Board REB19-1108

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Examination of sensorimotor and executive function in children with ASD and ADHD using the KINARM

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have difficulty with sensory processing, repetitive movements, and motor coordination. We don’t fully understand the cause of these difficulties. We want to examine sensorimotor control (relating to both sensation and movement) and executive function (managing oneself and doing things such as setting goals) in children with ASD and/or ADHD.

We will do this by doing a robotic assessment of arm movement in the KINARM robot. Parents will be asked to complete questionnaires about behaviour, skills, and medical diagnoses.

 Children must be 6-18years old with no muscle or bone injuries that would impair movement, and able to understand the instructions. 

If you are interested in participating on this study please contact Kara Murias (403) 441-8411

This study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (REB19-0168).