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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 

 

Research Projects

Sleep and Problem Behaviours in Children with Autism

Many children with Autism have difficulties with sleep. Sleep difficulties have been linked with irritability, and mood difficulties. We would like to learn more about how sleep difficulties and Autism symptoms relate to problem behaviours in children. 

We are recruiting children age 6-12 years of age with Autism Spectrum Diagnosis. Parents will answer questions online relating to Autism symptoms and behaviour difficulties. We will then mail the family an actigraphy device to wear for 7 days and a sleep diary to complete while the child is wearing the device.  

This Project Has Been Approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research EthicsBoard (REB21-1601). 

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Mind Wandering in Children with ADHD

The objective of our study is to explore the association between mind wandering and executive functions in children age 8-12 years old with ADHD. Executive functions include inhibition, working memory, and attention shifting. This study involves the completion of questionnaires and three cognitive tests. 

This study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint health ethics board CHREB22-0384.

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Understanding Camouflaging and Identity in Autistic Children and Youth Using Photovoice

We hope that this research will provide evidence of camouflaging behaviour in children and youth, and supply rich descriptions of this phenomenon from those with lived experience. This study will use photography to scaffold a deeper sharing of thoughts and provide a voice to participants that may struggle to communicate their thoughts verbally. 


Children age 8-12 years will have the opportunity to be creative and actively participate in the generation of new knowledge that can enhance our understanding of their experiences. They will be invited to share their photographs and their stories in a community presentation, which may be intrinsically rewarding for participants with lived experience.

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Taylored psychobiotics: A microbiome biobank for mental health research

The purpose of this biobank is to collect stool, urine, saliva and blood (optional) samples and clinical data in order to study the microbes present in the gut in participants who have different mental and neurological disorders at 6 month intervals. Samples will be taken every 6 months for 2 years. How the microbiome changes over time and how that relates to mental health symptoms will be studied to inform possible treatment options.

Individuals ages 5 years and over with mood disorder (depression and bipolar disorder), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Eating Disorders or panic disorder are eligible.

The study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (REB21-0808). 

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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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