HALO Scientist Dr. Patricia Longmuir is the recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Salary Award. There are 40 such awards given out each year to Canadian researchers who are within the first 5 years of their career (after completion of training). The award provides funding of $60,000 per year for 5 years towards Dr. Longmuir’s salary as an independent scientist. The support will enable her to lead her research program, LIFFE and Health for Young Children with Congenital Heart Defects (LIFFE = Learning, Independence, Friendships, Fitness, and Emotional Health).

Here is a summary of Dr. Longmuir’s research program:

My innovative research uses physical activity (PA) to provide health benefits to children with heart problems (cardiac kids). 90% of cardiac kids now live to adulthood, changing our focus from “keeping them alive” to “helping them thrive”. Cardiac kids are less active than their peers, 1/3 to 1/2 have learning disabilities and they are 3 to 5 times more likely to experience anxiety, depression and behaviour problems. PA can effectively improve these important health problems but we need to know which cardiac kids are at highest risk. My 5-year research plan is built on the foundation of my previous research, which developed an accurate measure of children’s physically active lifestyle capacity and used it to evaluate cardiac kids. We created simple tasks so doctors can identify inactive children, and 13 new resources to enhance the PA support doctors provide. Over the next 5 years I will focus on 3 projects to enhance the health of cardiac kids. We will measure PA and motor skill among young cardiac kids (1-5 yrs) so we can better predict which children will need extra support. We will evaluate PA as a treatment among older cardiac kids (5+ yrs) by assessing their need for PA information during each clinic visit and evaluating the impact of family-based PA programs. Our 3rd project will support doctors and nurses at clinics across Canada to implement the American Heart Association recommendations regarding PA counselling for cardiac kids, which I authored with colleagues in 2013. By measuring PA impacts and studying how PA can be enhanced, my research will improve both current and future health for cardiac kids. The national network of patients, families and clinicians that I lead (Cardiac Kids LIFFE Network) will enable my research to benefit cardiac kids in 10 clinics across 6 provinces. My CHEO collaborations enable the transfer of our results to benefit children coping with other chronic conditions. My research fits the priorities of four institutes within CIHR.

Congratulations, Pat!