Women and Children's Health Research Institute

Research brings a healthier, brighter future

Your support for the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute tackles the three three closely related areas of women’s, children’s and perinatal health.

Project Overview

The Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI), a partnership between Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta, was established in 2006 to help close the gap in research focusing on women and children.

  • 70 per cent of medicines prescribed to children have not been tested for use in children
  • Research shows many serious chronic health conditions begin early, including in pregnancy
  • Women have unique health needs and their physiology means they experience illnesses differently and metabolize medicines differently than men

The Women and Children’s Health Research Institute is the only institute in Canada to tackle all three closely related areas of women’s, children’s and perinatal health. It brings a multidisciplinary approach to tackling complex health issues. Examples of research supported by the institute include:

  • Treating heart disease in newborns 
  • Personalizing chemotherapy treatment in breast cancer
  • Determining the causes of childhood asthma
  • Treating incontinence in women

Research at Work

At her 34-week pregnancy check up, Geniene Korrall’s ob-gyn easily found her baby’s heartbeat, but the routine test took longer than last time. Worry started to gnaw at Geniene. Finally, the doctor met her gaze. “The baby’s heart is beating too fast,” she told Geniene. It should have been beating between 120 and 150 times per minute, but was galloping at 280.

“I didn’t sleep much that night,” Geniene says. The next morning she went to the perinatal clinic at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Geniene was admitted, and soon met Dr. Lisa Hornberger. She and her baby became the beneficiaries of top-level research.

As Hornberger looked at Geniene’s test results, she recognized the signs of SVT, supraventricular tachycardia. “In this condition, the baby’s heart beats faster than you can tap out with your finger,” she explained to Geniene. Fluid in his chest and abdomen suggested his heart was starting to fail.

Hornberger had already studied SVT, and her research and clinical trials, supported with funding through the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, created new treatments. She prescribed medications to slow the baby’s heart.

Her research enabled her to fine tune the heart drugs, slowing the baby's heart without harming Geniene’s.

Geniene Korrall with her son Jake – Women & Children’s Health Research Institute

Happy Endings

Baby Jake was born at full term, with a strong heartbeat, and today he is a healthy baby who takes medicine daily for his SVT, which he may outgrow. Prior to the type of treatment  Geniene received, more than half of SVT babies died before birth. “Now the survival rate is over 95 per cent,” Hornberger says.

The Impact of Your Donation

Research supported by the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute saves lives and gives hope. Today 450 members working on scores of projects, with core funding from  the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

We know that healthy pregnancies lead to healthy children and adults. How a child develops in his or her first 2,000 days of life predicts long-term health.

A gift to the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute today invests the health of tomorrow’s adults.

The institute attracts world renowned researchers and contribute to the development the field, making breakthroughs that lead to better diagnoses, new treatments and new best practices.

How to Help

Donations to the Women and Children's Health Research institute at the University of Alberta will be invested in three areas:

  • Funding research in all aspects of women and children’s health from earliest development through every stage of the life-cycle.
  • Recruiting leading researchers and training the next generation of researchers to strengthen capacity.
  • Providing research services such as data management and patient recruitment to help research advance faster.

Investing in research adds up to better care today, including new treatments for health conditions that impact women and children. Patients are living longer, healthier lives because of the advances made at the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, making a difference to people every day.

Make a brighter future happen

Your gift to research will create better care outcomes for women and children in Alberta and create new best practices that will spread around the world.


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