Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative


News Release: Government of Canada announces investment of more than $40M in child health research

The prevalence of non-communicable diseases – including cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes and mental health issues – is on the rise.

To address this issue, CIHR has developed the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI), which is based on the concept that chronic disease in later life has its origins in the earliest years of life, i.e., that environmental factors interact with genes during conception, fetal life, infancy and early childhood, and that this programming affects the individual’s health later in life. Overall, the initiative is designed to promote the health of children and their growth and development into healthy adults through effective health policies and programs.

Researchers based in Canada, China, India, and South Africa and supported by the World Health Organization are forming teams. Together, they will lead studies of sample populations in the various countries to examine and compare the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

Indigenous HeLTI

In December 2017, CIHR will launch a process to bring together interested First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous communities for a workshop to discuss the development of an Indigenous component of the HeLTI initiative.

Funded Projects

Country Lead Canadian Investigator Project Total Funding Partner
Canada Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis
St. Michael’s Hospital and University of Toronto
A ten-year study that will follow families to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for childhood obesity and other modifiable risk factors for disease later in life. $17,018,637 Not applicable. Funded solely by CIHR
India Dr. Stephen Matthews
University of Toronto
This India-based team will investigate how exposures in the preconception period and during pregnancy, infancy and childhood impact life-long health and development in children. $4,856,925 Ministry of Science & Technology Government of India
China Dr. William Fraser
Université de Sherbrooke
A community-based, multi-centre randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of interventions to reduce overweight and obesity in one-to-six-year-old children in China. $5,500,000 National Natural Science Foundation of China
South Africa Dr. Stephen Lye
Sinai Health System (Toronto)
A project to test how to improve women’s health prior to and during pregnancy in order to reduce health challenges experienced by their children later in life such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and stunted growth. $5,027,500 South African Medical Research Council
Funding for previous projects (2015 – present)
Canada Dr. Isabel Fortier
Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
This project concerns the development of a web-based catalogue and harmonization platform that will allow the Canadian research community to access a rich trove of study data and samples to aid in their research into the origins of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental illness. $1,300,000 Not applicable. Funded solely by CIHR
Dr. Sonia Anand
McMaster University
(Hamilton, ON)
The goal of the project is to uncover the markers in the blood of pregnant mothers and their children that may forecast a child’s risk for developing diabetes and heart disease. $1,498,268
Dr. Sarah Kimmins
McGill University
The long-term aim of the project is the development of preconception advice for men that will lead to healthier children. $1,500,000
Dr. Michael Kobor
University of British Columbia
This research will test whether multiple sources of stress during pregnancy can predict a child’s mental health early in life and what some protective factors might be that can promote resiliency to the development of disease risk in children. $1,500,000
Dr. Deborah Sloboda
McMaster University
(Hamilton, ON)
This study asks the question, how is that exposure to an obese environment (i.e., excess adipose) in utero gives rise to children who are destined to become obese? $1,499,870
Dr. Ashley Wazana
Jewish General Hospital
A study of subjects in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Singapore to develop a model to attempt to predict anxious and depressive psychopathology in early adolescence. $1,496,217

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