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Expanding children’s research

New leader at the helm of the Janeway Pediatrics Research Unit


By Michelle Osmond

Dr. Leigh Ann Newhook has been appointed as the new director of the Janeway Pediatrics Research Unit (JPRU).

Dr. Newhook is a pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics and clinical epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine. She earned a bachelor of science in 1989, a bachelor of medical science in 1991, her doctor of medicine in 1993 and a master of science in clinical epidemiology in 2004, all from Memorial University.

Faculty of Medicine, pediatric research, Janeway
Dr. Leigh Anne Newhook has been appointed director of the Janeway Pediatric Research Unit
Photo: Jennifer Armstrong

She has many accolades under her belt, including the Dean’s Research Excellence Award (Mid-Career) from Memorial in 2013/2014 and the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Outstanding Health Care Professional for 2012, among many others.

Accomplished career

Dr. Newhook has big plans for the JPRU including advancing pediatric research, increasing the JPRU’s profile and expanding the summer student research teaching program. Later this spring, the unit will hold a strategic planning day, Identifying Next Steps for Advancing Pediatric Research. She’s also working with Eastern Heath’s Department of Research and Innovation to develop a pediatric clinical trials unit to facilitate the Janeway’s participation in clinical trials.

“Increasing our research capacity is going to be important on so many levels, especially for the children and families we care for.”

Dr. Newhook, who started her new role in December, has been a general pediatrician and clinician-researcher at the Janeway Children’s Health Centre for two decades. She has worked with the pediatric research leadership team as the associate chair of pediatric research within the Discipline of Pediatrics since the opening of JPRU in 2011.

Her research has focused mainly on Type 1 diabetes and infant feeding, which has advanced local and provincial lobbying efforts to improve health care and services for families in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Increasing capacity

“Research is a powerful tool that allows us to document, quantify, communicate and address health problems and improve population health. Research has resulted in substantial progress in child health over the past 10 years, but many problems remain to be tackled,” Dr. Newhook noted. “Increasing our research capacity is going to be important on so many levels, especially for the children and families we care for.”

The Janeway Pediatric Research Unit (JPRU) serves as a nexus for pediatric research being conducted at Eastern Health’s Janeway Hospital and the Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine.

Faculty and staff associated with the unit conduct clinical and applied health research, with over 40 active projects on a range of childhood diseases including in the areas of diabetes, rheumatology, childhood obesity, oncology, emergency medicine, gastroenterology, neonatology, genetics, autism, neurology, breastfeeding, arthritis, pediatric Crohns’ disease, medical education, eating disorders and vitamin D insufficiency.

The director is appointed by the dean, vice-dean and associate dean of clinical research within the Faculty of Medicine.

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