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Canadian Campus Newswire


November 22, 2006

Source: University of New Brunswick - Fredericton

Nicole Letourneau, a professor of nursing at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, has been named Canada’s Premier Young Researcher by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Dr. Letourneau was presented with the Peter Lougheed/CIHR New Investigator Award at the fifth annual Canadian Health Research Awards ceremony in Ottawa, Nov. 22.

"This is a truly remarkable achievement," said Greg Kealey, UNB’s vice-president (research). "Nicole’s deserved recognition reflects well on UNB’s health and wellness research agenda, on the faculty of nursing, the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, and the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy at UNB."

The Peter Lougheed/CIHR New Investigator Award is CIHR’s most important career development award. It is given only to Canada’s brightest young researchers at the beginning of their careers.

"This five-year, $500,000 award represents an important incentive for young researchers, such as Dr. Letourneau, to pursue their work in Canada," said Alan Bernstein, president of CIHR. "Our continuing success as a nation will depend on our ability to attract and retain top scientific talent."

Through this award, which is co-funded by the Peter Lougheed Medical Research Foundation, former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed continues his legacy of championing health research in Canada.

"It is a great honour to be able to bring this award to my home province of New Brunswick," said Dr. Letourneau. "This award allows me to utilize and build on the tremendous capacity and excellence of New Brunswickers. I will be able to attract and support talented students to do research in child development.

"It will also provide more resources to work with our community partners in promoting the best start for kids. I really want this research to improve the lives of New Brunswick’s children and families."

Dr. Letourneau’s research focuses on the link between early care-giving experiences and children’s development. She designs and tests interventions to promote the healthy development of vulnerable children, particularly those who are exposed to domestic violence or whose mothers suffer from depression.

Her findings will help policy-makers and social-program-delivery organizations to implement effective interventions that will allow children to overcome a poor start in life and help to create healthy adults.

A 1991 UNB nursing graduate, Dr. Letourneau went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing from the University of Alberta. In 2003, she received the Outstanding New Investigator in Research Award from the Canadian Association for Nursing Research and the Alumni Horizon Award for early achievement from the University of Alberta and was invited to be a New Investigator of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The following year, Dr. Letourneau received the CIHR Regional Partnerships Program New Investigator Award. Over this period, she married another New Brunswicker, engineer Dean Mullin, and became the mother of two boys.

"My husband and I came home to New Brunswick because we wanted our children to be close to their family," explained Dr. Letourneau. "For me, healthy children equal a healthy economy. I want New Brunswick to be a place where all New Brunswick children can stay and thrive."

A member of the CIHR’s Institute of Gender and Health Advisory Board, Dr. Letourneau has received a Harrison McCain Young Scholars Award for 2006-07. She will also take up the Canada Research Chair in Healthy Child Development at UNBF on June 1, 2007.

The Canadian Health Research Awards are among the Canadian research community's highest honours. They are hosted by CIHR, in collaboration with the Health Charities Coalition of Canada, Research Canada, and Canada’s provincial health research organizations.

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Sandra Howland, Public Relations Officer (506) 458-7968



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