My research program aims at investigating how early-life adversity (e.g. stress, pain, inflammation, clinical treatments) affects the developing brain of very preterm infants, using an animal model that closely captures critical aspects of what preterm infants are like and what they may experience in the NICU. The use of preclinical models allows mechanistic studies on how exposure to early-life adversity alters the normal trajectory of brain development. This research, in turn, better informs clinical studies in preterm infants and the development of novel treatments to mitigate adverse effects from these exposures.

This work is motivated by my clinical nursing background as a paediatric clinical nurse specialist in acute pain, and builds upon my doctoral training in infant brain reactivity to pain (McGill University/Harvard University/Boston Children’s Hospital) and postdoctoral fellowship in pediatrics/neuroscience at UBC, as well as my recent work as a research scientist at Columbia University in the division of Developmental Neuroscience.


The international Perinatal Outcomes in the Pandemic (iPOP) study: protocol [version 1; peer review: 2 approved]
Sarah J. Stock and Helga Zoega and Meredith Brockway and Rachel H. Mulholland and Jessica E. Miller and Jasper V. Been and Rachael Wood and Ishaya I. Abok and Belal Alshaikh and Adejumoke I. Ayede and Fabiana Bacchini and Zulfiqar A. Bhutta and Bronwyn K. Brew and Jeffrey Brook and Clara Calvert and Marsha Campbell-Yeo and Deborah Chan and James Chirombo and Kristin L. Connor and Mandy Daly and Kristjana Einarsdóttir and Ilaria Fantasia and Meredith Franklin and Abigail Fraser and Siri Eldevik Håberg and Lisa Hui and Luis Huicho and Maria C. Magnus and Andrew D. Morris and Livia Nagy-Bonnard and Natasha Nassar and Sylvester Dodzi Nyadanu and Dedeke Iyabode Olabisi and Kirsten R. Palmer and Lars Henning Pedersen and Gavin Pereira and Amy Racine-Poon and Manon Ranger and Tonia Rihs and Christoph Saner and Aziz Sheikh and Emma M. Swift and Lloyd Tooke and Marcelo L. Urquia and Clare Whitehead and Christopher Yilgwan and Natalie Rodriguez and David Burgner and Meghan B. Azad and iPOP Study
DOI: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16507.1

Hippocampus, amygdala, and thalamus volumes in very preterm children at 8 years: Neonatal pain and genetic variation
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00051

Adverse behavioral changes in adult mice following neonatal repeated exposure to pain and sucrose
Frontiers in Psychology
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02394

Is near infrared spectroscopy valid for the detection of procedural pain in postoperative cardiac surgery intensive care unit adults?
Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy
DOI: 10.1177/0967033517730369

Repeated exposure to sucrose for procedural pain in mouse pups leads to long-term widespread brain alterations
DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000961

Neonatal Invasive Procedures Predict Pain Intensity at School Age in Children Born Very Preterm
Clinical Journal of Pain
DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000353

How do babies feel pain?
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.07552

Neonatal Pain and Infection Relate to Smaller Cerebellum in Very Preterm Children at School Age
Journal of Pediatrics
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.04.055

Early repetitive pain in preterm infants in relation to the developing brain
Pain management
DOI: 10.2217/pmt.13.61

Innovating in Pain Assessment of the Critically Ill: Exploring Cerebral Near-Infrared Spectroscopy as a Bedside Approach
Pain Management Nursing
DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2012.03.005

Internalizing behaviours in school-age children born very preterm are predicted by neonatal pain and morphine exposure
European Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2013.00431.x

Neonatal pain and comt Val158Met genotype in relation to serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) promoter methylation in very preterm children at school age
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00409

A multidimensional approach to pain assessment in critically ill infants during a painful procedure
Clinical Journal of Pain
DOI: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31826dfb13

Neonatal Pain-Related Stress Predicts Cortical Thickness at Age 7 Years in Children Born Very Preterm
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076702

Maternal Touch and Talk for Invasive Procedures in Infants and Toddlers in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Journal of Pediatric Nursing
DOI: 10.1016/j.pedn.2010.12.016

Cerebral near-infrared spectroscopy as a measure of nociceptive evoked activity in critically ill infants
Pain Research and Management

Toward a new approach for the detection of pain in adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery: Near-infrared spectroscopy—A pilot study
Heart and Lung: Journal of Acute and Critical Care
DOI: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2009.10.018

Incidence of self-limiting back pain in children following caudal blockade: An exploratory study
Paediatric Anaesthesia
DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2010.03365.x

Developing synergy to enhance the impact of nursing intervention research on patient health
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research

Interventions used in Emergency Departments (ED) for pain management of simple fractures in children
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007538

An acute pain service improves postoperative pain management for children undergoing selective dorsal rhizotomy
Paediatric Anaesthesia
DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2009.03184.x

Controlling bias in complex nursing intervention studies: A checklist
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research

Theoretical, Psychometric, and Pragmatic Issues in Pain Measurement
Pain Management Nursing
DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2007.12.001

Temperament and Pain Response: A Review of the Literature
Pain Management Nursing
DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2007.09.005

Current Controversies Regarding Pain Assessment in Neonates
Seminars in Perinatology
DOI: 10.1053/j.semperi.2007.07.003

Horner's syndrome following thoracic epidural analgesia in children: A report of two cases
Acute Pain
DOI: 10.1016/j.acpain.2006.05.001

Continuous axillary block for paediatric trauma patients who failed with PCA therapy
Acute Pain
DOI: 10.1016/j.acpain.2006.09.001


The role of neuroinflammation in early life pain/sucrose-induced neurodevelopment impairments

Brain-to-brain synchrony in mother-child and father-child dyads: a novel biomarker of brain development

Creating a Calmer NICU: Pilot Testing a Robot for Optimizing Brain Development in Preterm Infants in the NICU

Exploring the experiences of NICU mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic


Healthy Starts Catalyst grant (2021-2023)

Sheena Davidson Nursing Research Fund (2020-2022)

Research Group Members

Maria Jose Castro Babbini, Graduate Trainee
Fermin Hoq, Graduate trainee, Research Assistant
Mary Ibitoye, Graduate Trainee
Rujun Kang, Research Assistant/Lab Technician Level 4
Connie Ku, Graduate Research Assistant :Graduate Trainee
Olivia Moretti, Graduate student
Kudrat Mundi
Scott Ramsay, Graduate Student
Donna Seraj, Undergraduate trainee