We help when it hurts.

Pain is an inevitable part of childhood. At Alberta Children's Pain Research Lab, we study how children's and parents' cognitions, emotions, and behaviours shape pain experiences over time. We work closely with an interdisciplinary team of clinicians and scientists in Calgary and around the world who are committed to understanding why pain becomes a problem for some children but not others and looking for ways to improve child pain treatments and the lives of families that pain touches.

We focus our research on cognitive and behavioural factors that we can directly change in psychological interventions. These factors include pain memories, attention, sleep, and how parents and children talk to each other about pain following painful events. We believe that treatments for child pain can be improved and pain can even be prevented from becoming a problem in the first place.

We also know that children do not suffer pain alone. Our research studies include parents, and seek to understand how parents' own cognitions and behaviours around their child's pain interact with those of the child to shape pain experiences. As parents are the most powerful intervention agents in their children's pain management, changing the way parents think, remember, feel, and respond to their child's pain can dramatically improve how their children experience pain.

We conduct our research within a dynamic, interdisciplinary clinical milieu at the Vi Riddell Pain Program at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary Alberta, amongst the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

 

 

 

 

We help as a team.

 
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Dr. melanie Noel

Dr. Melanie Noel is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Calgary and a full member of the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute. She teaches and supervises within the CPA-accredited Clinical Psychology Graduate Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary. Her behavioural research lab is based within the Vi Riddell Children's Pain and Rehabilitation Centre at Alberta Children's Hospital.

After completing an MSc in Experimental Developmental (Child) Psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dr. Noel completed a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Dalhousie University under the mentorship of Dr. Christine Chambers in the area of acute pain. She completed her pre-doctoral residency in clinical psychology (child track) at the University of

Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Children's Hospital. Following residency, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric (chronic) pain research under the mentorship of Tonya Palermo, PhD in Seattle, Washington. 

Dr. Noel's research expertise is in the area of children's anxiety and pain memories as cognitive-affective mechanisms underlying trajectories of pediatric pain. The overarching aim of her research is to understand and harness the influence of cognitive-behavioral factors, like pain memories, on children’s pain trajectories using developmental frameworks. Her interests cover the areas of acute (e.g., painful medical procedures, experimental pain in the lab) and chronic (i.e., pain lasting for at least 3 months) pain in a variety of clinical and healthy populations (e.g., vaccination, venipunctures, surgery, chronic pain, emergency care). Her clinical interests include child clinical and pediatric psychology populations, with particular interest in the intersection between children's physical and mental health.

When she isn't at her lab at Alberta Children's Hospital, Dr. Noel is at her "lab" at home: She is the proud mother of 3 young children. 

Education:

  • BSc in Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • MSc in Experimental Psychology (Child Development), Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • PhD in Clinical Psychology, Dalhousie University
  • Clinical Child Internship, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Pain Research, Seattle Children's Research Institute

 

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Maria Pavlova - Research Coordinator

Maria joined the lab all the way from Saint Petersburg Russia. On route, she studied Mandarin in Beijing, management in Edinburgh, and launched careers in London. She came to Calgary to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a Psychologist, and for pancake breakfasts with a mountain view.

Maria is fascinated by the relationship between mind and body, psychopathology and physical health, and by therapeutic approaches that tackle that relationship. Photography, yoga, and literature take up her time when she’s not busy running the lab while also examining chronic pain in kids and its connection with mental health disorders.

Education:

  • BA Hons in International Relations, Saint Petersburg State University, 
  • MSc in Management, University of Edinburgh
  • BA in Psychology, University of Calgary

 

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DR. Jill Vinall - Post Doctoral Fellow

Co-supervised with Dr. Nivez Rasic

Jill is from the southern most tip of Canada. From there, she earned a BA Hons in Psychology at York University, where her thesis explored the role of culture in maternal soothing and the expression of infant pain. The fact that she earned an honours degree while also working two jobs and three volunteer positions is just one example of Jill’s determination and drive.

Her PhD at UBC examined the Impact of repeated invasive procedures during neonatal intensive care on brain microstructure, growth, neurodevelopment and behaviour in children born very preterm. The focus of Jill’s postdoctoral training is the neuroactivation patterns underlying the co-occurence of chronic pain and PTSD in youth. Her long-term goal is to support a program of research at the University of Calgary and Alberta Children's Hospital that translates research findings from the bench to bedside, in order to develop evidence-based interventions to manage acute and chronic pain in infants and children.

Education:

  • BA in Psychology, York University
  • PhD in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia

 

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Lauren McCallum - Research Assistant

Lauren is a Calgary native, and recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (BA Hons) at U of C. The experience of conducting her honours thesis study examining Supportive Expressive Group Therapy for women with gastrointestinal cancers showed Lauren how rewarding research can be. She is inspired to pursue her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology along her interests in psychopathology, pediatrics, adolescents, psychopharmacology, and the connections between the brain and behaviour.

Lauren is passionate about animals and one day hopes to adopt a dog. She practices yoga internationally, and enjoys hiking, running, Tex-Mex cuisine and traveling to places with more humidity than Calgary.  

Education:

  •  BA  in Psychology, University of Calgary

 

 

Sabine Soltani - PhD Student

Sabine’s interest in psychology was sparked by intro psychology classes she took while completing her BA in 2007. After working in communications for several years, Sabine returned to school and earned her BA in Psychology (First Class Honours) in 2014. She is now in the process of completing her MA in Clinical Psychology under the supervision of Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton at the University of Regina.

Sabine’s research has broadly focused on attentional biases, cognitive factors, and dispositional constructs underlying psychopathology. Her clinical experience working with individuals with chronic pain fuelled her interest in the complex interplay of bio-psycho-social factors and how they influence and maintain the experience of chronic pain. 

Education:

  • B.A. in Communications Studies, University of Calgary
  • B.A. in Psychology (First Class Honours), University of Calgary
  • MA in Clinical Psychology, University of Regina
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Alex Nevill - MA Student

Alex grew up in and around Toronto and earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Guelph. After graduating, she spent four years as a psychosocial oncology researcher at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children where she investigated the impact of childhood cancer diagnosis on children and their families.

Alex has particular interest in understanding the individual perspectives and experiences of children in order to help them cope with illness, painful procedures, and hospitalization through improved clinical care.

When not researching ways to help kids feel better, Alex raises seizure response and autism guide dogs, volunteers for children affected by childhood cancer, runs, does yoga, travels, and treats socializing like a sport.

Education:

  • BA in Psychology, University of Guelph