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Dalhousie students win prestigious grant for pediatric pain research

A pair of Dalhousie University students have been named winners of a prestigious national research award.

Britney Benoit of Antigonish and Perri Tutelman of Vancouver study at the IWK Health Centre's pediatric pain research department. Each has been presented with Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, worth $50,000 a year for up to three years of research.

These are considered Canada's most prestigious awards for doctoral students and post-doctoral fellowships, and were handed out at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Ottawa last week.

Britney Benoit

Britney Benoit of Antigonish, N.S. (Hilary Hendsbee Photography)

Benoit, 28, is a nursing PhD student. The funds will allow her to attend medical conferences while she continues research studies at Dalhousie and the IWK. She also will use the funds to continue her study on the influence of breastfeeding and procedural pain in newborns.

"This recognition gives me a wonderful and rare opportunity to dedicate all my focus and energy on my doctoral research and training," Benoit said.

"That really follows my passion for improving the care of newborn infants and their pain."

Benoit will be able to focus her research on real-life situations that arise during painful procedures on infants in the hospital.

"What we'll specifically be doing is measuring their response on EEG [electroencephalogram], while they have this painful procedure, while they're breastfeeding with their mothers," Benoit said.

"We're hoping to determine if this breastfeeding intervention will reduce the pain response in the baby's brain on EEG."

Perri Tutelman

Perri Tutelman of Vancouver. (Amy Wiliams Photography)

Tutelman, 23, is doing a PhD in clinical psychology, and was recognized for her study of pediatric pain and its impact on the parents of young children.

"We know about 20 per cent of children experience chronic pain," Tutelman said. "It's quite distressing for the child, but in recent years there's been a greater appreciation for the impact it has on the wider family."

Most of the research Tutelman has worked on to date deals with school aged children between eight and 18.

"Our goal is eventually to be able to develop and implement and test interventions for families that have a child with chronic pain," Tutelman said.

"We hope we can improve their functioning and their way of life and how they cope in school."

Full article here.

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