Rebecca Pillai Riddell, Ph.D., C.Psych
Room 2006 Sherman HSRC
Phone: 416-736-2100 x 20177
Dr. Pillai Riddell's interest in the caregiver-child relationship began as an undergraduate student at York University and has continued through her graduate research training career at the University of British Columbia, Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto. She currently is involved with three primary lines of research and participates in the leadership of other programs with colleagues from across the country.
First, she started studying the influence of parental and infant factors on early childhood pain reactivity and regulation over the first years of life through her work with the OUCH Cohort in 2007. To our knowledge, this is the largest cohort of its kind in the world with York collaborator David Flora and pediatricians Saul Greenberg and Hartley Garfield. This research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research through salary awards to the OUCH team and two CIHR Operating Grants (2007 to present) and Ontario Ministry of Innovation Early Researcher Award (2007-2011). Major infrastructure and equipment maintenance are currently being funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario Research Fund (2013 to present). Initially, this research followed a cohort of 760 infants from three different regions in the Greater Toronto Area at their 2, 4, 6 and/or 12 month immunizations with a small sub-sample of these infants (N=130) being followed at Sick Kids for a formal attachment assessment. Finally, we recently completed data collection on the most ambitious wave yet, where these cohort children were being followed-up at their preschool immunizations (4-5 years of age; n = 302), and a broad assessment of cognitive, psycho-social, and academic functioning at the OUCH lab (n=170). The last major set of publications is due out in 2019 and will examine preschooler pain behaviours and formal measurement of preschooler attachment. A number of insights have been generated that has informed evidence-based practice in vaccination pain such as our work with Anna Taddio’s (University of Toronto) Helpin Kids and Adults Clinical Practice Guidelines for vaccination pain (which had practices integrated by the WHO Vaccination group; http://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/early/2015/08/24/cmaj.150391.full.pdf) and an intervention strategy for parents (The ABCD’s of Pain Management; https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/43/3/224/4628082). We are grateful to be currently collaborating with Black Creek Community Health Centre and Kindercare Pediatrics to develop more effective evidence-based practices to improve the care of young children in pain during primary care. The OUCH Lab team is also proud to be a part of unique collaboration led by Mount Sinai neonatologist Vibhuti Shah to create a clinical practice guideline in collaboration with the Canadian Pediatrics Society to improve acute pain management within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Her work with the OUCH Cohort deepened her interest in more fundamental scientific questions related to the mechanisms subsuming the development of children’s pain and non-pain related distress responding. Dr. Pillai Riddell received her first NSERC grant (2015-2020) to begin a more fundamental program of research examining the dynamics of behavioural and physiological distress regulation (mother and child) in both painful and nonpainful contexts during the second year of life with Dr. Louis Schmidt (McMaster). Recognizing that the key to optimal infant pain assessment will be through distinguishing pain-related and non-pain related distress using multi-modal assessment, Dr. Pillai Riddell was delighted to take up an invited visiting professorship at University College London in 2018 to work with Dr. Maria Fitzgerald, funded by the International Association for the Study of Pain’s Collaborative Research Grant and the UCL Global Explorations Fund. This collaborative work with the Fitzgerald Team seeks out to better understand caregiver influences on the cortical responses of infants in pain and, in conjunction with the Wang Team at York University, to develop an AI algorithm that is able to optimally distinguish pain in preterm infants.
In addition, The OUCH Lab is proud to be one of the primary lab affiliates of the Pain in Child Health international Strategic Network. It grew from a multi-million dollar national multidisciplinary CIHR Pain in Child Health Strategic Training Program that Dr. Pillai Riddell was co-PI and co-chair of the management committee with Dr. Jennifer Stinson. Due to a new leadership role in late 2017 (Associate Vice-President Research, York University), Dr. Pillai Riddell had to step down as co-leader of the PICH leadership committee.