Program Overview

The Child Health and Human Development Program (CHHD) was created after collective reflection in several key areas. Since early life events and factors have the potential to dictate lifelong human health, it is essential to increase our understanding of these factors in order to develop novel detection methods and therapies. Besides needing to learn more about genetics and developmental processes, we are now starting to see that early environmental factors may modulate epigenetic changes that can affect health changes decades later. Chronic childhood disease also plays a role in cognitive and identity development, underlining the need to amalgamate the strengths of researchers in many disciplines into a single, unified program. The CHHD Program therefore builds on four main themes that study different aspects of child health and human development: 

  • Human reproduction and development 
  • Molecular and cellular determinants of child health 
  • Neuropsychological and vision health
  • Health outcomes in childhood disease.
Program Leaders and Manager

Daniel Dufort, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Medicine at McGill University. His research interests focus on elucidating the embryo-uterine communication that is required for successful implantation of the embryo. His laboratory uses molecular, embryological and genetic approaches to identify the signaling pathways and their roles in the implantation process. Currently funded by research operating grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Foundation of Stars, his work has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals and featured in the mainstream press. He supervises numerous graduate students and has delivered invited lectures around the world.

Meranda Nakhla, MD, M.Sc., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Her research program focuses on the organization and delivery of healthcare services to children and youth with type 1 diabetes. She also conducts studies to better understand the transition process from pediatric to adult diabetes care. These studies aim to identify the healthcare needs of children and youth with type 1 diabetes and ultimately help to inform care providers and policy-makers how best to deliver diabetes services for young adults, including transition care. Her work has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals and her research is currently supported by operating grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Fonds de recherche du Québec─Santé and Canadian Diabetes Association.

Naima Abbadi, PhD, earned her doctorate in human genetics from the Faculty of Medicine at l’université Nancy-II, France, and an MBA from the Université du Quebec à Montréal. She completed postdoctoral training in genomics at Case Western University (Cleveland, USA). Having held positions in academia, industry, and provincial and federal government, she brings to the CHHD Program more than 18 years of experience in academic research, innovation management, technology evaluation and strategic partnership.