Paola Luca, MD, FRCPC, MSc is a Pediatric Endocrinologist and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Alberta Children’s Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary. There is no doubt that she will be quite busy as she works on three of the seven studies Team ABC3 will be conducing over the next 5 years: 1) Predictors of treatment initiation for children with Severe Obesity referred for tertiary-level management of obesity, 2) Does integration of health coaches improve adherence to an e-health lifestyle and behavioural intervention? A randomized controlled trial of LiGHT (Living Green, Healthy, and Thrifty), and 3) STOMP Early Years: A pilot randomized controlled trial of an intensive, family-centred, home visiting intervention for young children with severe obesity.
How did you become interested in childhood obesity research?
I developed an interest in childhood obesity during my pediatric residency training at the Hospital for Sick Children. My interest was confirmed during my pediatric endocrine fellowship; during this time I participated in the SickKids Team Obesity Management Program (STOMP) clinic with fellow Team ABC3 investigator Dr. Jill Hamilton and went on to complete a Master of Science with Dr. Hamilton during the last two years of my fellowship that focused on child and adolescent obesity. My thesis involved evaluating outcomes from the STOMP program. Throughout this time, I had the opportunity to attend the STOMP programming, and see first-hand the work of the multi-disciplinary team.
What are your specific research interests?
One of my ongoing interests is evaluating pediatric lifestyle programs and finding ways to improve outcomes and adherence. I am also interested in motivation and readiness to change, and ways to increase these factors.
Can you describe your role on the research within Team ABC3?
I have been working as a pediatric endocrinologist for two years and I am a new investigator on Team ABC3. I feel fortunate have the opportunity to work with the team!
What do you hope to gain from participating with Team ABC3?
I know that I will learn a lot from participating with Team ABC3! I hope to gain further skills and knowledge in clinical research, and am excited to work with researchers with such expertise in this field. I am also hoping to gain knowledge that we can put into clinical practice in each of our respective centres.
To date, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your own research on childhood obesity? Your biggest success?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is finding measures to evaluate certain outcomes in pediatric weight management, such as nutrition and physical activity. Another challenge is finding a balance between running a clinic and collecting all the data that one would like to analyze.
What is one (or more!) thing your Team ABC3 colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy running with my husband, and we recently ran a few relay races. In March we ran the 2-person San Diego Half Marathon Relay, and in June we ran the 10 person Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay Race.