Psychology Professor Heather Prime wins Mitacs-Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award

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Heather Prime
Heather Prime

To mark the 100th anniversary of Frederick Banting and Charles Best’s historic discovery of insulin, the Banting Research Foundation has partnered with Mitacs to double the number of Banting Research Foundation Discovery Awards it could present this year. Amongst those recognized with the jointly funded award is Heather Prime, assistant professor in York University’s Department of Psychology, for her study evaluating an innovative program to help families recover from the pandemic, with the aim of reducing child mental health problems by strengthening relationships and reducing conflicts in families.

The Banting Research Foundation Discovery Award is a one-year grant of up to $25,000 for innovative health and biomedical research projects by outstanding new investigators at universities and research institutes in Canada who are within the first three years of their first academic appointment. This year, 12 investigators – 50 per cent of whom are women – have been awarded the grants, the intent of which are to provide seed funding so that applicants are able to gather pilot data to enhance their competitiveness for other sources of funding.

“Since 1925, the Banting Research Foundation has been a unique, talent-spotting organization,” said Catharine Whiteside, Chair of the Board of the Banting Research Foundation. “Our mission is to fund young investigators, the future Banting and Bests, at the beginning of their careers when they have a bold idea with potential for having a major impact on improving health. On behalf of the Banting Research Foundation, I would like to congratulate our new awardees and wish them well on their pathway to discovery.”

Prime joined the Department of Psychology in York University’s Faculty of Health as an assistant professor and clinical psychologist in 2020. Her research program uses a family-based approach to understanding and supporting child and youth mental health from an early age. Her focus is on understanding how family relationships and real-time interactions impact a child’s well-being, and the ways families can come together to show resilience in the face of adversity.

“I am so pleased to receive this Mitacs-Banting Discovery Award,” Prime said, “which will support our research team to help children and their families recover from the stressors of the pandemic.”

At present, Prime is part of several initiatives aiming to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families, as well as to develop evidence-based approaches to supporting recovery during this time.

“Families have experienced unprecedented levels of stress, and through this project we hope to strengthen family relationships and as such children’s mental health during and after the pandemic,” she said. “SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health provides wonderful services to support child and youth mental health. I am grateful to have this partnership with them so that we can work together to enhance access to evidence-based care.”

About the Banting Research Foundation

The Banting Research Foundation has been identifying young rising stars in health science across Canada since 1925, and mentoring them the way insulin-discoverer and Nobel laureate Sir Frederick Banting was encouraged.

To date, the foundation has supported 1,341 young health and biomedical researchers across the country (totalling $8.3 million) through its annual Discovery Award Program.

The foundation’s alumni have gone on to secure major research funding, make outstanding discoveries, and have emerged as Canada’s leaders and luminaries in medical science.