The work of Shaun Morris, a clinician-scientist at SickKids, is guided by a particular credo: “Right now, where a child is born largely determines his or her risks for infection, malnutrition, lack of education, and dying. I believe that health is a human right and should be independent of where one is born and lives.”
Morris is an expert in infectious diseases. He focuses on low-cost interventions to prevent infections and improve outcomes for children in resource-poor settings. He is currently involved in a study examining the effect of vitamin D on the incidence of viral respiratory infections in Bangladesh. He hopes to show that improved vitamin D levels in infants can decrease viral infections at a particularly high risk period of their lives — the first six months. If confirmed, this finding would have important implications in preventing childhood diseases not only in low- and middle-income countries like Bangladesh, but also in Canada.
“Though the settings are different, biology is essentially similar in children all over the world. Discoveries in one place can often be adapted to another,” explains Morris. “An excellent example is oral rehydration therapy, which has saved millions of lives in low-income countries. Now, a variation of this therapy helps to treat children with severe diarrhea here in Canada.”
Morris points out that malnutrition remains one of the main causes of child mortality around the world. “Malnourished children and children with certain micronutrient deficiencies are significantly more susceptible to many infectious diseases and poor long-term health outcomes,” he says. “Solving the problem of child malnutrition is one of the most important steps in improving child mortality around the world.”
Improved caloric intake and micronutrients are key factors in preventing infectious diseases and better health outcomes for children. This is why Morris thinks that working together with experts in nutritional sciences at the Lawson Centre will be invaluable for his own work. “Also, partnering with those from the worlds of industry and policy will be critical to scale up any new interventions,” he says.
“My goal is to play a small role in ensuring that children born in low- and middle-income countries have the same access to health and opportunity as a child born in Canada.”
At a glance:
Shaun Morris, MD, MPH, FRCPC, FAAP, DTM&H
- Newborn and child mortality
- Tropical infectious diseases
- Community-based trials
- Children’s travel medicine
- Verbal autopsies
In the Media
- Innovative ideas for saving lives get a leg up (Toronto Star: April 29, 2013)
- Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
- Adjunct Professor, Division of Global Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
- Clinician-Scientist, Division of Infectious Diseases, Hospital for Sick Children
- Honourary Scientist, Centre for Global Health Research, St. Michael's Hospital
- Phone: 416-813-7654 x 6625
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Shaun’s profile on SickKids website for more information.