Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF) - Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development

The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) and BC Children’s Hospital are pleased to announce that Dr. Michael S. Kobor has been appointed as the Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development. Dr. Kobor is a world-leading expert in the field of social epigenetics, researching how diverse early life experiences affect human development and influence children’s health, learning and behavior. 

Dr. Kobor’s chair will be co-located at the HELP, School of Population and Public Health at UBC, and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children at BC Children’s Hospital. Building on the work of Drs. Clyde Hertzman and Thomas Boyce, Dr. Kobor’s research program will expand our understanding of the mechanisms and processes by which biological embedding occurs – how experience gets “under the skin” to influence lifelong health and wellbeing. Combining the individual strengths of HELP, Sunny Hill and BC Children’s, Dr. Kobor’s vision is to create “child-sized made in BC solutions with global impact”.

Dr. Kobor and his team will map the biological trajectories of healthy child development across the population at the molecular level. This will serve as the basis to understand the distinct trajectories of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Furthermore, the molecular child development map will provide a unique knowledge base for evidenced-based interventions. Together, these three arms of the research program will serve as the cornerstones of an interdisciplinary training and mentorship program in child development.

Dr. Kobor’s research at HELP and BC Children’s offers the unique opportunity to advance our understanding of the biological underpinnings of child development by combining the extensive clinical research capability at BC Children’s and the extensive child population health data at HELP. This work is integral to the foundations of the research conducted at HELP, connecting our population level research to the biology of early child development and furthering our understanding of the social epigenetics. HELP is contributing to new understandings and approaches to early child development across the early life course using a bio-ecological approach that focuses attention on the family, neighbourhood, social, economic and policy factors that might explain differences.  

Dr. Kobor’s Leadership Chair research program will be overseen by a Steering Group with representatives from HELP, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, the UBC School of Population and Public Health, and the UBC Department of Pediatrics.

The Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development is made possible thanks to the generous funding from the Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF) with contributions from BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Donald Rix Foundation and the Koerner Foundation.


Dr. Michael S. Kobor Background:

Dr. Michael S. Kobor is a Professor of Medical Genetics at UBC and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics.  A Senior Scientist at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT), Dr. Kobor serves as Theme Lead for Healthy Starts at BC Children’s Hospital. Dr. Kobor is an Investigator with the Kids Brain Health Network NCE, a co-lead of the Gene X Environment Platform of the AllerGen NCE, and a Senior Fellow in the Child and Brain Development Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).

LEEF Chair Background:

The Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF), which is managed by the BC Innovation Council on behalf of the Government of British Columbia, was established to attract world-class researchers to B.C., promote economic growth and job creation, strengthen the province’s position as a centre of excellence in research, and promote the unique roles that B.C. universities and colleges play in innovation in B.C.

The Government of British Columbia launched the Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF) in April 2002 to encourage social and economic development in BC. Using a cost-sharing partnership with the private sector, LEEF helped to establish 20 permanent Leadership Research Chairs at public, post-secondary institutions across the province in the areas of medical, social, environmental and technological research. The Fund also established 9 Regional Innovation Chairs to create opportunities in communities through BC's colleges, universities and institutes.