Dr. Tim Oberlander is a Developmental Pediatrician, physician-scientist and the R. Howard Webster Professor in Brain Imaging and Child Development, Dept of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at UBC. As a clinician he is the medical lead for the Complex Pain Service at BC Children’s Hospital and has a particular interest in managing pain in children with developmental disabilities.
Using both cohort and population level data, Tim’s research is driven by a curiosity to answer questions about how early life experiences related to maternal mental health affects a child’s capacity to regulate stress and contributes to the early origins of social, emotional, and academic well-being and physical health across the early lifespan.
Tim’s work bridges developmental neurosciences and community child health and is guided by a perspective that child development is comprised of a wide variation in outcomes that extend well beyond categorical disease phenotypes.
His work provides strong evidence that exposure to both prenatal maternal mood disorders and treatment with antidepressants both influence child behavior in ways that reflect a remarkable capacity for plasticity, showing that even in the face of adversity, some children do very well. The goal of Tim’s work is to understand how and why this happens and identify modifiable factors that can optimize developmental health.
In early 2020, faced with the challenges of in person research during COVID-19 pandemic, Oberlander pivoted his research away from lab-based data collection to reach out to engage families and children in real world research in the world where they live their daily lives. Since 2021, he has co-led the Living Lab at Home (LLAH) project at BCCH, offering an innovative platform for longitudinal in-home data collection that provides researchers, clinicians, and families with the tools to collect a variety of data over long periods via a smartphone app, stress biomarkers found in saliva, and measures of daily physical activity. LLAH allows us to use real-world data to overcome barriers typically faced by child health research and provides an approach to increasing equity and accessibility for research among underrepresented populations. In this sense the LLAH offers a novel approach to answer pressing questions in child development using methods that are both feasible and acceptable and engages parents and their children across the developmental spectrum to co-design research in an everyday in-home setting.
Tim has an undergraduate degree in History (BA Hons) and completed his medical studies (MD) at Queen’s University, his pediatrics training at Montreal Children’s Hospital and fellowship training in Developmental Pediatrics and Pain Medicine at McGill University and Harvard University.