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Centre for Complex Childhood Diseases

Physiological Research Unit (PRU)

The PRU (Physiological Research Unit) of the CFI-funded Centre for the Study of Complex Childhood Diseases (CSCDD) is a specialized clinical research facility designed for research studies of both healthy children and those with long-term health issues and/or disabilities.  To ensure the safety of research subjects, the PRU is staffed with skilled and experienced Registered Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Exercise Physiologists and Technicians.  It is also located in close proximity to SickKids in-patient units and utilizes clinical services as required.

The PRU houses various activities to service clinical research needs at SickKids. There are clinical investigation rooms where RNs perform and collect information on anthropometry, body composition, oral glucose tolerance testing, therapeutic infusions, nasal potential differences, etc on all ages and stages across the life cycle.  An Infant Pulmonary Function Laboratory, a service which is unique to SickKids, specializes in a variety of lung function testing in children from infancy to early childhood.  

The PRU also contains a state-of-the-art Exercise Medicine Research Laboratory for the measurement of cardiopulmonary function, muscular strength and power, activity monitoring,  etc. The dedicated space plus equipment for research purposes only, has enabled us to perform quality, prospective research in children within the strict time constraints of research protocols.  Admission to the PRU requires approval and/or funding from such agencies as Health Canada, the REB, CIHR, NIH, Industry, etc. 

Services Include:

  • General patient assessment and treatment procedures such as growth measurement, specimen or blood collection, administration of medications and monitoring of vital signs
  • Specialized Metabolic Testing including:
    • open circuit calorimetry under hood (measurement of O2 uptake and/or CO2 production)
    • respiratory quotient
    • resting energy expenditure
    • bioelectrical impedance
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing for research studies, including assessments of:
    • pulmonary function
    • maximal aerobic power (max VO2)
    • steady state or progressive exercise cardiac output
    • running economy (treadmill)
    • anaerobic power (sprint bike)
    • body composition (skin fold, bioelectric impedance)
    • development of new exercise testing techniques (e.g. an exponential CO2 rebreath technique to allow progressive exercise testing) and collaboration and planning for research studies involving cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal interactions in childhood disease
  • Infant Pulmonary Function Testing
  • Nasal Potential Difference Testing
  • A research kitchen which is used for the preparation of experimental diets, either food-based, or chemically based. The food preparation area includes a fridge, microwave, analytical balance and blenders.

LOCATION : Suite 5500, Hill Wing
The unit also operates a virtual PRU so our staff and equipment can conduct research studies in the research patient’s clinical area.  

Hours of Operation:
• Typically 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Evenings and weekends, with prior arrangements
• Overnight studies cannot be accommodated in the PRU on 5 Hill Wing; however, alternative arrangements can be made. Contact the PRU to arrange overnights.

CONTACT INFORMATION                                            

To begin the process of application to carry out data collection in the PRU, please contact:

Assessment and procedure rooms, research nursing staff,  research kitchen
Karen Chapman
416-813-7654 ext. 6121
Email: karen.chapman@sickkids.ca
Hill Wing, Room 5526

Cardiopulmonary Exercise laboratory
Jane Schneiderman
416-813-7654 ext. 204407
Email: jane.schneiderman@sickkids.ca
Hill Wing, Room 5522

Infant Pulmonary Function
Renee Jensen
416-813-7654 ext. 2232
Email: renee.jensen@sickkids.ca
Hill Wing, Room 4529A

Nasal PD
Julie Avolio
416-813-7654 ext. 5515
Email: julie.avolio@sickkids.ca
Hill Wing, Room 8509

Medical Director
Dr. Felix Ratjen
Email: felix.ratjen@sickkids.ca
Hill Wing, Room 4534

Scientific Director
Dr. Martin Post
Email: martin.post@sickkids.ca