Dr. Barbara Cifra graduated cum laude from medical school at “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy, and completed her residency in Sports Medicine, focusing her training in cardiology and exercise physiology. As a trainee, she worked in the Medical and Surgical Paediatric Cardiology Unit at Bambino Gesu’ Children Hospital in Rome, studying how the different types of physical activity impact heart function in children with acquired and congenital heart disease. While in Italy she also had the unique opportunity to work with the first league soccer team in Rome (AS Roma) and the Italian National Rowing team. Elite athletes represent an exceptional research model for understanding how the cardiovascular system remodels when exposed to intense exercise.
From 2012 to 2016, she has been working as a research fellow in the Echocardiography Laboratory in the Labatt Family Heart Centre where she developed the Exercise Stress Echocardiography Program. Dr. Cifra uses exercise stress echocardiography to detect early signs of cardiac dysfunction in children with heart problems. The importance of her research is the possibility to identify through stress echocardiography children who might benefit from earlier interventions or change in medical treatment.
Due to her expertise in paediatric cardiology and exercise physiology, in 2017, Dr. Cifra has taken on the responsibility of developing and leading the Exercise Medicine Program, which will focus on healthy lifestyle plan and exercise recommendation for children with heart disease.