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Dr. Jennifer McGrath

Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer McGrath Dr. Jennifer McGrath

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a serious problem in Canada. Incidence of the disease is on the rise, often resulting in disability or death. CVD is also a major cause of rising health care costs.

Although cardiovascular disease (CVD) is something we might associate only with older adults, it is an important health issue for children and their parents. CVD begins in childhood, showing up in early warning signs such as changes in a child's blood pressure, heart rate and weight, before progressing into clinical CVD in adulthood.

Dr. Jennifer McGrath, an Associate Professor in Concordia University's Department of Psychology has made it her mission to research the progression of cardiovascular disease risk factors along the developmental spectrum and assess community prevention efforts using public-health perspectives.  Dr. McGrath is Director of the Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab ( and holds the PERFORM Centre Chair in Childhood Preventive Health and Data Science.  She studies the impact of unequal incomes on health and how poverty, environment, behaviour, and lifestyle among children and teenagers can lead to heart disease in adulthood.

The early warning signs of CVD, which researchers call precursors, are an important part of Dr. McGrath's research. In particular, her team wants to know how CVD precursors are affected by a child's environment (neighborhood factors, school resources), behaviour (diet, exercise, sleep, lifestyle choices such as smoking), and psychology (stress, social support, methods of coping with difficult situations, and mood). Dr. McGrath is also interested in finding out why people who are of lower socioeconomic status (poverty, less education, limited occupations) are at a greater risk for having CVD.

"By better understanding how the precursors of CVD develop, and how they influence the development of the disease," says McGrath, "we hope to more accurately predict the risk of developing the disease in adulthood, and ultimately prevent the disease by helping to develop better interventions targeted at children and youth."

An expert in statistical modeling and a strong advocate for interdisciplinary public health intervention research, Dr. McGrath is forging a reputation for excellence in child health and health equity studies. She has an extensive network of collaborators at McGill University, Université Laval, Université de Montréal, the Directeur de santé publique Montréal, and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec.   For more on Dr. McGrath's lab, see

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