KITE researcher named Canada Research Chair in Swallowing and Food Oral Processing

Senior scientist Dr. Catriona Steele says she is honoured to have been recognized as a world leader by her peers.

KITE senior scientist Dr. Catriona Steele has been named the Canada Research Chair (Tier1) in Swallowing and Food Oral Processing.

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) directly supports emerging and established researchers across health, engineering, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities disciplines, and enhances research excellence in Canada.

Tier 1 Chairs are granted to outstanding researchers who are acknowledged by their peers as being world leaders in their fields.

Dr. Steele leads the Swallowing Science team at KITE and is a professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto and is the President-Elect of Dysphagia Research Society. The aim of Dr. Steele’s research is to help people who have lost the ability to swallow.

“It is a great honour to receive a CRC award, which recognizes both the value and importance of research regarding swallowing impairment” said Dr. Steele.  

“The ability to swallow food and drink is something that most of us take for granted, and an activity that is central to social interactions – whether that be a morning cup of coffee, faith-based rituals, or annual festivals like Thanksgiving,” she said. 

“However, swallowing impairment (dysphagia) is remarkably common in many age-related disease and injury processes, and has a significant impact on health, quality of life, and healthcare costs.”

A major focus of Dr. Steele’s research is focused on establishing reference values for an x-ray assessment of swallowing known as a videofluoroscopy. 

These reference values will act as a guide for clinicians to more confidently determine when and how a person’s swallowing function is different from the pattern expected in healthy people. 

Dr. Steele will receive $1,400,000 of funding for salary support over seven years.

Approximately $134 million was awarded in the latest round of CRCP funding to support 157 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 35 Canadian research institutions. 

Dr. Steele is one of 14 scientists at UHN to receive CRCP funding this round.