INCHing Forward on Research into Children’s Healthy Development


Since 2008, a collaborative group of researchers from McMaster University has focused on the healthy mental and physical development of children and worked together from several makeshift offices across Hamilton. In late 2013, the INfant and Child Health (INCH) Lab was formed and officially launched its new space located at McMaster Innovation Park within the Department of Family Medicine on November 20th 2013 (coinciding with National Child Day).

The new INCH Lab provides a child-friendly space, with bright colours and welcoming staff, for studies on the healthy development of children (newborns to six years old) to take place. There is an inviting play area to look at children’s fine and gross motor skills through a series of fun games and tasks. The fitness testing area houses a treadmill and child-size bicycle, along with other tools to measure a child’s height, weight, heart rate, and body fat percentage.

The INCH Lab is under the direction of Dr. John Cairney, Professor with the Department of Family Medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Its purpose is to better understand development from the early years through to childhood, and into adolescence. As part of this purpose, a key focus of the research group is the design and evaluation of tools that can be used to determine whether a child is meeting his or her expected developmental milestones. The group hopes to generate valuable information that is also beneficial to the clinical setting. Dr. Cairney shares, “We are committed to working with government partners like the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, community agencies in Hamilton, and our family health teams to try and get the knowledge we develop here disseminated."

Several of the Lab’s community partners attended the grand opening, including representatives from Ontario’s Best Start program, City of Hamilton Public Health, school boards, and various Ontario Early Years Centres located within the greater Hamilton area. Dr. David Price, Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine with the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, is a core researcher with the INCH Lab. He welcomed the new Lab to the Department of Family Medicine by commending the hard work and progress of the collaborative group of researchers over the past 5 years. McMaster University’s Dr. John Kelton, Dean and Vice-President of the Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as Dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and Dr. Jean Clinton, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, Division of Child Psychiatry, were also key speakers at the launch.

With over $1.9 million in funding received from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the INCH Lab looks forward to working closely with its community partners and participating families to learn more about child health.


The launch of the INCH Lab was also featured on CHCH NEWS. Click the link below to see more!