VHA Announces Junior Researcher Development Award Winners for 2019

VHA Announces Junior Researcher Development Award Winners for 2019

VHA Home HealthCare developed the Junior Researcher Development Awards to offer mentorship and funding opportunities for young researchers who have an interest in studying and advancing evidence in home care. This year we received a lot of strong applications, and are pleased to announce our three winners.



Alla Yakerson holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Toronto in Physical Therapy. She is currently a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the School of Health Management at York University. Alla’s research interests include access to health care services and pain management, and she is particularly interested in fair access to home care services in Ontario. As a practicing physiotherapist, Alla focuses on scientifically proven methods and research that make treatment more effective.


Alla’s research at VHA will focus on improving experiences for unpaid caregivers by developing an educational tool to train on proper safety techniques while providing care.



Kristina Smith is in her fourth year of doctoral studies in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, where she is completing a joint degree with the Joint Centre for Bioethics. Kristina’s research focuses include the depth of human pain, suffering, illness, paediatric care, bioethics and narrative ethnography.


At VHA Kristina will explore the experience of waiting for a transplant at home as a form of suffering for paediatric transplant candidates. Her research will inform how homecare resources and policies can improve and ensure that families receive safe and effective care. This research is aligned with VHA’s research focus on children with complex medical needs.


Todd Tran is an occupational therapist working at Women’s College Hospital. He is pursuing doctoral studies in the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Rehabilitation Therapy in the Aging and Health Stream at Queen’s University.


Todd’s research work with VHA will study the impact of mindfulness on cognitive impairment in older adults. Todd aims to demonstrate that mindfulness may be an effective strategy for adults in community dwellings to reduce psychosocial concerns, promote satisfaction in performance and support aging.

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