Giving families the tools to care for children affected by Zika

Intern from Brazil investigates therapies for parents to raise children with developmental disorders

Thousands of kilometers away in Halifax, Canada, Mitacs Globalink intern Lisandra Oliviera is working with a team of researchers at the IWK Health Centre to conduct a systematic review of intervention therapies for parents of children with disabilities similar to microcephaly – a family of conditions known as neurodevelopmental disorders. The parenting intervention includes an “orientation” for family members to develop their parenting skills in ways that will help with management of symptoms and improved mental health for the children.

The researchers hope to use the findings in the development of an online tool to provide intervention therapies to families with children who have neurodevelopment disorders, especially those in rural or remote areas.

Lisandra hopes her research can have an impact in her home country of Brazil:

We will be sharing our findings with researchers from Brazil; [we] hope that they can use them to help families with children that have microcephaly because of Zika virus.”

She continues, “This research is really important to me because I want to help these families, and to give their children better lives because of the findings.”

After one month in Halifax, Lisandra already has many good things to say about her experience: “This internship is giving me an opportunity to work toward my career goals and to grow as a person. I am working with people who are really good in their research, and want to do their best to change children’s lives for the better. And I really like it here in Canada – Halifax is a safe and beautiful place!”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support Globalink, including Universities Australia, the China Scholarship Council, Campus France, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord. 

Photo: (2004) Evolutionary History of a Gene Controlling Brain Size. PLoS Biol 2(5): e134. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020134 used with permission via Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY).

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities:


Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. By driving economic growth and productivity, we create meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.