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Ronald G. Barr

Ronald Barr’s recent research initiatives have been in pursuit of understanding the important influences of mother-infant interaction in early infant development. Consequently, he and his colleagues have been studying how maternal contact and taste contribute to reduced pain response to painful procedures in infants; how maternal breastfeeding during immunizations contribute to “breastfeeding analgesia”; and how feeding in the first days and weeks of life enhances normal newborn infant memory for spoken words. A CIHR review of the latter study described it as one of the most substantive findings on infant memory in the last 40 years. All of these studies have as a common theme the idea of understanding what are referred to as “hidden regulators” of infant physiology and behavior, “hidden” in the normal interaction between mothers and infants. Barr is the architect of the Period of PURPLE Crying program that was developed with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in the United States. It is now the most widely used prevention program in the United States and Canada and is undergoing jurisdiction-wide trials of effectiveness in British Columbia, Canada and North Carolina.


Pediatric Chairs of Canada Academic Leadership Clinical Investigator Award, 2014.

Canada Research Chair, Community Child Health Research, 2010-2017.

Adjunct Professor, Pediatrics, McGill University

Founding Program Director, CIFAR program in Child & Brain Development

Ambulatory Pediatric Association's Research Award, 2001.

Relevant Publications

Barr RG. Preventing abusive head trauma resulting from a failure of normal interaction between infants and their caregivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), October 2012, Vol.109 (Suppl.2): 17294-17301. PMID: 23045677.



Associate Fellow Child & Brain Development

Founding Program Director Child & Brain Development


University of British Columbia, BC Children’s HospitalChild and Family Research Institute


MDCM McGill University

MA (Philosophy) University of Toronto

BA (Philosophy and Mathematics) Bishop's University



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