A well-known thought leader once declared that “curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness”, and no quote rings truer in the case of Dr. Kelly Larkin-Kaiser, Senior Consultant at Medlior Health Outcomes Research in Calgary.
Dr. Larkin-Kaiser owes her love of research to her natural curiosity and the challenges she finds in trying to understand complex health issues. More importantly, Kelly is passionate about being involved in pursuits that lead to the betterment of health care for everyone.
As a Senior Consultant, Dr. Larkin-Kaiser combines health research experience with clinical expertise to deliver projects with meaningful results. She has a broad research background that spans athletic therapy, applied sports medicine, muscle physiology and biomechanics. However, her journey to this level of expertise was not an overnight success story. It began with her training as a board certified Athletic Therapist in Canada. As an Athletic Therapy and Kinesiology student Kelly’s interest in the intricate organization and functional nature of the human body was fostered. Her passion for clinical science continued to grow as her program of study progressed and her passion was cultivated as she began to apply the knowledge she was gaining academically, in the field, and clinically.
Dr. Larkin-Kaiser’s curious nature compelled her to ask questions as to why specific interventions were used, and what their physiological benefit to healing and treatment was. She found herself constantly questioning the application of her knowledge and desiring a better understanding of the physiological basis of clinical medicine. Her curiosity led her to continue her studies at the University of Florida where, as a graduate student, her research focused on evaluating the effectiveness of complementary and alternative health interventions, primarily laser therapy and its effect on muscle function.
During this time, Kelly realized her main interest was in muscle physiology and pathological states. These interests encompassed the natural progression of aging and a variety of injury and disease states. She completed her graduate studies at the University of Florida with a PhD in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology where Kelly performed a series of studies on musculoskeletal performance with research focused on neuromuscular function and fatigue, cardiovascular function, muscle damage and the inflammatory response. While completing her PhD research she created more questions than answers which led her to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship. During Kelly’s postdoctoral fellowship she acquired many new basic science techniques to investigate research questions using reduced muscle preparations thereby complementing her clinical human research background. Dr. Larkin-Kaiser states her goal as a postdoctoral fellow was to gain more basic science skills to refine her knowledge as a clinician scientist and make her research agenda truly translatable from laboratory bench to clinical bedside.
While a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary, Kelly received a Clinician Scientist Fellowship from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions. Kelly’s research programme as a Clinician Scientist spanned multiple dimensional scales ranging from whole-body to tissue-level structure and function, and included basic, applied, and translational approaches. Here, she explored more basic structural and functional properties of pathological muscle, specifically spastic muscle from children with Cerebral Palsy. As a complement to her clinical human research programme, Kelly devoted a significant amount of her time to developing and establishing a reliable animal model for spastic Cerebral Palsy. This work allowed Dr. Larkin-Kaiser to ascertain the knowledge and skillset necessary to strive to be a truly translational clinician scientist.
Over the years Kelly has recognized the value of collaboration with multidisciplinary teams of researchers, scientists and clinicians to develop a body of knowledge that contributes to the improvement of healthcare in Canada, and Globally. With a special focus on making information on health states, health care, research advancements and health care options more accessible and easily understood by everyone in the community. Dr. Larkin-Kaiser focuses on cultivating multidisciplinary teams to maximize knowledge translation, dissemination and ultimately impact for the field. Additionally, it is incredibly important to her that the translation of research findings is not limited to those exposed to research daily but to the facilitate information sharing with the general public through guest speaker lectures, patient advocacy groups, conferences and other popular mediums.
Dr. Larkin-Kaiser notes that her motivation to continue in the field of health research is inspired by her belief that the high-quality work she and her colleagues at Medlior turn out has a positive impact on the medical community.