Getting to know our Trustee Dr. Dr. Rebecca Pillai Ridell



Dr. Pillai Riddell is the Director of the Opportunities to Understand Childhood Hurt Laboratory or The OUCH Lab ( at York University, Canada. She also is an advisory board member of the Sick Kids Pain Centre, the Sick Kids Infant Mental Health Promotion Program and the Strong Minds Strong Kids organization (formerly known as the Psychology Foundation of Canada).   As both a basic behavioural scientist and a clinical psychologist, Dr. Pillai Riddell leads a world-renown research program in infant and young child pain that seeks to understand pain from psychological, social and a biological perspective. Among her award-winning research accomplishments, she built the largest cohort in the world studying young child and parent interactions in vaccinations over the first five years of life. Her research often focuses on the power of parents to make vaccinations less painful now and in the future for young children. The OUCH lab’s new direction seeks to innovate an artificial intelligence solution to infant pain assessment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Dr. Pillai Riddell is a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, the 2019 American Pain Society’s Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain winner, and recipient of Canadian Pain Society’s 2020 Outstanding Mentorship Award.

Why did you become psychologist?   

I was initially drawn to a health profession that focuses on thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. As I advanced in my training, I realized the science behind mental health was really where my passion lay. While I still enjoy my clinical work, my emphasis as a psychologist is much more on the science than the practice. 

What made you passionate about your work and research regarding pain in infants and young children?

The potential for the real-world impact of scientific discoveries within the academic setting is the true raison d’être. I love getting lost in solving the fundamental mysteries of infant pain but it is very important to me that there will be a translational element to everything that I do.

Check out our webinar hosted by Dr. Pillai Ridell: Supporting Young Child Resilience Through Vaccination: Using Science to Manage Needle-Related Pain And Distress.

Thank you for participating in our webinar series and for leading two webinars.  Our participants found them helpful and easy to follow.   In your webinar “The Struggle to Juggle: Working Parents Pandemic Survival Guide” what would you say to all parents/caregivers on how we can cope with stress during this very difficult time?

Secure your own oxygen mask. Now more than ever, we have to take care of ourselves right now in order to take care of our children. 

What is your Favorite? 
a. Music: 90s Pop
b. Travel: Iguazu Falls in Argentina
c. Food: Cyclone popsicles 
d. Sports Team: I support any Toronto team
e. Book: The Handmaid’s Tale