Leandra Desjardins , Ph.D.
    Leandra Desjardins
    Research Axis
    Immune Diseases and Cancer Axis

    514 345-4931 6462


    • Scientist, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre (2020)


    The Connection Lab


    • 2017-2020 : Postdoctoral research and clinical fellowship, SickKids Hospital, Toronto, Canada
    • 2013-2017 : PhD (Clinical Psychology), Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, United States
    • 2011-2013 : M.Sc. (Clinical Psychology), Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, United States

    Research Topics

    • Pediatric oncology
    • Brain tumor
    • Social Competence
    • Psychosocial screening
    • Coping

    Career Summary

    I am delighted to join the CHU this fall (September 2020) as a psychologist clinician-scientist. As a researcher at the Centre de recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine (CRCHUSJ; Immune Diseases and Cancer axis), my research program aims to support the psychosocial adjustment of children with cancer.

    My PhD, residency and post-doctoral training have all focused on pediatric oncology. I completed my PhD in Clinical Psychology at Vanderbilt University in December 2017. My research focused on coping, communication, social skills and cognition in children with cancer. I subsequently pursued clinical and research opportunities in oncology during my residency and post-doctoral fellowship at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto. It is with great pleasure that I am joining CRCHUSJ to continue to pursue a research program on the psychosocial aspects of pediatric oncology.

    To date, my contributions to science have focused on three main areas. First, my work is aimed at addressing gaps in knowledge about the assessment of specific social behaviours of pediatric brain tumor survivors. The lack of knowledge in this area has hindered the development of more sensitive and effective social competence interventions for this vulnerable population. Second, I have established associations between emotional functioning, executive functioning and social competence in pediatric oncology. This work has contributed to an essential knowledge base supporting the need for more multidimensional interventions in this population. Finally, I collaborated in the implementation of the first randomized pilot control trial examining the feasibility of matching families of children diagnosed with cancer to psychosocial resources based on the results of screening for distress tools via a psychosocial navigator.

    My ultimate goal is to establish multifaceted interventions targeting the interrelated constructs of social competence, emotional functioning and cognitive function in children diagnosed with cancer. I am also committed to working on the implementation of screening for distress programs to screen families in pediatric settings and provide them with appropriate psychosocial resources and effective interventions. I am also interested in interventions to support the transition of young adults with a chronic illness from the pediatric to the adult setting.

    Awards and Distinctions


    Understanding Social Competence in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors: A Longitudinal Study
    Source : Health Outcomes Grant Competition, The Hospital for Sick Children
    Principal co-investigators : Dr. Maru Barrera, Dr. Leandra Desjardins
    Co-investigators: Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, Dr. Jacob Vorstman, Dr. Ute Bartels


    A Novel Approach Towards Understanding Social Competence in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors: Feasibility and Pilot Study
    Source : The Hospital for Sick Children Psychiatry Endowment fund
    Principal co-investigators : Dr. Jacob Vorstman et Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai
    Co-investigators: Dr. Leandra Desjardins, Dr. Maru Barrera, Dr. Ute Bartels

    Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference International Travel Award

    Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada award in support of psychosocial oncology excellence


    Mapping psychosocial screening to services for children with cancer: a feasibility and pilot study
    Source : Cundill Foundation for Child and Youth Depression
    Principal investigator : Dr. Maru Barrera
    Co-investigators: Szatmari, S Alexander, W Shama, D. Mills, C. de Souza
    Collaborator : Dr. Leandra Desjardins (navigateur psychosocial du projet et collaborateur dans la conception de l'étude)

    International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) Young Investigator award


    1. Desjardins, L., Vorstman, J., Lai, M-C., Bartels, U., & Barrera, M. (2019, October). A Novel Approach Towards Understanding Social Competence in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors: Feasibility and Pilot Study. Poster presentation at the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) annual conference, Lyon, France.
    2. Desjardins, L., Hancock, K., Alexander, S, Mills, D., Shama, W., De Souza, C., Gupta, A., Szatmari, P., Barrera, M. (2019, January). Mapping Psychosocial Screening to Resources: A Pilot Intervention Study. Three minute rapid fire oral presentation and poster presentation at the annual Garron Family Cancer Center Research Day, Toronto, ON.
    3. Desjardins, L., Solomon, A., Shama, W., Mills, D., Chung, J., Barrera, M. (2019, April). Pediatric Cancer Quality of Life 6 Months Post Diagnosis: Examining the Influence of Parent Factors. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPPAC), New Orleans, LA.
    4. Desjardins, L., Solomon, A.,  Janzen, L., Bartels, U., Schulte, F., Chung, J., Cataudella, D., & Barrera, M (2018, June). The Association Between Executive Functions and Social Skills in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors: Let's Get Specific. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO), Toronto, ON.
    5. Desjardins, L., Bartels, U., Cataudella, D., Chung, J., Fairclough, D., Hancock, K., Saleh, A., Barrera, M. (2018, April). Predicting Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPPAC), Orlando, FL.


    1. Desjardins, L., Lai, M-C., Vorstman, J., Bartels, U., & Barrera, M. (Accepté pour publication) A Novel Approach Towards Understanding Social Competence in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors: Pilot Study. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
    2. Desjardins, L., Gerhardt, C. A., Vannatta, K., Bemis, H., Murphy, L. K., ... & Compas, B. E. (2020). Social Adjustment and Coping in Children Diagnosed with Cancer: From Diagnosis to 12 Months. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa077
    3. Barrera, M, Alexander, S, Atenafu, E., Chung, J., Hancock, K., Solomon, A,  Desjardins, L, Shama, W, & Mills, D. (2020). Psychosocial Screening and Mental Health in Pediatric Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Health Psychology. 39 (5), p. 381-390.
    4. Desjardins, L., Etkin, L., Hancock, K., Chung, J., Shama, W.,  Mills, D., Alexander, S., Barrera, M. (2019). Healthcare Provider Utility Ratings of a Psychosocial Screening Summary: From Diagnosis to 6 Months. Supportive Care in Cancer
    5. Desjardins, L., Barrera, M., Chung, J., Cataudella, D., Janzen, L., Bartels, U., ... & Fairclough, D. (2019). Are we friends? Best friend nominations in pediatric brain tumor survivors and associated factors. Supportive Care in Cancer, 1-8.
    6. Desjardins, L., Solomon, A., Janzen, L., Bartels, U., Schulte, F., Chung, J., ... & Barrera, M. (2018). Executive functions and social skills in pediatric brain tumor survivors. Applied Neuropsychology: Child, 1-9.
    7. Desjardins, L., Barrera, M., Schulte, F., Chung, J., Cataudella, D., Janzen, L., Bartels, U., Downie, A. (2018). Predicting Withdrawal and Internalizing Symptoms in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. Volume: 37, Issue: 01, pages 22 - 36. 
    8. Barrera, M., Alexander, S., Shama, W., Mills, D., Desjardins, L., & Hancock, K. (2018). Perceived benefits of and barriers to psychosocial risk screening in pediatric oncology by health care providers. Pediatric blood & cancer, 65(12), e27429.
    9. Desjardins, L., Thigpen, J. C., Kobritz, M., Bettis, A. H., Gruhn, M. A., Ichinose, M., ... & Compas, B. E. (2018). Parent reports of children’s working memory, coping, and emotional/behavioral adjustment in pediatric brain tumor patients: A pilot study. Child Neuropsychology, 24(7), 959-974.
    10. Compas, B.E., Desjardins, L., Vannatta, K., Young-Saleme, T., Rodriguez, E.M., Dunn, M., Bemis, H., Snyder, S., & Gerhardt, C.A. (2014). Children and adolescents coping with cancer: Self- and parent-reports of coping and anxiety/depression. Health Psychology, 33, 853-861.

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