Dr. Barbara Cifra graduated cum laude from medical school at “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy and completed her residency in Sports Medicine, focusing her training in cardiology and exercise physiology. As a trainee, she worked in the Medical and Surgical Paediatric Cardiology Unit at Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome studying the ways in which different forms of physical activity impact heart function in children with acquired and congenital heart disease. While in Italy she also had the unique opportunity to work with the first league soccer team in Rome (AS Roma) and the Italian National Rowing team. Elite athletes represent an exceptional research model for understanding how the cardiovascular system remodels when exposed to intense exercise.

She worked as a research fellow in the Echocardiography Laboratory in the Labatt Family Heart Centre where she developed the Exercise Stress Echocardiography Program. Dr. Cifra uses exercise stress echocardiography to detect early signs of cardiac dysfunction in children with heart problems. The importance of her research is the possibility to identify children who might benefit from earlier interventions or change in medical treatment through stress echocardiography.

She is currently a staff physician and has taken on the responsibility of developing an Exercise Medicine Program that will focus on healthy lifestyle plans and exercise recommendations for children with heart disease. She is also finishing a Master’s Program in Exercise Science at The University of Toronto.