Susanne Benseler

Research Scientist, Pediatric Rheumatology, MD, PhD



  • Director, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute
  • Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
  • Cenovus Energy Chair in Child and Maternal Health
  • Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Pediatric Research


Research Interests

  • Childhood CNS vasculitis and inflammatory brain diseases
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Outcome research in paediatric SLE


Dr. Susanne (Susa) Benseler is a Pediatric Rheumatologist within the Department of Pediatrics at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine, as well as a clinical epidemiologist, and a clinician investigator.

Susa obtained her M.D from the University of Freiburg and Berlin, and obtained her PhDs in Immunology and Pediatrics from the University of Innsbruck and Freiburg. From there she went on to be a fellow in pediatric rheumatology at the University of Toronto and obtained her Masters in Clinical Epidemiology.

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Dr. Susa Benseler is well-known and highly regarded worldwide for her knowledge/research in nervous system inflammation, rare organ specific and systemic inflammatory diseases, as well as precision health for children. She established the first childhood CNS Vasculitis and Inflammatory Brain Diseases Clinic & Research program in 2006, at SickKids Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is a founding member of Brainwork’s, an international Childhood CNS Vasculitis Investigator Network, which includes a web-based virtual longitudinal cohort of >400 children with Inflammatory brain disease. Over the past decade, the Brainwork’s team has dramatically improved the recognition, therapy and outcomes of children with a wide range of serious symptoms, including seizures or strokes, recognizing that inflammation can be the underlying cause. Susa led research studies successfully controlling the inflammation, allowing the brain to heal and preventing brain damage.


Dr. Susa Benseler and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Rheumatology team have partnered with other interdisciplinary teams from Canada and the Netherlands for precision health in childhood arthritis and have created the Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network (UCAN).  The UCAN study aims to develop biomarker profiles to enable a rapid diagnosis and selection of therapies to achieve the best outcomes for children living with arthritis. The UCAN cohort was awarded $8-million by the Canadian Arthritis Institutes of Health Research and a Dutch partner organization. Susa is also currently, heading a large interdisciplinary team that will dedicates research and resources to the implementation of genomic medicine into the care for children with arthritis. The cohort was recently awarded $10-million in funding from Genome Canada.


Along with the research, cohorts, and working groups that Dr. Susa Benseler is part of, she also serves as the Deputy Head of Research and Section Chief of Rheumatology for the Department of Pediatrics, at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. She is a member of ACHRI and the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health. She is the Chair of the Canadian Pediatric Rheumatology Investigator (CAPRI) network and contributes to the Canadian Rheumatology Association, the international Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network (UCAN), and the North American Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA). Dr. Benseler has numerous published peer-reviewed articles on childhood inflammatory brain diseases, vasculitis and other rheumatic diseases.