Nutrition Research Program
Dietary components are powerful determinants of health, affecting every aspect of human function from regulation of gene function to growth, physical and cognitive performance as well as our susceptibility to and ability to recover from disease. The Nutrition Research Centre at the Child and Family Research Institute on the site of BC’s Children’s & Women’s Health Centre is exploring the development of innovative nutritional strategies for preventing and managing disease, and for supporting children to achieve their maximum potential for physical and neurological development and health throughout life.
The Nutrition Research Centre was established in 2001, with the successful application for $5.5. million in capital infrastructure awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the BC Knowledge Development Fund. The Centre was planned with the recognition that world class nutritional science requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving expertise in molecular biology, physiological and metabolic function and the evaluation of health outcomes in laboratory models as well as individuals and populations. At the heart of the centre are four core facilities: molecular biology, metabolomics, morphometry and behaviour/physiology which are designed to support research to identify the molecular basis of the action of dietary components on gene expression (i.e. changes in protein function) and provide the capacity to trace and measure the effects of these changes in tissues and the whole organism.
In recent years there has been a dramatic shift in our understanding and acceptance that diet causes or contributes to many health problems, including obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, birth defects and immune and cognitive impairments. There is a corresponding awareness that specific food components have profound effects on health. This knowledge coupled with technological advances has resulted in a market primed for dietary-based prevention and intervention strategies at the level of the general population as well as at the level of high risk subgroups and individuals.
With support from MSFHR unit funding, the Nutrition Research Centre will implement a multi-faceted research program that will focus on important health issues including cognitive and behavioural (neurological) function, body weight, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors and immune/inflammatory disease. The goal is to understand the interactions among diet, genes and the environment that contribute to the development of these health problems for the purpose of developing and evaluating new nutritional strategies and products that will enhance treatment and prevention. Their work will also contribute new knowledge about nutrition and the maintenance of health throughout life.
Award term completed September 2009.