Our Research Members
Professor, Department of Biochemistry; and Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology
Division Head, Clinical Biochemistry, The Hospital For Sick Children
Lipid and Lipoprotein Disorders in Insulin Resistant States, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes; Incretin Regulation of Intestinal Lipid and Lipoprotein Metabolism. Current areas of interest and active research in our laboratory include: Mechanistic studies of the link between diabetes and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease; Mechanisms of metabolic dyslipidemia in insulin resistant states; Regulation of Intestinal Lipid and Lipoprotein Metabolism by Gut Peptides; GLP-1 and GLP-2 signaling in the intesteine; Molecular biology of atherogenic lipoproteins and apolipoprotein B and involvement in the development of atherosclerosis; Mechanistic links between childhood obesity, insulin resistance, and the risk of development of premature atherosclerosis; mechanisms of action of hypolipidemic drugs at the cellular and molecular level.
Associate Professor/Clinician Scientist, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Staff Physician, St. Michael’s Hospital
Despite current treatments, people with diabetes continue to be affected by the long-term consequences of the disease. These long-term consequences are called complications and they include eye disease, kidney disease, nerve disease and heart disease. Kidney disease due to diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure requiring treatment with dialysis or kidney transplantation and people with kidney disease are much more likely to also suffer from heart disease. Our lab is committed to conducting research on the causes of kidney disease in diabetes and on the links between kidney disease and heart disease. Our major research strands are: 1) Epigenetic mechanisms and related post-translational modifications; 2) Endothelial dysfunction and endothelial-podocyte interactions; 3) Re-purposing of existing therapies and exploration of the glucose-independent effects of diabetes treatments. Through this research we aim to develop new and better treatments for diabetes to reduce the burden of the condition on the millions of people affected.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Staff Psychiatrist and Clinician Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
250 College St.
Toronto, ON M5T 1R8
Dr. Mahavir Agarwal is a psychiatrist by training who joined the University of Toronto Faculty in the spring of 2019. He is staff psychiatrist and Clinician-Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where he runs the Mental Health and Metabolism Clinic and the Clozapine Clinic in the Schizophrenia Division. His research interests lie in understanding the pathophysiology of metabolic and cognitive disturbances observed in schizophrenia, especially the severely elevated risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes observed in this population and the cognitive worsening that results from poor metabolic health. He is focusing on the role of insulin resistance in the brain in determining cognition and metabolic risk. To this end, he employs a multi-disciplinary approach to studying metabolic and cognitive outcomes using multi-modality neuroimaging, measures of cognitive functioning, and glucose metabolism (i.e. euglycemic pancreatic clamps and the oral glucose tolerance test).
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences
585 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
Johane Allard is a Gastroenterologist and a Professor at the Department of Medicine and the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. One of her main research interests is obesity and related metabolic disturbances, particularly non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and metabolic syndrome. She is conducting mainly patient-based clinical research on the influence of diet, oxidative stress, fatty acids, gene expression, and intestinal microbiota on these conditions.
In the past Dr. Allard examined in patients with HIV and NAFLD the lifestyle associated with the disease (Mohammed et al. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2007, 45(4):432-8) as well hepatic fatty acid composition (Arendt et al. Curr HIV Res. 2011;9(2):128-35). She also examined dietary intake in patients with HIV (Arendt et al. Curr HIV Res. 2008;6(1):82-90) and metabolic abnormalities. In a randomized controlled trial she showed that chromium supplementation improved insulin resistance and body composition in this patient population (Aghdassi et al. Curr HIV Res. 2010;8(2):113-20). Dr. Allard was also co-investigator in a study showing that a 24-week dietary and physical activity lifestyle intervention reduced hepatic insulin resistance in obese patients with chronic hepatitis C (Pattullo et al. Liver Int. 2013;33(3):410-9).
Later, Dr. Allard focused on patients with NAFLD without infectious disease. She demonstrated that patients with NAFLD, especially those with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), had suboptimal dietary intakes (Da Silva et al. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014; 114(8):1181-94and lower long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (Allard et al. J Hepatol 2008;48(2):300-7) and altered phospholipid composition (Arendt et et al. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Mar;38(3):334-40). Her group was the first to describe altered intestinal microbiota in patients with biopsy proven steatohepatitis compared to healthy controls (Mouzaki et al. Hepatology Hepatology 2013; 58(1):120-7), using polymerase chain reaction. Patients with NASH had a lower Bacteroidetes (% of total bacteria), and this was still significant after correction for body mass index and dietary fat intake. There was a trend (r = -0.31; P = 0.06) towards a negative association between the percentage of Bacteroidetes and insulin resistance. A more detailed analysis using Illumina technology in a larger sample size is currently in progress.
Dr. Allard has also entered a successful collaboration with the bariatric surgery team at the University Health Network and was awarded a CIHR operating grant examining the “Role of intestinal microbiota in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease pre and post bariatric surgery.” Together with Dr. Herbert Gaisano, she is also heading a CIHR funded team including clinical/translational researchers and basic scientist, aiming aims at “Exploiting the therapeutic effects of the fecal microbiome in bariatric care”. Goal of the team grant is to (1) Track the changes in the intestinal microbiome in morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery and determine the relationship with improvement in insulin resistance, T2D, and weight loss. (2) Pilot testing of fecal microbiota transplant of lean donors into morbidly obese patients to assess, whether this can induce beneficiall effects on insulin resistance and body weight and NAFLD. (3) Determine if fecal microbiota transplant from morbidly obese patients post-bariatric surgery can improve the in vivo parameters of insulin resistance, glucose-induced insulin synthesis, and obesity/weight loss in mice. The objective is to determine the specific candidate microbial species or genes in the mice that account for these beneficial effects.
Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences; Director, Program in Food Safety, Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs
Room 322, FitzGerald Building
150 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3E2
Our laboratory performs both animal and human (all age groups) experiments. The main focus of research in my lab includes food intake regulation and glycemia; carbohydrates, sweeteners, appetite and health; proteins, amino acids and food intake; dietary control of peptide hormone and neurotransmitter metabolism; and food composition, dietary status and chronic disease. My laboratory is committed to elucidating the dietary determinants and mechanisms of glycemic control and food intake. Recent study topics include: (1) investigating the effect of milk products and novel milk products on metabolic control (glycemia and gut hormones), satiety and food intake, (2) the effect of pulses and pulse ingredients on glycemic response, subjective appetite, food intake and gut hormones, and (3) investigating the effects of high vitamin intake during pregnancy on neurotransmitter gene expression and their relationship with fat mass and insulin resistance in the Wistar rat offspring at birth, at weaning and beyond.
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Staff Gastroenterologist, The Hospital for Sick Children
10-9712 South, Peter Gilgan Centre For Research and Learning
686 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M5G 0A4
My research focuses on pancreatic function and insulin sensitivity in malnutrition.
I created an animal model of malnutrition and we are studying the acute and long-term effect of malnutrition on pancreatic function and insulin action. We also have performed and are currently doing clinic studies in low resource countries.
Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health – Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences (division cross appointment in Clinical Public Health)
Associate Director, Masters of Public Health – Health Promotion Program, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Assistant Professor (non-budget cross-appointment), Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Research Fellow, Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES)
My program of research develops and evaluates community-based prevention programming for South Asian adults and adolescents living in Canada at risk for diabetes using mixed-methods designs from a socio-ecological perspective. A current project I am leading is the South Asian Adolescent Diabetes Awareness Program (SAADAP) funded by the Child and Youth Diabetes Strategy Fund by the Lawson Foundation. I am also a present fellow at the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) examining variation in the prevalence of diabetes across immigrants from the South Asian Diaspora in Ontario.
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences
1) Regulation of tissue uptake and metabolism/signaling properties of fatty acids, especially within the brain.2) Genetic and dietary regulation of plasma fatty acid concentrations.
Professor, Departments of Physiology, Medicine, and Obstetrics/Gynecology
Canada Research Chair in Neuroendocrinology, CFI Researcher
Affiliate Scientist, Division of Cellular & Molecular Biology, Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network
Obesity is a major global health concern and is a major risk factor for other disorders, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A complex neuronal system has evolved to maintain energy homeostasis, and also glucose homeostasis. Leptin, ghrelin, glucose, glucagon-like peptides, and insulin are known peripheral signals that act to regulate feeding and energy balance by modulating the expression of neuropeptides in the brain, specifically the hypothalamus. The afferent hormones leptin and insulin have common physiological responses and intracellular signaling mechanisms, but insulin resistance and leptin resistance are major metabolic problems, sometimes leading to type 2 diabetes. We have a strong track record of neuroendocrine research, focussing on molecular and cellular biology using hypothalamic neuronal cell models. Our research program includes studies of the regulation and signalling mechanisms in many of the neuropeptide-expressing neurons involved in energy homeostasis, and the molecular/cellular events leading to leptin/insulin resistance. Importantly, there is also a direct relationship between nutritional status and reproduction, another long-term interest of my laboratory, therefore my research program is poised to utilize all the information gained from our work to provide insight into the complex nature of integrated neuroendocrine control of basic physiology.
Professor and Research Director, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
Career Investigator, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario
Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP)
661 University Ave., 14th Floor. Rm 1432
Toronto, ON M5G 1M1
The main focus of research in my lab is on atherosclerosis and specifically on interactions between cells and extracellular matrix during vascular remodeling. We are investigating mechanisms of vessel wall thickening and remodeling using experimental models of arterial injury in mouse, rat and rabbit, studying the role of extracellular matrix, cell-surface integrin receptors, the novel discoidin-domain receptors and MMPs in mediating SMC responses. In collaboration with Dr. Adria Giacca, we are studying the effect of high glucose and insulin on SMC growth and matrix remodeling in atherosclerosis.
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology
I am a transplant hepatologist and clinician-scientist using a systems biology approach to studying metabolic complications post-liver transplant. Post-transplant Diabetes Mellitus (PTDM) has been shown to significantly compromise long-term transplant patient survival in around 25% of patients. However, its pathogenesis is poorly understood with need of further investigation to implement precisely designed preventive and therapeutic strategies. My research program uses a combination of Systems Biology and Machine learning approaches to layers of data from patient samples, using in vitro and in vivo models for validation. Using this unique approach, we hope to understand and develop more precise strategies to optimize the prevention and management of PTDM in our liver transplant recipients, thereby improving their long-term survival.
Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Research, Department of Physiology
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3326
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
My laboratory group recently started two projects that are related to diabetes:
1) The first project aims to understand the molecular signalling that underlies diabetes-associated microvascular structural and functional changes. Our special focus herein is on the role of microvascular sphingosine-1-phosphate signaling.
2) The second project aims to understand how heart failure affects the signalling network that ultimately controls blood glucose homeostasis. The special focus here is on the effects of TNFalpha on insulin and GLP-1 secretion.
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism; and Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation
209 Victoria Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1T8
Phone: 416-864-6060 x77448
My research focuses on health outcomes and quality of care related to diabetes. Specific interests include: 1) how neighbourhood characteristics (e.g. community design, the food environment) contribute to the prevalence of obesity and diabetes; 2) gender, socioeconomic, and regional differences in diabetes outcomes; 3) health care strategies to improve the quality of diabetes care and 4) the application of geographic analytic tools to health care planning. Much of this work is done using linkage of large secondary databases including provincial administrative health care data, population-based surveys and census, retail and other environmental data sources. Students and research fellows use epidemiological and health services research methods to study diabetes and its outcomes at a population-level.
Professor, Departments of Physiology and Medicine
The major interests of the Brubaker laboratory relate to the synthesis, secretion and biological activities of gut hormones and, in particular, the intestinal glucagon-like peptides, GLP-1 and GLP-2. These hormones play important roles in the regulation insulin and glucagon secretion, beta cell proliferation, intestinal growth and function, and food intake. GLP-1 mimetics are currently in use for the treatment of patients with Type 2 diabetes, while a long-acting GLP-2 analog has recently been approved for the treatment of patients with intestinal insufficiency due to short bowel. Some of the areas that are currently under investigation in the lab include:
- Regulation of GLP-1 and GLP-2 synthesis and secretion by the intestine, with particular focus on dietary nutrients and intracellular signalling pathways; and
- Mechanisms of action of GLP-1 and GLP-2 to stimulate beta cell and intestinal growth, respectively, with a major emphasis on the roles of novel intra- and extracellular mediators of these effects, as well as possible carcinogenic effects.
Students and fellows utilize a wide-variety of approaches to investigate the physiology and pathophysiology of the glucagon-like peptides, including normal and genetically-modified animals, cell culture and imaging approaches, in combination with tissue and cellular analyses at the mRNA and protein level
Associate Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine
Associate Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine
- Senior Director, Medical Engineering and Healthcare Human Factors, University Health Network
- Lead, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, University Health Network
- Primary Area of Study (PAS) Lead, eHealth Innovation and Information Management, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
- Clinical Lead, Design and Engineering for Health, Techna Institute, University Health Network
- Investigator, Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) Collaborative, University of Toronto
- Core Member, Centre for Patient Safety, University of Toronto
Dr. Cafazzo leads the development of technologies as a way to keep people out of hospital by allowing for self-care at home for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure.
These strategies are aimed at helping people before their conditions become acute and medical intervention is required. The emphasis here is improving patient self-efficacy.
One such solution is bant. Designed for adolescents with Type I diabities, bant simplifies diabetes management by connecting to a glucometer via Bluetooth. It also connects teens in a secure community of peers and helps them self-manage by rewarding positive behaviour every time they use their glucometer.
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology
Professor, Departments of Physiology, and IBBME
Senior Scientist, Toronto Western Research Institute
399 Bathurst St.
Toronto, ON M5T 2S8
Main interests are mechanisms of neural synchrony and entrainment (epilepsy), hypoglycemic seizures, and neurodegenerative processes.a) We have several projects on cellular mechanisms and local system dynamics of epilepsy, particularly the biophysics of the transition to seizure, and the role of electrotonic coupling via gap junctions. Molecular biological and cellular electrophysiological techniques are being used to measure the upregulation of gap junctions in several in vitro and in vivo seizure models. b) Hypoglycemic seizures are a major problem in juveniles with diabetes. We are studying the pathophysiology of hypoglycaemic seizures in juvenile animals both in vitro and in vivo, noting that the most severe seizures seem to be associated with mainly subcortical seizure-like EEG activity, which could also be related to the ‘dead in bed’ or sudden unexplained death sometimes noted with juvenile hypoglycemic events. Also we are examining the pathophysiology of neuronal injury which is enhanced by glucose reperfusion. Glucose reperfusion is also associated with a significant upregulation of gap junctional expression, the significance of which remains to be elucidated. However is is known that provision of nutrients to neurons requires intact astrocytic gap junctional communication.
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology
Clinician Scientist, University Health Network
585 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G 2N2
Current research interests in type 1 diabetes mellitus include the physiology of renal hyperfiltration in diabetic nephropathy, cardiorenal interactions and endothelial function, the effect of pharmaceutical agents on the urinary proteome, and functional gene polymorphisms in humans.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
7 Eaton South Rm. 409
200 Elizabeth St.
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
I am engaged in research related to psychosocial adjustment to diabetes, particularly risk for eating disorders and depression. I collaborate with Dr. Denis Daneman at Hospital for Sick Children, and we are conducting a longitudinal study of eating disturbances, depression, psychosocial functioning and medical status in girls and women with type 1 diabetes.
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences
Research in my lab focuses on the relationship between diet, gut microbiota and health. We have been focusing on the establishment of the intestinal barrier and the role played by the gut microbiota in its regulation, at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene expression level. Building on recent findings linking gut microbiota, intestinal barrier and the metabolic syndrome, we are now expanding our research to understand how the establishment of the gut microbiota in early life may be linked to developing this condition in later life.
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Member, Heart & Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence
Staff Physician, St. Michael’s Hospital
Staff Physician, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Scientist, Keenan Research Centre at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital
Dr. Connelly is a clinician scientist and staff physician at St Michael’s Hospital where his clinical responsibilities involve echocardiography and cardiac MRI. His basic science laboratory is involved in exploring mechanisms of diabetic complications, principally diastolic heart failure and developing novel therapeutic strategies to treat this. Dr. Connelly also collaborates closely with the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in elucidating the role of real time cardiac metabolism in the pathogenesis of post MI remodeling, and developing novel MR techniques to enable non-invasive tissue characterization.