Our Research Members

Khosrow Adeli
Adeli, Khosrow
PhD, FCACB, DABCC, FACB
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Biochemistry; and Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology

Other Appointments

Division Head, Clinical Biochemistry, The Hospital For Sick Children

Contact Information
The Hospital For Sick Children
555 University Ave., Room 3652 Atrium
Toronto, ON M5G 1X8
Phone: 416-813-8682
Fax: 416-813-6257
khosrow.adeli@sickkids.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Andrew Advani
Advani, Andrew
BSc, MBChB(Hons), PhD, FRCP(UK)
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor/Clinician Scientist, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Other Appointments

Staff Physician, St. Michael’s Hospital

Contact Information
St. Michael's Hospital
61 Queen Street East, Room 6-151
Toronto, ON M5C 2T2
Phone: 416-864-6060 x8413
advania@smh.toronto.on.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Johane Allard
Allard, Johane
MD, FRCP
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences

Contact Information
Toronto General Hospital
585 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
Phone: 416-340-5159
dr.johane.allard@uhn.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Harvey G. Anderson
Anderson, Harvey G.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences; Director, Program in Food Safety, Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs

Contact Information
Room 322, FitzGerald Building
150 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3E2
Phone: 416-978-1832
harvey.anderson@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Robert Bandsma
Bandsma, Robert
MD, PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Other Appointments

Staff Gastroenterologist, The Hospital for Sick Children

Contact Information
10-9712 South, Peter Gilgan Centre For Research and Learning
686 Bay St.
Toronto, ON M5G 0A4
Phone: 416-813-9057
robert.bandsma@sickkids.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Ananya Banerjee
Banerjee, Ananya
R.Kin PhD
U Of T Appointments

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

Other Appointments

Research Fellow, Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES)

Contact Information
Dalla Lana School of Public Health Health Sciences Building, Room 514
155 College St.
Toronto, Ontario M5T 3M7
Phone: 416-978-6873
ananya.banerjee@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Bazinet, Richard P.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Contact Information
FitzGerald Building, Room 306
150 College St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3E2
Phone: 416-946-8276
Fax: 416-978-5882
richard.bazinet@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Denise Belsham
Belsham, Denise
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Departments of Physiology, Medicine, and Obstetrics/Gynecology

Other Appointments

Canada Research Chair in Neuroendocrinology, CFI Researcher
Affiliate Scientist, Division of Cellular & Molecular Biology, Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network

Contact Information
Medical Sciences Building 3344
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-946-7646
Fax: 416-978-4940
d.belsham@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Michelle P. Bendeck
Bendeck, Michelle P.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor and Research Director, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Other Appointments

Career Investigator, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

Contact Information
Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP), Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research
661 University Ave., 14th Floor. Rm 1432
Toronto, ON M5G 1M1
Phone: 416-946-7133
Fax: 416-978-5959
michelle.bendeck@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Steffen-Sebastian Bolz
Bolz, Steffen-Sebastian
MD, PhD
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Research, Department of Physiology

Contact Information
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3326
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-978-7529
Fax: 416-978-4373
sts.bolz@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Gillian L. Booth
Booth, Gillian L.
MD, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism; and Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation

Contact Information
Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
209 Victoria Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1T8
Phone: 416-864-6060 x77448
Fax: 416-864-3025
boothg@smh.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Patricia L. Brubaker
Brubaker, Patricia L.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Departments of Physiology and Medicine

Other Appointments

Contact Information
Room 3366, Medical Sciences Building
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-978-2593
Fax: 416-978-4373
p.brubaker@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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:

  1. Regulation of GLP-1 and GLP-2 synthesis and secretion by the intestine, with particular focus on dietary nutrients and intracellular signalling pathways; and
  2. 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

Joseph Cafazzo
Cafazzo, Joseph
PhD, PEng
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine
Associate Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointments
  • 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
Contact Information
RFE 4th Floor, 4S427
190 Elizabeth Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
Phone: 416-340-3634
joe.cafazzo@uhn.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Peter Carlen
Carlen, Peter
MD, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology; Professor, Departments of Physiology, and IBBME

Other Appointments

Senior scientist TWRI

Contact Information
Toronto Western Research Institute
399 Bathurst St., Room 12-413
Toronto, ON M5T 2S8
Phone: 416-603-5017
Fax: 416-603-5768
carlen@uhnresearch.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

David Cherney
Cherney, David
MD, PhD, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology

Other Appointments

Clinician Scientist, University Health Network

Contact Information
University Health Network
585 University Ave., Room 8N-845
Toronto, ON M5G 2N2
Phone: 416-340-4151
Fax: 416-340-4999
david.cherney@uhn.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Colton, Patricia
MD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Contact Information
Toronto General Hospital
200 Elizabeth St., 7 Eaton South Rm. 409
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
Phone: 416-340-3477
Fax: 416-340-3430
patricia.colton@uhn.on.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Elena M. Comelli
Comelli, Elena M.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Contact Information
FitzGerald Building, Room 308a
150 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3E2
Phone: 416-978-628441
Fax: 416-978-5882
elena.comelli@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Kim Connelly
Connelly, Kim
MBBS, PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Member, Heart & Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence

Other Appointments

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

Contact Information
St. Michael's Hospital
30 Bond St., Room 7-052 Bond Wing
Toronto, ON M5B 1W8
Phone: 416-864-5201
Fax: 416-864-5571
connellyk@smh.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

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.

Philip W. Connelly
Connelly, Philip W.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Medicine, and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Other Appointments

Staff Scientist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, St. Michael’s Hospital

Contact Information
Room 413, Keenan Research Centre
209 Victoria Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1W8
Phone: 416-864-6023
Fax: 416-864-5870
connellyp@smh.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The research interests of the laboratory are in the study of patients at risk for Type 2 Diabetes or at risk for the complications of diabetes and identifying serum biomarkers that will predict patient outcomes. The most recent focus has been on the adipokine adiponectin and on the enzyme paraoxonase-1 (PON1). Adiponectin is an insulin-sensitizing protein produced by adipocytes.
PON1 is an anti-inflammatory component of high density lipoproteins. We have studied these factors in four patient groups:
1) The Sandy Lake Oji-Cree; 2) women at risk for post-gestational diabetes; 3) patients with renal failure on dialysis; and 4) renal transplant recipients.

Michael Coons
Coons, Michael
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine

Other Appointments

Scientist, Markham Diabetes Game Changing Initiative, and Health for All Family Health Team, Markham Stouffville Hospital

Research Associate, Connected Health and Wellness Project

Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, York University

Contact Information
Room 202
379 Church Street
Markham, ON L6B 0T1
Phone: 416-700-2880
Fax: 905-472-5662
michael.coons@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

I am a Clinical Health Psychologist, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. I have expertise in developing and implementing technology-supported behavioural interventions for obesity, and multiple health behaviour change, for chronic disease prevention. The goal of this line of research is to reduce the intesity of established face-to-face interventions, while preserving their efficacy, extending their community reach, and improving patient-provider communication. I am currently involved with the development of a large community-based diabets prevention initiative in Markham (Markham Diabetes Game Changining Initiative), and serve as the co-lead of the primary care component of this intervention.

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