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
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.