Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences-Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science
University of Alberta
Summary of research:
My group has an interdisciplinary research program that seeks better prevention and management of diabetes. Preventing diabetes begins before birth but our research begins at birth, focusing different stages of life including neonatal development, around childbirth in adult women, and in older adults who have already been diagnosed with diabetes. The year following birth is a period of tremendous maturation in human infants. In particular, the cells that secrete insulin achieve a mature form and become responsive to glucose so that blood sugars can be well-controlled throughout life. Our current research is showing that when piglets, which are a good model for human infants, are exposed to oral antibiotics to alter their gut microbial community, the development of their insulin-secreting cells changes. Now we are trying to learn what the connection is between the gut microbes and the insulin-secreting cells. A second area of interest is to help maintain optimal health in women who have had a pregancy with gestastional diabetes (GDM). This is important because GDM often leads to early development of type 2 diabetes. We have developed many helpful resources for people with type 2 diabetes that we are now modifying for the use of women trying to improve their diet after a GDM pregnancy.