Federal funding grants recognize research success

Two AFNS scientists focus their work on increasing health outcomes for Canadians.

ALES News staff - 25 July 2018

Two young scientists are leading the pack when it comes to recognition for their recent research.

Carla Prado and Caroline Richard, both researchers in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, were recently awarded Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) grants, which will enable them to focus their work in human nutrition on how to achieve the best health results for Canadians.

"My work focuses on studying the importance of and ways to improve body composition, which refers to the amounts of muscle and fat in our bodies," explains Prado. "One of the conditions we focus on is cancer, a disease affecting one out of every five Canadians.

"I am particularly interested in studying how to reverse low muscle mass, which affects the majority of people with cancer and leads to physical disability, extended hospitalization, surgical complications, increased risk for severe toxicity during cancer treatment, cancer recurrence and shortened survival."

"My research aims at understanding the immune dysfunction associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes and what is the role that nutrition plays in it," says Richard. "Individuals with obesity and/or Type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of infection and a more severe course of infection, meaning that the immune system is impaired in these conditions.

"Therefore, understanding better and finding nutritional strategies to improve these immune dysfunctions could have a significant impact on the health of Canadians, as we have a high prevalence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in Canada."

Grants for young scientists by federal agencies is critical to not only acknowledging burgeoning work, but also freeing up opportunities for researchers to pursue new collaborations, says ALES Dean Stan Blade.

"Financial acknowledgement by agencies like CIHR is a testament to the quality of work these two young scientists are achieving," said Blade. "Their focus on improving the quality of life of Canadians deserves time and energy to dedicate to these important issues, and I'm grateful that they have been deservedly recognized."

"Federal funding is highly competitive with very strict review criteria, so receiving a CIHR grant recognizes the excellent of the research we will conduct, our expertise in the field and the capacity and infrastructure we have in place to conduct a study that will meet a dire need for establishing energy and protein requirements for people with cancer," said Prado.

Richard agrees.

"National agencies like CIHR or NSERC are not only prestigious, but also important recognition of the quality of your research," she says.

Prado's work, "Innovative approaches to the lack of evidence-based dietary energy and protein requirements for patients with cancer", will be funded for five years; Richard's research-"Establishing the importance of diet and insulin resistance in modulating immune function in obesity"-will also be funded for five years.