McMaster University

Metabolism and Childhood Obesity

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2018 Canadian Obesity Student Meeting (COSM) Conference 2018



CONSNP 2018The Canadian Obesity Network is holding its 6th Canadian Obesity Student Meeting, known as COSM. The meeting will not only highlight important advances in obesity research but will also provide important opportunities for new professionals and trainees from across Canada to present findings and network with their peers.

The event will host 200 fellow young researchers and health professionals for three-four days of learning, networking and sharing information on all aspects of obesity. This multidisciplinary conference will be organized by the local CON-SNP chapter with guidance and support from the Canadian Obesity Network ( The presentations and discussions will range from cellular and molecular biology to childhood obesity, primary intervention, and population health. However, the primary purpose of this meeting is to enhance student growth and development. Organized by students, for students, this conference will give trainees the opportunity to showcase their work. Participants will come from across Canada, the USA and overseas. Open to 200 MSc/PhD students, young researchers, clinical fellows, clinical researchers and young health professionals in their last, or within five years of, completing their training.

For more information contact:
Nicole MacLeod OR Kristen Reilly/Taniya Nagpal, CON-SNP COSM Co-chairs


7th Conference on Recent Advances in the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity: Beyond the Clinic



Obesity Conference Calgary 2018

This conference brings together an interdisciplinary group of professionals working in the field of childhood and adolescent obesity. The 7th conference will focus on a range of topics that impact the prevention and treatment of obesity beyond the clinic setting, considering the broader social and environmental factors that influence the health of children, adolescents, and families. This multi-theme meeting will explore the role that health care professionals can play in promoting healthy strategies within the greater community to enhance the well-being of children and adolescents living with obesity. Specifically, the conference will showcase examples of successful collaborations that span diverse settings, including the health care system, government, schools, and community at-large.


• Review the importance of community health and highlight successful strategies for promoting healthy lifestyles

• Analyze new trends in nutrition and healthy lifestyle aiming at preventing childhood and adolescent obesity

• Examine the role of social and environmental influences on obesity (e.g. social determinants of health; built environment; social network; media; technology)

• Provide a forum for networking and collaboration among health professionals, educators, researchers, policy makers, trainees and other stakeholders with an interest in childhood and adolescent obesity

• Highlight opportunities for attendees to promote healthy habits and environments in the broader community


Deadline for Submissions: June 1, 2018

To submit an abstract or for more details, click here.




EMPhasis on Health

The "EMPhasis on health" seminars are sponsored jointly by MAC-Obesity and CON-SNP @ Mac and are bi-weekly seminars featuring graduate students, faculty members and clinicians of McMaster University and surrounding universities. In 20-minute or 40-minute academic presentations, guest speakers provide an overview of their current research relating to energy metabolism, physiology, nutrition, obesity, and related diseases. The "EMPhasis on health" seminars provide an avenue to stay up to date on current research in the following fields:

  • Physiology of energy metabolism during aging
  • Human, animal and cellular energy metabolism and physiology
  • Pathophysiology of obesity
  • Dysfunction of energy metabolism in various organ systems (ie. muscle, bone, liver, pancreas)
  • Energy metabolism and mental health
  • Nutrition and fetal development
  • Pharmacological, surgical, lifestyle, and nutrition interventions for treating and preventing energy metabolism disorders

Read more about the EMPhasis on health Seminars

These seminars are now accredited for CME by the RCPC

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons

2018 Upcoming EMPhasis Events





Thursday May 24, 2018

12:00-1:00 - HSC 4E20

Speaker: Riddhi Desai (MSc Candidate)

Evaluating the relationships between cardiovascular risk factors and carotid intima-media thickness over time in children and youth with obesity

Riddhi completed her BSc in the Physiology and Pharmacology Program at Western University. She is currently a M.Sc. student under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Morrison in the Department of Pediatrics. Her work focuses on assessing the progression of carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) in children and youth with obesity and identifying the modifiable cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) that may predict this change.

Learning Objectives:

1. Characterize cIMT progression in children and youth with obesity, enrolled   in a weight management program.

2. Investigate the modifiable CVRFs associated with cIMT progression in a   pediatric population with obesity.


Speaker: Madison Beatty (MSc Candidate)

The association of physical activity and cardiometabolic health in early pregnancy

Madison is completing her M.Sc. under the supervision of Dr. Stephanie Atkinson in the Department of Pediatrics. Her thesis focuses on exploring the self-reported and measured physical activity of women in early pregnancy, and the association with cardiometabolic health. Madison will be presenting preliminary analyses of baseline data from the Be Healthy in Pregnancy (BHIP) randomized controlled trial.

Learning Objectives:

1. Understand the types and patterns of physical activity of women in early pregnancy in relation to Canadian recommendations for physical activity in pregnancy.

2. To explore the relationship between physical activity level and biomarkers of cardiometabolic health in early pregnancy.



2018 Past Events



Thursday May 17, 2018

Challenges in delineating shivering & non-shivering thermogenesis during cold acclimation

Speaker: Dr. François Haman

Dr. Haman is a full professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences at uOttawa. He completed his PhD at the uOttawa/Carleton Institute of Biology. Currently, Haman’s research deals with aspects of human energetics from the mitochondria to the whole-body. It focuses on how humans orchestrate metabolic fuel selection to improve chances of survival and increase performance in adverse environmental conditions such as changing climates and important modifications of dietary behavior. From mechanisms to applications, his work aims to establish principles that dictate fuel use and provide strategies to improve health/performance or chances of survival using alterations in dietary behaviors or physical training. Current work integrates a number of state-of-the-art metabolic methodologies to quantify human responses to climate change (heat/cold) and dietary behavior in northern First Nations communities of northwestern Ontario.

Learning Objectives:

1. Understand the large interindividual variability in thermogenic responses between humans.

2. Understand the complexities of quantifying shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis.

3. Understand the effects of cold acclimation in modulating the relative contribution of shivering and nonshivering thermogenesis to total heat production.



Thursday May 10, 2018

‘Muscling-in’ on type 1 diabetes

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Hawke

Dr. Thomas Hawke is a professor in the department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University.His research interests center on a few primary areas: (1) The capacity of skeletal muscle to grow, repair and adapt to stressors such as injury and disease.(2) The regulation of the muscle stem cell population (referred to as satellite cells).A particular focus of the lab in recent years has been the impact of type 1 diabetes on skeletal muscle and its satellite cell population, and how negative changes to skeletal muscle health may hasten the onset and progression of diabetic complications. He currently serves as an associate editor for the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology and the Journal of Diabetes Research, as well as acting as the Vice Chair-Research for the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP).

Learning Objectives:

1. Develop an understanding of T1DM and how complications develop in this disease.

2. Understand how skeletal muscle health is impacted in T1DM.

3. Appreciate how improvements in skeletal muscle health in T1DM may delay the onset and progression of diabetic complications.



Thursday April 26, 2018

The systemic effects of exercise on regulators of muscle and bone in girls and women

Speaker: Yasmeen Mezil, PhD (Candidate)

Yasmeen graduated from Brock University with a BSc and MSc in Medical Sciences and Kinesiology. She is currently completing her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Brian Timmons in the Department of Pediatrics. Her dissertation focuses on exploring the systemic effects of exercise on the muscle-bone unit in children and adults.

Learning Objectives:

1. Characterize the systemic effects of exercise on regulators of muscle and bone.

2. Investigate the systemic effects of exercise in vitro using muscles and bone cultures.


The time course of changes in brown adipose tissue fat fraction during cooling and warming in adult males

Speaker: Stephan Oreskovich, MSc (Candidate)

Stephan completed his undergraduate degree in the BHSc (Honours) program at McMaster University and is now a MSc student under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Morrison in the Department of Pediatrics. His project aims to identify and investigate the pattern of change in supraclavicular (SCV) fat fraction (FF), an MRI-derived measure of brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity, in a cohort of male subjects.

Learning Objectives:

1. Introduction to MRI as a safe and non-invasive modality for investigating BAT activity in human subjects.

2. Determining the pattern of change in SCV BAT FF during cooling and warming and relating these changes to demographic and clinical indices of interest.



Thursday April 12, 2018

Xin as a novel regulator of mitochondrial morphology and bioenergetics in skeletal muscle

Speaker: Molly Gingrich, MSc (Candidate)

Molly completed her BSc. in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Guelph. She is currently an MSc. student under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hawke. Her thesis is focused on determining the role of the protein Xin in skeletal muscle mitochondrial function.

Learning Objectives:

1. Introduce the striated-muscle specific protein Xin.

2. Determine the impact of Xin deficiency on skeletal muscle mitochondria under the metabolic stress of a high fat diet.


Reconstitution of the extracellular matrix of white adipose tissue and characterization of cell morphology, proliferation and differentiation

Speaker: Chitman Josan, MSc (Candidate)

Chitman is a MSc student under the supervision of Dr. Sandeep Raha. Her thesis explores the possibility of characterizing cell behavior in a three-dimensional (3D) culture. Incorporation of the ECM within the in vitro culture system provides cells with a 3D environment along with simulating the cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions found in vivo, which impact cell differentiation and function.

Learning Objectives:

1. Development of a 3-D model of white adipose tissue in vitro.

2. Characterization of pre-adipocyte morphology, proliferation and differentiation in a reconstituted ECM.



Thursday March 29, 2018

Developmental origins of cardiometabolic diseases: How bullying, poverty, diabetes, and prenatal interventions shape disease risk in youth

Speaker: Laetitia Guillemette

Laetitia Guillemette is a PhD Candidate in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. While her early graduate training in Physiology (specialized in endocrinology) was focused on biological determinants of health, her interests in the multifaceted origins of cardiometabolic diseases and her involvement in her local CON-SNP Chapter have led her to also consider social determinants of health. Recognizing the large impact of the environment on individuals, she is especially passionate about identifying modifiable risk factors and ways to improve health beyond lifestyle.

Learning Objectives:

1. Discover the Developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) theory and how it applies to risk of cardiometabolic diseases in youth.

2. Examine evidence from both biomedical and psychosocial lenses.

3. Discuss potential protective factors of youth cardiometabolic health beyond individual lifestyle.



Thursday March 15, 2018


Keeping weight off is really hard: Recent advances in pharmacotherapy, surgery and diets

Speaker: Dr. Sean Wharton


Dr. Wharton has completed his doctorate in Pharmacy and Medicine and is the medical director of Wharton Medical Clinic, a community based internal medicine weight management and diabetes clinic.He is an adjunct professor at McMaster University in Hamilton and York University in Toronto.He also works as an internist at Toronto East General Hospital and Hamilton Health Sciences.Dr. Wharton is a researcher and is qualified as a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Wharton’s research focuses on bariatric medicine and type 2 diabetes.He is the lead author of the weight management section of the 2013 and 2018 Canadian Diabetes Guidelines, and co-chair of the 2018 Canadian Obesity Guidelines.

Learning Objectives

1. Understand the physiology of weight change.

2. Gain insight into new pharmocotherapy options for obesity management.

3. Understand the science behind intermittent fasting (IF) and clinical efficacy of IF.





Research Blitz 2018 March 8.18



Thursday March 1, 2018

The quest for immortality - a tale of quantum physics, regenerative cells and the diabetic heart!

Speaker: Dr. Kim Connelly

Dr. Kim Connelly is a Cardiologist and Clinician Scientist, nationally recognized as an expert in human and rodent echocardiography, cardiovascular MRI and the impact of diabetes upon cardiac function. He is the Director of the Krembil Stem Cell Facility at St. Michael’s Hospital and uses stem cell based therapies to improve cardiac and renal dysfunction as a result of diabetes. He is the Chair of Macrovascular Complications at the Canadian Diabetes Association and President of Can SCMR. Dr. Connelly runs a basic research laboratory at the Keenan Research Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, where he focuses primarily around the role of pathological extracellular matrix accumulation and the pro-sclerotic cytokine transforming growth factor beta, with a focus upon translating discoveries into therapies in humans.

Learning Objectives

1. To discuss new therapeutic approaches in diabetes using regenerative cells to combat deleterious ventricular remodeling.

2. Novel imaging methods to monitor cardiac metabolism in real time.

3. Outline a first-in-man clinical trial.


Rethinking Obesity in Children and Adolescents: 2017-2018 Webinar Seriesand Adolescents: 2017-2018 Webinar Series

CAN Webinar March 1.18


Thursday February 15, 2018


Predicting future health outcomes today in survivors of childhood brain tumors

Speaker: Dr. Constantine Samaan

Dr. Samaan is an Associate Professor in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University and a staff physician at McMaster Children's Hospital. Dr. Samaan completed his training in Pediatric Endocrinology at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He pursued research training as an International Research Scholar at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, USA and at the Program of Cell Biology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Samaan’s program of Translational Research focuses on defining the determinants of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the pediatric and adult populations, and the development of interventions to treat and prevent diabetes. In addition, knowledge synthesis is another component of this program.

Learning Objectives

1. Understand potential new determinants of health outcomes in Survivors of Childhood Brain Tumors (SCBT).

2. Understand adiposity profiles in SCBT.

3. Report on the predictors of adiposity in SCBT.



Thursday January 25, 2018


The Role of the Microbiome in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Speaker: Dr. Nikhil Pai

Nikhil Pai is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology. He is the medical director of the Pediatric Clinical Nutrition Service and leads the Intestinal Failure and Home TPN program. Dr. Pai’s research program is in the area of fecal microbiota transplant and microbial therapeutics. He is the principal investigator of the PediFETCh Trial, the first multicenter, randomized controlled trial of fecal microbiota transplantation for pediatric ulcerative colitis. His interests center around host-microbial interactions, particularly as applied to pediatric medicine.

Learning Objectives

1. Review basic physiology of how our intestinal bacteria can influence liver disease.

2. Discuss evidence supporting a role for microbial interactions in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

3. Review evidence towards the effectiveness of microbiota-based treatments in the management of NAFLD.




Thursday January 11, 2018


Discovery of Nrf1 as a guardian of Brown Fat proteo-metabolic homeostasis and thermogenic activity

Speaker: Dr. Scott Widenmaier

Dr. Scott Widenmaier is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases and the Sabri Ulker Center for Metabolic Research at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, under the supervision of Professor Gokhan Hotamisligil MD, PhD. His research is focused on delineating how mammalian adaptive systems defend against nutrient challenges to guard metabolic homeostasis. In this talk, he will describe the recent discovery by Dr. Alex Bartelt, himself, and Dr. Hotamisligil that an endoplasmic reticulum localized transcription factor named Nrf1 plays a central role in securing homeostatic control of metabolism in brown adipose tissue to ensure the needed thermogenic capacity is available when brown adipose is placed under tremendous metabolic burdens, such as cold exposure and obesity.

Learning Objectives

1. Brown adipocytes have an extremely high metabolic capacity for generating heat, which can make them vulnerable to cell stress.

2. Nrf1 mediates protection of metabolically active brown adipocytes by promoting proteo-metabolic homeostasis.

3. Enhancing Nrf1 activity has therapeutic effects in preclinical obese models of Type 2 diabetes.


2017 Past Events



Thursday December 14, 2017


The microbiome as a driver and modifier of disease muddled by its underlying diversity

Speaker: Dr. Michael Surette


Michael Surette is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in the Department of Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. He is also director of the Farncombe Genomics Facility.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize the microbiome as a driver and modifier of disease.
Understand the methods used to study the microbiome and basic comparative measurements used to characterize the microbiome.

3. Recognize the diversity of the human microbiome and limitations of methods for studying the microbiome.




Thursday November 30, 2017


Unilateral exercise models to study skeletal muscle: When is one limb more powerful than two?


Speaker: Dr. Martin MacInnis

Dr. MacInnis is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. He completed his PhD in environmental physiology at UBC before coming to McMaster to study skeletal muscle physiology with Dr. Phillips and Dr. Gibala. His research examines the effects of exercise, nutrition, and the environment on integrative human physiology, with a current focus on the factors regulating skeletal muscle mitochondrial density.

Learning Objectives:
1. Review mitochondrial biogenesis.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the unilateral exercise model.

3. Evaluate the roles of exercise intensity and duration in mediating changes in mitochondrial density.



Thursday November 16, 2017

The role of mast cell-derived serotonin in metabolic disease

Speaker: Julian Yabut, PhD Student


Julian completed his BSc in the Biology & Pharmacology Program at McMaster University and is now a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg. His dissertation focuses on exploring sources of peripheral serotonin that mediate the progression of metabolic diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes.

Learning Objectives:
Establish peripheral serotonin as a factor involved in regulating obesity, insulin resistance and fatty liver disease.
Uncover the relationship between mast cell-derived serotonin and metabolic disease using a mouse model.

Establishing the feasibility of mechanistic studies on the role of the immune system in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Speaker: Srikesh Rudrapatna, MSc Student

Srikesh is completing his M.Sc. under the supervision of Dr. M. C. Samaan in the Department of Pediatrics. His work focuses on bench to-bedside applications of research. On the clinical side, he is interested in understanding the application of rigorous research methods to help with knowledge synthesis, study design and evaluation. On the bench, he is interested in understanding the mechanisms of immune-muscle interactions in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

Learning Objectives:
1. Define the feasibility of translational research studies in AIS patients.
Knowledge synthesis; evidence for skeletal muscle macrophages in obesity.

3. Studying muscle immunometabolism in AIS.



Thursday November 2, 2017


A Molecular Whodunit: Targeting mediators of the systemic effects of exercise to treat metabolic disorders


Speaker: Dr. Ayesha Saleem


Dr. Ayesha Saleem completed her PhD at York University (2013) where her primary focus was to decipher the role of the sub-cellular localization of the tumor suppressor protein p53, in regulating skeletal muscle metabolic plasticity in the context of forced and volitional exercise. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University (2016), where she studied the use of extracellular vesicle biology as a therapeutic modality for genetic diseases, as well as investigating the therapeutic potential of pro-metabolic signalling factors to attenuate chronic pathological conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). She currently serves as a Professor in the School of Health Sciences (Biotechnology) at Humber College.



Learning Objectives:
1. Learn about the putative mediators of exercise-induced whole body systemic adaptations.
2. Obtain insight into the underlying mechanisms by which pro-metabolic signalling factors attenuate metabolism-related disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and NAFLD.



Thursday October 19, 2017


Microbial triggers of obesity-induced insulin resistance


Speaker: Dr. Kevin Foley


Dr. Kevin Foley completed his BSc and MSc in Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo where he studied exercise physiology. Dr. Foley then moved to the Biochemistry department at University of Toronto for his PhD where he studied cellular mechanisms of GLUT4 transport in the lab of Dr. Amira Klip in the Cell Biology Department at The Hospital for Sick Children. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Jonathan Schertzer. His research interests focus on mechanisms regulating the onset of obesity-induced insulin resistance. In particular, Dr. Foley is studying the role of the intestinal microbiota in mediating insulin resistance. His research encompasses both animal and cellular models to dissect pathways involved in mediating inflammatory responses in diet-induced obesity.

Learning Objectives:
1. Present a mechanism through which inflammatory triggers stimulate lipolysis in a cell model.
2. Show that the intestinal microbiota can trigger defects in insulin dynamics, which may contribute to the onset of insulin resistance.



Thursday October 5, 2017


A critical understanding of NOD signalling in obesity, insulin resistance and gut microbial sensing; Important implications for re-tasking kinase inhibitors in diabetes treatment


Speaker: Brittany Duggan, PhD (Candidate)


Brittany is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Schertzer. Her thesis explores the immunometabolic consequences of NOD1 and NOD2 signalling and how gut microbiota utilize these immune receptors to regulate host glucose and insulin homeostasis.

Learning Objectives:
1. Define a role for NOD1 and NOD2 in gut microbial sensing and characterize functional effects of these pathways on glucose and insulin homeostasis.
2. Determine how kinase inhibitors currently under investigation for treatment of diabetes attenuate aspects of NOD1 and NOD2 signalling.

Myostatin inhibition therapy in the treatment of type 1 diabetes


Speaker: Samantha Coleman, PhD (Candidate)


Samantha completed her BMSc at the University of Western Ontario in Medical Biophysics. She is currently completing her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hawke investigating the link between skeletal muscle health and type one diabetes using myostatin inhibition intervention.

Learning Objectives:
1. Examining the impact of skeletal muscle on type 1 diabetic's health.
2. Investigating the role of inhibiting the myostatin pathway in the context of type 1 diabetes.



Thursday September 21, 2017


Are chemicals in our environment acting as metabolic endocrine disruptors?


Speaker: Dr. Alison Holloway


Dr. Holloway is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University. Her research focuses on how exposure to various chemicals during pregnancy can affect long-term metabolic health of the offspring. The chemicals that are of interest to her laboratory include constituents of cigarette smoke, smoking cessation, pharmacotherapies and antidepressants. More recently, her group has also been investigating metabolic endocrine disruption by environmental toxicants.

Learning Objectives:
1. Present evidence suggesting that chemicals in our environment are contributing to the obesity epidemic.
2. Discuss mechanisms by which these chemicals can cause obesity.


Thursday June 1, 2017


Nutrigenetics, omega-3 fats, and cardiometabolic health – Are we ready to personalize diets?

Speaker: Dr. David Mutch

Dr. Mutch is an Associate Professor of Nutrigenomics in the Department of Human Health & Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph, Canada. He received his PhD from the University of Lausanne Switzerland in 2005, and then completedpost-doctoral fellowships at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris. In 2009 he joined the University of Guelph to establish a nutrigenomics research program to investigate the interactions between dietary fatty acids, inflammation and genes, and how this contributes to the development of obesity and obesity-related complications.

Learning Objectives:
1. Introduction to nutrigenetics
2. Highlight the association between omega-3 fats and cardiometabolic health

3. Examine the role of fatty acid desaturase genes as mediators of omega-3 function




Thursday May 25th, 2017


Serotonin: a novel regulator of human erythroid progenitor cell expansion and its relevance to the development of myelodysplasia

Speaker: Francine Côté

Francine Côté is a research scientist within the Unit INSERM U1163 at Institut Imagine, Hôpital Necker, in Paris France.  During her post-doctoral work, she generated the murine model deficient for 5-HT synthesis (Tph1-/-).  Unexpected roles played by 5-HT in peripheral tissues were discovered using the Tph1-/- mouse line and led to the identification of complete serotonergic systems in unexpected locations.  Within an organ, the presence of such a complete network is of importance as it highlights the link between local 5-HT synthesis and a precise function within the organ, rather than considering 5-HT as a pleiotropic hormone synthesized in the gut and distributed throughout the entire organism. With that in mind, her group is currently studying the physiological relevance of the serotonergic system within the human and mouse hematopoietic tissues and how the local system contributes to the emergence of hematological pathologies from early development to adult life. 



Thursday May 18th, 2017


The relationship between brown adipose tissue and liver fat in adult humans


Speaker: Frank Ong, MSc Candidate


Frank Ong is a MSc student in Medical Sciences Graduate Program under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Morrison. His thesis explores the use of MRI in measuring brown adipose tissue (BAT) and its potential relationship with liver fat content.


Learning Objectives:
1. The use of MRI in measuring BAT volume and activity
2. Relationship between MRI measures of BAT activity and liver fat content


The impact of adiposity on maternal cardiometabolic status throughout pregnancy and 6-months postpartum

Speaker: Valerie Bertram, MSc Candidate


Valerie completed her BSc at the University of Guelph in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently completing her MSc under the supervision of Dr. Stephanie Atkinson. Her thesis is focusing on the impact of adiposity on maternal cardiometabolic status in pregnancy and postpartum.

Learning Objectives:
1. Known relationships between metabolism and maternal cardiometabolic status in pregnancy
2. The impact of adiposity on maternal metabolism and cardiometabolic status in pregnancy



Thursday May 4th, 2017


Adiposity in children with brain tumors: prevalence, predictors and interventions

Speaker: Kuan-Wen Wang, MSc Candidate


Kuan-Wen is a MSc student in Medical Sciences Graduate Program under the supervision of Dr. M. Constantine Samaan. Her thesis is focusing on evaluating the determinants of adiposity in children with brain tumors (CBT).


Learning Objectives:
1. Examine predictors of adiposity in CBT compared to non-cancer controls
2. Summarize evidence on prevalence of obesity in CBT

3. Define current interventions for obesity in CBT


The effects of Fluvastatin on type 1 diabetic skin repair and muscle regeneration 

Speaker: Irena Rebalka, PhD Candidate


Irena is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hawke. Her thesis is focused on the effects of statins and novel therapeutics on wound repair in type 1 diabetes.


Learning Objectives:
1. Introduce deficits in wound repair present in the type 1 diabetic environment

2. Examine how novel therapeutics and statins affect regeneration of diabetic tissue



5th Annual EMPhasis on Health Symposium

Date: Thursday April 20, 2017

Adipose Tissue: Regulation and Crosstalk: Featuring talks from experts in the field of Adipose Tissue

Dr. Emilio Mottillo, Wayne State University ~ Introduction to adipose tissue

Dr. David Meyre, McMaster University ~ Sex-specific patterns of genetic predisposition to obesity

Dr. Jon Schertzer, McMaster University ~ Microbiota control of adipose tissue inflammation and lipolysis

Dr. Robin Duncan, University of Waterloo ~ Phospholipids and the renal-adipose metabolic axis

Dr. Hoon-Ki Sung, Sick Kids, University of Toronto ~ VEGF in adipose tissue

Dr. Saswata Talukdar, Merck & Co. Inc. ~ FGF21 and its discovery from adipose tissue to CNS



Date: Thursday January 19, 2017

Oxidative stress and glutamate release in cancer pain

Speaker: Robert Ungard, PhD Candidate

Robert Ungard is a 2nd-year PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Gurmit Singh at McMaster
University. He researches the impact of cancer-cell derived glutamate on metastatic cancer-induced bone pain.

Subclinical atherosclerosis in children with obesity enrolled in weight management

Speaker: Jenifer Li, MSc Candidate

Jenifer completed her BSc at the University of Waterloo in the Kinesiology Co-operative Education
Program with a minor in Human Nutrition. Her current work under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Morrison involves understanding determinants of carotid-intima media thickness which is a subclinical measurement associated with atherosclerosis.



Date: Thursday February 2, 2017

The effects of short-term energy restriction on muscle protein turnover

Speaker: Amy Hector, PhD Candidate

Amy completed her BSc at McMaster in the Biochemistry Coop program. She is currently completing her PhD in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Phillips. Her thesis focuses on the effects of resistance exercise and protein on muscle protein turnover during energy restriction.

Learning Objectives:
1. Introduce muscle protein turnover
2. Examine how protein and exercise affect muscle protein turnover during dietary energy restriction

Radiosensitization of a radio-resistant prostate cancer cell line by AMPK activators metformin and salicylate

Speaker: Lindsay Broadfield, PhD Candidate

Lindsay is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg. Her thesis is focusing on the diabetic drug metformin on its anti-cancer effects in various models, and in combination with other treatments.

Learning Objectives:
1. Mechanisms involved in anti-cancer effects of metformin, salicylate, and radiation therapy
2. Effect of combining metabolic treatments with radiation on prostate cancer models



Date: Thursday February 16, 2017

Mining genetics data for translational gold: bringing genomics to the cardiovascular clinic!

Speaker: Dr. Guillaume Pare

Dr. Guillaume Pare is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University, and Director of the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory. Dr. Pare currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, as well as a CISCO Professorship. His clinical interests are centered on lipoprotein disorders, obesity and cardiovascular disease prevention. His corresponding research interests are in cardiovascular genetics, biomarker development and pharmacogenomics. These interests have led to expertise in bioinformatics, high throughput biology and genetic epidemiology.

Learning Objectives
1. Understand principles of Mendelian randomization and its application to CV care.
2. Understand genomics testing in early coronary artery disease patients.



Date: Thursday March 1, 2017


Undergraduate and graduate studnets present their research in 1 minute!



Date: Thursday March 16, 2017

Serotonin and brown fat: Negative implications and potential interventions for metabolic disease

Speaker: Alex Green, PhD Candidate

Alex Green completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in kinesiology at Queen’s and York University, respectively. Currently, he is a senior PhD candidate under the supervision of
Dr. Gregory Steinberg. He is investigating the role of serotonin on brown adipose tissue and developing novel therapeutics for treating metabolic diseases.

Learning Objectives:
1. Highlight and understand effects of serotonin or brown adipose tissue
2. Identify a novel serotonin related intervention for improving metabolic disease

Optimizing overall health in aging: The use of multi-factorial exercise and nutrition strategies

Speaker: Kirsten Bell, PhD Candidate

Kirsten completed her MSc at the University of Waterloo where she investigated the interrelationships between body composition and glucose metabolism in early stage breast cancer. She is currently a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Phillips. Kirsten's thesis examines how different
exercise modalities and nutritional supplements can be used to preserve strength, function, and lean mass in older age.

Learning Objectives:
1. Question the applicability of “one-size-fits-all” exercise and nutrition prescriptions.
2. Recognize that sarcopenic strength and lean mass losses are not the only deleterious changes that accompany aging.



Date: Thursday April 6, 2017

Communication between immune cells and metabolic tissues contributing to insulin resistance

Speaker: Dr. Amira Klip

Dr. Amira Klip holds the Tier I Canada Research Chair on Cell Biology of Insulin Action. Dr. Klip is a Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children and a Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Physiology at University of Toronto. Her interests lie in the regulation of glucose uptake into muscle by insulin and muscle contraction, and conditions conferring insulin resistance (IR). This evolved to studying the contribution of fatty environments to activation of the immune system and its
consequence on muscle and adipose tissue IR. More recently, her group has also been investigating the transfer of insulin across endothelial cells. She has directed >40 students, 47 postdoctoral fellows and published >230 papers and 80 reviews.

Learning Objectives
1. Present the usefulness of cell culture to investigate cell to cell communication in the context of obesity.
2. Discuss the immune system sensors of the obese environment.



2016 Past Events

Date: Thursday December 15, 2016

Highlights and lessons learned from working in industry, and Reprogramming of lipid metabolism in cancer cells: An opportunity for therapeutic intervention?

Speaker: Steve Pinkosky

Steve Pinkosky has worked on the discovery of small molecule regulators of lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in the pharmaceutical industry for over 12 years.He is currently a PhD candidate in Dr. Greg Steinberg’s lab at McMaster University where he is investigating novel regulatory mechanisms of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and their role in the development and treatment of atherosclerosis.

Learning Objectives

  • Share experience gained from working in pharmaceutical discovery programs.
  • Discuss the role of de novo lipogenesis in cancer and its promise as a target for phamacologic inhibition.


Date: Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Nothing burns like the cold: exploring the metabolic and therapeutic implications of cold exposure in humans

Speaker: Dr. Denis Blondin

Dr. Denis Blondin completed his PhD from the University of Ottawa in 2014. He has spent the last 3 years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Sherbrooke where his research has focused on characterizing BAT metabolism and its interaction with other organs in humans.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the metabolic responses to cold exposure.
  • Explain the therapeutic implications of cold exposure in the treatment of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertriglyceridemia.

Date: Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Dietary factors modulating postprandial protein handling

Speaker: Dr. Stefan Gorissen

Dr. Gorissen is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. He obtained his PhD degree from Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, under supervision of Prof. Luc van Loon. His research focused on dietary components that affect protein digestion and amino acid absorption kinetics, as well as muscle protein synthesis rates.His current theme of research centers on the use of stable isotope tracers to study skeletal muscle protein turnover in response to immobilization in older adults.

Learning Objectives

  • How stable isotope tracer methodology is used to assess postprandial protein handling.
  • The effects of co-ingesting carbohydrates or fat with protein as well as comparing different protein sources and protein-dense foods.
  • How the human body can adapt to habitual protein intake levels.


Date: Thursday November 17th, 2016

More than Just Muscle: Beneficial Effects of Exercise on Adipose Tissue

Speaker: Dr. David Wright

Dr. Wright is an Associate Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. Prior to coming to Guelph in 2010, Dr. Wright was an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta and completed postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Learning Objectives

1. Review the classical literature linking inflammation to insulin resistance and diabetes.

2. Discuss the role of exercise as an approach to mitigate whole body and tissue specific inflammation.

3. Evaluate the necessity of white adipose tissue for the beneficial effects of exercise on whole body metabolism.


Date: Thursday November 3, 2016

Therapeutic modulations of cancer metabolism: laboratory bench to clinical trials

Speaker: Dr. Theos Tsakiridis

Dr. Tsakiridis is a Radiation Oncologist and Scientist at the Juravinski and the Walker Family Cancer Centres and Associate Professor with the Department of Oncology, McMaster University. His research interests involve understanding radiation biology and metabolism in lung and prostate cancer. He is involved in laboratory research investigating metabolism-modulating agents as radio-sensitizers and conducts national and international clinical trials with such compounds in lung cancer.

Learning Objectives:

1. Review therapeutic challenges in lung & prostate cancer.

2. Discuss molecular response of tumors to radiotherapy & impact on tumor growth, cell cycle control and metabolism.

3. Review pre-clinical evidence supporting targeting of metabolism in combination with cytotoxic therapy & current clinical trails investigating this in lung cancer.


Date: Thursday October 20, 2016

An unconventional academic journey: from cardiovascular dynamics to muscle metabolism (and everything in between)!

Speaker: Dr. Tanya Holloway

Dr. Tanya Holloway completed her PhD in Exercise Physiology and Metabolism at the University of Guelph with Dr. Lawrence Spriet in 2015. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship, in the Netherlands with Dr. Luc van Loon, investigating the effects of exercise and nutritional interventions in aging skeletal muscle, and is currently continuing her training with Dr. Stuart Phillips at McMaster University. Between her MSc and PhD, she had the opportunity to spend 8 years doing clinical work with several chronic disease populations.

Learning Objectives:

1. Introduction the diverse situations in which exercise is effective.

2. Understand the dynamic interaction between the cardiovascular and skeletal muscle systems.


Date: Thursday October 6, 2016

EXERSOMES: Good things come in small packages

Speaker: Dr. Adeel Safdar

Dr. Adeel Safdar completed his PhD evaluating the systemic benefits of exercise in murine models of mitochondrial pathology and aging at McMaster University. His current Postdoctoral Fellowship in Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky's lab at McMaster University involves characterization of the proteins, mRNA, and MiRNA cargoed in extracellular vesicles as mediators of organ cross-talk to modulate the pro-metabolic affects of endurance exercise.

Learning Objectives:

1. Introduction to extracellular vesicles

2. Examining the role of extracellular vesicles as mediators of multisystem cross-talk


Date: Thursday September 15, 2016

Salicylate-based drugs: The mechanism of action revisited

Speaker: Dr. Brennan Smith

Dr. Brennan Smith completed his PhD investigating the regulation of skeletal muscle metabolism at the University of Guelph in 2013. His current Postdoctoral research in Dr. Gregory Steinberg's lab at McMaster University involves studying the mechanism(s) by which pharmaceuticals produce their beneficial effects.

Learning Objectives:

1. Introduce mitochondrial bioenergetics

2. Examine how salsalate reduces type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)


Date: Monday August 15, 2016

Brown Adipose Tissue in Humans: embracing the cold and the controversies in targeting BAT for the management of metabolic diseases

Speaker: Denis P. Blondin, Posdoctoral Fellow (University of Sherbrooke)


Date: Thursday June 16, 2016

Defining the roles of Xin, a striated muscle specific protein, in skeletal muscle

Presented by: Dhuha Al-Saji, PhD (Candidate)

Dhuha received her medical degree from Al-Nahrain University, College of Medicine in Baghdad, Iraq. She then went on to complete speciality training in Anatomical Pathology. She is currently a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hawke, studying the roles of Xin in skeletal muscle.

Determining the Impact of NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation in Statin Myopathy

Presented by: Emily Li, MSc (Candidate)

Emily completed her BSc at McMaster University in the Biology and Pharmacology Program. She is currently completing her MSc in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Schertzer. Her thesis is focused on understanding how the NLRP3 immune receptor might contribute to statin-induced muscle pain.


Date: Thursday May 19, 2016

Obesity predisposing genes and risk of type 2 diabetes in a multiethnic study

Presented by:Adeola Ishola, MSc (Candidate)

Adeola Ishola completed her BSc at McMaster University in Biology and is currently completing her MSc in Medical Science under the supervision of Dr. David Meyre. Her thesis examines the pleiotropic effect of obesity predisposing genes on metabolic complications in multiethnic populations.

The role of AMPK in Placental Angiogenesis

Presented by: Patrick Rodriguez, MSc (Candidate)

Patrick completed his B.Sc. in Medical Sciences at Brock University and is currently completing his M.Sc. in Medical Sciences at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Sandeep Raha. His thesis focuses on the role of AMPK in placental angiogenesis and how manipulating AMPK activity leads to alterations in angiogenic processes in vitro.


Date: Thursday May 5, 2016

Reactive oxygen species in health and disease: toxins or essential signals?

Presented by: Dr. Christopher Perry, PhD

Dr. Christopher Perry is from the Muscle Health Research Centre at York University, where he is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology. His group examines the role of mitochondria as critical regulators of muscle metabolism and redox homeostasis in various models, including exercise and muscle wasting diseases (muscular dystrophies and cancer cachexia). The goal of his research is to use metabolic-redox signaling in adaptive processes as a foundation to test novel therapeutics for the treatment of mitochondrial-linked pathologies.


EMPhasis Symposium 2016



Date: Thursday April 7, 2016

Metabolic flexibility in children with obesity: Exercise as a screening test and a treatment

Presented by: Lisa Chu, PhD (Candidate)

Lisa Chu completed her BSc in Kinesiology at McMaster University and went on to complete her MSc at York University. There, she worked with a collaborative childhood obesity research team at SickKids hospital. She then returned to McMaster for her PhD in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Brian Timmons. Her thesis focuses on metabolic flexibility during exercise in children.

Metabolism of intrinsically labeled egg proteins at rest and after endurance exercise

Presented by: Michael Mazzulla, MSc (Candidate)

Michael Mazulla completed his BSc at York University in Kinesiology and Health Science and is currently completing his MSc in Exercise Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Dan Moore at the University of Toronto. His thesis examines the metabolism of intrinsically labeled egg proteins at rest and after endurance exercise.


Date: Thursday March 17, 2016

Optimizing the Metholodogy for the Detection of Brown Adipose Tissue using Infared Thermography

Speaker: Tahniyah Haq, MSc (Candidate)

Tahniyah Haq completed her medical degree and trained in adult Endocrinology at the University of Dhaka in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is currently completing her Master's degree in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg. Her thesis focuses on optimizing the methology for the measurement of brown adipose tissue in adult humans.

Fatty Acid Profiles in Nutrition Sources and Blood for Newborn Infants

Speaker: Arum Choi, MSc (Candidate)

Arum Choi completed her H.BSc in Life Sciences at McMaster University. She is currently completing her MSc in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Christoph Fusch. Her thesis focuses on fatty acid profiles in nutrition sources and plasma in order to understand the condition of high triglyceride levels in newborn infants.


Date: Thursday March 10, 2016

Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Brown Adipose Tissue

Speaker: Dr. Charlie McKenzie, PhD

Dr. Charles McKenzie is an Associate Professor of Medical Biophysics visiting from the SchulichSchool of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University. He is currently the Canada Research Chair in Translational Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research and holds Associate Scientist appointments at the Children's Health Research Institute, RobartsResearch Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario. Dr. McKenzie’s talk will discuss methods of using MRI to identify brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots, quantify their change over time, and explore emerging methods to use MRI to investigate BAT metabolism.


Date: Thursday March 3, 2016

Salsalate reduces atherosclerois via an AMPK β1 dependent pathway

Speaker: Emily Day, MSc (Candidate

Emily Day completed her H.BSc here at McMaster University in Biochemistry with and specialization in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently completing her Master's Degree in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg examining the role of AMPK in the development of atherosclerosis.

Predicting Preterm Infants' Individual Growth Trajectories Using an Innovative Growth Trajectory Calculator Tool

Speaker: Erin Landau-Crangle, MSc (Candidate)

Erin completed her H.BSc in Life Sciences at McMaster, and is currently completing her MSc in
Medical Sciences with Dr. Christoph Fusch in the Division of Neonatology. Her thesis focuses on
characterizing growth of preterm infants. Erin is developing a “Growth Trajectory Calculator” tool to
predict individualized growth trajectories in order to prevent negative health outcomes in later life.


Date: Thursday January 28, 2016

Thermogenic control of brown and beige fat mitochondria

Speaker: Dr. Lawrence Kazak, PhD

Dr. Lawrence Kazak is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Bruce Spiegelman at Harvard Medical School. His research interests are focused on energy homeostasis in mammals, primarily at the level of mitochondrial metabolism. He obtained his Ph.D. from Cambridge University where he worked in the laboratory of Ian J. Holt, studying DNA replication and protein trafficking in mitochondria. During his postdoctoral research, he has identified a thermogenic role for creatinein brown and beige adipose tissue. His current research efforts are directed towards the development of genetic mouse models and metabolic tracing methods to elucidate the molecular determinants of adipose thermogenesis and to delineate the role of this process in promoting metabolic health.


Date: Thursday January 21, 2016

More than Gluco-Regulation? Cardio-Renal Hemodynamic Effect(s) of Anti-Hyperglycemic Agents

Speaker: Dr. Julie A. Lovshin, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Lovshin is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Toronto in the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital. She received her medical degree and specialized in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology and Metabolism from the University of Toronto. There, she also obtained her PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Drucker, where she studied GLP-2, GLP-1 and gut hormones. She is now completing a post-doctoral research fellowship in Human Clinical Investigation. Her current research focuses on defining mechanisms of cardio-renal effect(s) of incretin-based diabetes therapies and SGLT-2 inhibitors in patients with Diabetes Mellitus.



Date: Thursday January 7, 2016

Role of Energy Sensing Pathways in Adipose Tissue

Time: 12-1 pm

Speaker: Dr. Emilio Mottillo

Dr. Mottillo completed his PhD at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he received CIHR doctoral funding. There, he studied the enzymes involved in lipid hydrolysis, focusing on mechanisms by which white fat is converted to brown adipose tissue. With the goal of further understanding energy sensing pathways in adipose tissue, Dr. Mottillo pursued post-doctoral training at McMaster University with Dr. Gregory Steinberg. He is currently looking at the role of important energy sensor AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) in adipose tissue. He is funded by a post-doctoral fellowship from the Canadian Diabetes Association.


2015 Past Events

Date: Thursday December 17, 2015

The effects of obesity on adipose tissue resident stem cells

Speaker: Dr. Eva Szabo, PhD

Eva SzaboDr. Eva Szabo joined McMaster University in the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI) as Assistant Professor in January 2013. Dr. Szabo's overarching research aim is to understand the molecular and functional aspects involved in the development of obesity, as well as establish alternative treatment strategies to alleviate its burden and downstream complications, such as Type 2 diabetes and neuropathy. She currently holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Metabolism in Human Stem Cells and Cancer Development.

Date: Thursday December 3, 2015

Transcriptional control of brown and beige adipose cell fate

Visiting Speaker: Dr. Patrick Seale, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Patrick Seale

Dr. Patrick Seale is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his PhD from McMaster University in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Rudnicki. He went on to do postdoctoral research with Bruce Spiegelman at Harvard Medical School. There, he identified PRDM16 as a dominant driver of brown fat cell differentiation and discovered that brown fat and muscle originate from a common lineage during development. His current research program continues to focus on the molecular mechanisms that control the biology of adipose tissues and on the role of brown fat in metabolic disease.

Date: Thursday November 19, 2015

New insights into mechanisms of vascular calcification

Visiting Speaker: Dr. Gabriel Gyulay, PhD

Dr. Gabriel GyulayDr. Gabriel Gyulay completed his doctoral degree in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics under the supervision of Dr. Suleiman Igdoura at McMaster University. He is currently pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hamilton Centre for Kidney Research with Dr. Richard Austin, where he is examining molecular mechanisms of vascular calcification and its role in renal disease and metabolic syndrome. His talk will outline novel cellular and molecular targets of calcification in disease progression.

Date: Thursday November 5, 2015

Postnatal catch-up grown and the Metabolic Syndrome: Elucidating the underlying mechanism

Visiting Speaker: Dr. Daniel Hardy, PhD

Dr. Daniel HardyDr. Daniel Hardy is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Ob/Gyn and Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University. After completing his PhD at Western University, he pursued a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he focused on actions of steroid hormone receptors. Since returning to Canada, he has been recognized as the 2014 "Scientist of the Year" by Children's Health Research Institute. His current laboratory examines the molecular mechanisms underlying the fetal origins of adult onset diseases.

Date: Thursday October 15, 2015

Therapeutic potential of heat shock protein induction for muscle wasting disorders

Visiting Speaker: Dr. Gordon Lynch, PhD, FACSM, CSCS

Dr. Gordon Lynch

Dr. Lynch is from the University of Melbourne, where he is the head of the Department of Physiology. He presented an update on the therapeutic potential of the small molecule BGP-15 for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and described the 'window of opportunity' for different interventions for this and related muscle wasting disorders, including a role for exercise.

Date: Thursday October 1, 2015

Impact of Diabetes Melittus and Associated Changes on the Satellite Cell

Speaker: Donna D'souza, PhD Candidate

Donna D’souza completed her MSc. at York University studying mitochondrial biogenesis, and is currently completing her PhD in Medical Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hawke. Her thesis examines the relationship
between Diabetes Mellitus and the skeletal muscle satellite cell.

Identifying new genetic variants of obesity in multi-ethnic cohorts from both body adiposity index (BAI) and body mass index (BMI)

Speaker: FerestehTabatabaei, MSc Candidate

Feresteh Tabatabeai completed her BSc at McMaster University in Life Sciences with a minor in psychology. She went on to complete a BHS in Health Management at York University before returning to McMaster for a MSc in Medical Sciences focusing on genetic epidemiology of obesity with Dr. David Meyre. Her thesis will focus
on the discovery of new genetic variants of obesity.

Date: Thursday June 11, 2015

Drowning in data and Gasping for Air: Understanding Human Responses to Hypoxia

Speaker: Martin MacInnis, PhD

Dr. Martin MacInnis is an NSERC postdoctoral fellow in the Exercise Metabolism Research Group (Department of Kinesiology, McMaster). His research is focused on human physiology in the contexts of hypoxia and exercise. As part of his PhD, Martin conducted research in the Himalayas and Andes focused on acute altitude illness. He is currently investigating the process of skeletal muscle remodelling in response to various aerobic training protocols.

panagliflozin Potentially Activates AMPK and Inhibits the Growth and Survival of Cancer Cellsp

Speaker: Linda Villani, MSc Candidate

Linda completed her HBSc in Biology at York University and is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg and Dr. Theos Tsakiridis at McMaster. She will be presenting her work on the anti-cancer effects of new medications currently used for the treatment of diabetes.

Date: Thursday May 21, 2015

Remission of Type 2 Diabetes: Insights from the REMIT Pilot Trial

Speaker: Natalia McInnes, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Natalia McInnes

Natalia McInnes received her medical degree from the University of British Columbia in 2004. She pursued an MSc in Health Research Methodology at McMaster University and was recently hired as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine. Her research interests include remission of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, and the relationship between dysglycemia and ectopic fat deposition.

Date: Thursday April 30, 2015

R419 Improves Exercise Capacity, Mitochondrial Function, and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Mice

Speaker: Katarina Marcinko, PhD (Candidate)

Katarina Marcinko completed her MSc at McMaster University, and is currently completing her PhD in the Medical Sciences Graduate Program under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg. Her thesis examines the effects of AMPK activation in high-fat diet induced insulin resistance.

AMPK and Autophagy: Connecting Glucose Metabolism and Muscle Integrity

Speaker: Adam Bujak, PhD (Candidate)

Adam Bujak is currently completing his PhD in the Medical Sciences Graduate Program under the supervision of Dr. Gregory Steinberg. Adam will be presenting work on his research investigating how energetic stress and autophagy regulates fastinginduced glycemia and muscle health during aging.

Date: Thursday April 30, 2015

The Effects of Olanzapine on Trophoblast Function

Speaker: Robyn Pereira, MSc (Candidate)

Robyn Pereira completed her BSc in Biology at Queen's University, and is currently completing her MSc in the Medical Sciences Graduate Programme under the supervision of Dr. Sandy Raha. She will be presenting her work on understanding how an antipsychotic drug impacts placenta developement.

Individualized Fortification of Breast Milk and Body Composition in Preterm Infants

Speaker: Anaam Ali, MSc (Candidate)

Anaam Ali completed her BSc in Life Sciences at McMaster University, and is currently completing her MSc in the Medical Sciences Graduate Programme under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Fusch. Her research focuses on neonatal nutrition and body composition.

3rd Annual EMPhasis on Health Symposium - sponsored by MAC-Obesity


Date: Thursday April 23, 2015

2015 EMPHasis on Health Symposium

Date: Thursday April 2, 2015

The role of phospholamban in skeletal muscle health – insights from PlnOE mice

Speaker: Val Fajardo, PhD (Candidate), University of Waterloo

Val completed his MSc degree with Dr. Paul LeBlanc at Brock University, and is currently completing his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Russell Tupling at the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on Ca2+ regulation in skeletal muscle health and disease.

Cold-Stimulated Supraclavicular Skin Temperature as a Measure of BAT Activity and its Relation to Child Health

Speaker: Sarah Kanji, MSc (Candidate)

Sarah completed her HBSc in Biology at McMaster University, and is currently completing her MSc under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Morrison. She will be presenting her work on understanding the role of brown
adipose tissue in child health.

Investigating the link between the p53 and AMPK signalling pathways in a mouse model of T cell lymphoma

Speaker: Vanessa Houde, Ph.D.

Date: Thursday March 19, 2015

Vanessa HoudeDr. Vanessa Houde completed her PhD under the supervision of Dr. André Marette at Laval University. Following this, Dr. Houde completed her first post doctoral fellowship at the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee (Scotland) with Dr. Dario Alessi. She is currently completing her second postdoctoral fellowship under the co-supervision of Drs. Gregory Steinberg and Paola Muti at McMaster University.

Nutritional and Exercise Strategies to Attenuate Sarcopenia

Speaker: Michaela Devries-Aboud, Ph.D.

Date: Thursday March 5, 2015

Michaela DevriesDr. Michaela Devries completed her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky at McMaster University. She worked clinically for 4 years with a family health team (FHT), and then returned to McMaster in 2013 to begin a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Stuart Phillips in the Department of Kinesiology. Dr. Devries will be presenting work outlining how resistance exercise, protein and nutritional supplements can help offset the declines in muscle mass and strength that accompany aging.

Role of SIRT1 in Vascular Complications of Diabetes

Speaker: Rokhsana Mortuza, Ph.D.

Date: Thursday February 19, 2015

Dr. Rokhsana Mortuza completed her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Subrata Chakrabarti at Western University. She is currently completing her postdoctural research with Dr. Gregory Steinberg at McMaster University. Dr. Mortuza will be presenting her PhD work on identifying a novel SIRT-mediated rapid aging process in diabetes leading to renal and retinal damage.

<3>microRNAs: Pleiotropic Small Non-Coding Factors in Cancer Therapy

Speaker: Giovanni Blandino, M.D., M.Sc.

Date: Thursday February 5, 2015

Giovanni BlandinoDr. Blandino is currently the Head of the Translational Oncogenomics Laboratory in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the Regina Elena Cancer Institute in Rome, Italy. His research seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms of gain-of-function mutant p53 proteins. More recently, his research focuses on microRNAs as both powerful biomarkers for prevention and treatment of human tumours, and non-coding mediators of metformin-induced anti-cancer metabolic effects.

PCG-1α and Autophagy, friends with metabolic benefits

Date: Thursday January 22, 2015

Speaker: Anna Vainshtein

Anna VainshteinAnna Vainshtein is a doctoral student in the lab of Dr. David Hood at York University. The objective of her work is to ascertain the role of the transcriptional co-activator PGC-1α in the regulation of autophagy in skeletal muscle. Autophagy is a recycling mechanism that is vital for cellular homeostasis and is activated during metabolic and contractile alterations in muscle. The main focus of her research is to investigate how PGC-1α modulates autophagy and co-ordinates the fine-tuning of mitochondrial density during muscle disuse, nutrient deprivation and exercise.

2014 Past Events


Date: Thursday December 18, 2014

Each year, the CON-SNP @ Mac and MAC-Obesity Research Program host an exciting event called Research Blitz. The Annual Research Blitz is an opportunity for graduate students to speak about their research in one minute. Each year, close to 20 graduate students from various faculties across campus participate. The Blitz provides a great opportunity to learn about the wide array of nutrition, obesity and exercise related research being conducted at the university, and also connects graduate students with their peers.

Cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance: Ceramide disrupts cellular traffic and insulin-responsiveness of GLUT4 in muscle cells

Date: Thursday December 4, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Kevin Foley, PhD

Kevin FoleyDr. Kevin Foley completed his PhD in the department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto studying mechanisms regulating the intracellular sorting of GLUT4 in muscle cells under the supervision of Dr. Amira Klip. His current postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Schertzer at McMaster University involves studying how NOD proteins link inflammation to obesity-induced insulin resistance.

A MPK — A Key Regulator of Energy Homeostasis with Roles in Diabetes, Cancer and Inflammatory Disease

Date: Tuesday November 25, 2014

Speaker: Professor D. Grahame Hardie, Division of Cell Signalling and Immunology (CSI), College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Scotland

Grahame HardieDr. Hardie is one of the world's preeminent biochemists. His discovery and naming of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) 27 years ago has had an impact all nearly areas of biology. His subsequent discoveries that AMPK was activated by exercise and many commonly used medications have had a profound effect on our understanding of metabolism in health and disease.

AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key regulator of energy balance at the cellular and whole body levels that is expressed in essentially all eukaryotic cells. The target-of-rapamycin (mTORC1) and AMPK systems are mutually antagonistic signalling pathways whose regulation are intricately linked, and which may both have arisen very early during eukaryotic evolution. AMPK is activated by starvation for glucose and other stresses that deplete cellular ATP, as well as by many drugs and natural products with medicinal properties. The latter include the anti-diabetic drug metformin that was derived from a herbal remedy, the natural product salicylate from which aspirin was derived, and many compounds used in traditional Asian medicines. Given the fundamental role of AMPK is modulating cell metabolism, it is not surprising that it has key roles in chronic human diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and inflammatory disease.

AMPK-mediated neuromuscular plasticity in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Date: Thursday November 20, 2014

Speaker: Vladimir Ljubicic, PhD

Vladimir Ljubicic, PhD

Dr. Vladimir Ljubicic is an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Neuromuscular Plasticity in Health and Disease in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. His laboratory investigates mechanisms of neuromuscular maintenance and remodelling, with an emphasis on identifying new therapeutic targets for neuromuscular disorders. A goal of his research is to decipher how interventions such as physical activity, experimental small molecules, and common generic medications can be used to slow, prevent, or reverse neuromuscular pathologies.

Prevention of Metabolic Dysregulation and Atherosclerosis by Dietary Flavonoids

Date: Thursday November 6, 2014

Speaker: Murray Huff, PhD

Dr. Murray Huff is currently a Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, and the Director of the Vascular Biology Research Group at the Robarts Research Institute at Western University. His research focuses on the relationship between lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis. Through his research, Dr. Huff has elucidated the action of a variety of cholesterol-lowering drugs, including statins.

Murray Huff

The Impact of n-3 PUFA on Human Skeletal Muscle Mass

Date: Thursday October 23, 2014

Speaker: Chris McGlory, PhD

Dr. Chris McGlory completed his PhD investigating the impact of n-3 PUFA supplementation on muscle protein synthetic response to feeding and exercise at the University of Stirling, Scotland. His current postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Phillips involves investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of muscle disuse atrophy as well as nutritional interventions aimed at combatting muscle mass loss with age.

Chris McGlory

Why Obesity Is A Disease

Date: Monday October 6, 2014

Speaker: Arya Sharma, MD/PhD, DSc (hc), FRCPC

Dr. Arya Sharma was recruited in 2002 from Humbolt University, Berlin, Germany to a Canada Research Chair (Tier1) in Cardiovascular Obesity and Management at McMaster University. In 2007, he accepted a position as professor and Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta, where he is also the Medical Director of the Edmonton Regional Bariatric Program. In 2005, he spearheaded the launch of the Canadian Obesity Network. His research focuses on an evidence-based approach to managing obese patients.

Arya Sharma

Anti-Oncogenic Effects of Endurance Exercise are Mediated by PGC-1α-Dependent Myokine: Old Player, New Games

Date: Thursday September 11, 2014

Speaker: Adeel Safdar, Ph.D.

Dr. Adeel Safdar completed his PhD studies under the supervision of Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky at McMaster University. His doctoral work focused on investigating the endurance exercise-mediated therapeutic modulation of systemic mitochondrial biogenesis in aging. His recent postdoctoral research with Dr. Zoltan Arany at Harvard Medical School involved deciphering the molecular cues underlying the anti-tumorigenic effects of endurance exercise. Dr. Safdar will present data on a PGC-1α-dependent myokine that mitigates breast cancer and melanoma.

Adeel Safdar

Life After Grad School: Academia or Industry?

Contibuting to Heathcare from Outside the Clinic: A Health Consulting Perspective

Date: Thursday June 5, 2014

Speaker: Imtiaz Samjoo, PhD

Dr. Imtiaz Samjoo completed his graduate research (MSc, PhD) at McMaster University investigating the influence of adiposity and mitochondrial DNA mutations on continuous glucose monitoring, endurance exercise and intramyocellular lipid content and their roles in insulin signalling. Currently, Imtiaz is an experienced healthcare professional, specializing in health economics and outcomes research, reimbursement and market access strategy, medical communications, and medical marketing at a private healthcare consulting firm.

My Journey Through Academia to Healthcare and Back

Speaker: Michaela Devries-Aboud, PhD

Dr. Michaela Decries-Aboud completed her PhD at McMaster University with Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky investigating the effects of sex, estrogen and obesity on carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Michaela then worked with the Program in Evidence-Based Care at McMaster University and the Guelph Family Health Team. Michaela decided to return to academia and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Stuart Phillips in the Department of Kinesiology where she is investigating how nutrition and physical activity/inactivity influences muscle protein synthesis and muscle mass in older adults.

Date: Thursday May 29, 2014


Skeletal Muscle Adaptations to a High Fat Diet

Speaker: Melissa Thomas, PhD

Dr. Melissa Thomas completed her PhD investigating adaptations of aged skeletal and cardiac muscle to exercise training at the University of Calgary. Her current postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Hawke at McMaster University involves studying the effect of high fat diet on skeletal muscle health and response to injury. Dr. Thomas will present on adaptations of growing skeletal muscle to a high fat diet.

Melissa Thomas

Sleep, Physical Activity and Cardiometablic Health in Overweight/Obese Adolescents

Speaker: Anna Romashkin, MSc Candidate

Anna is a second year Master's student in Dr. Katherine Morrison's lab, completing her undergraduate HBSc at the University of Toronto in Physiology and Human Biology. Her current research focuses on sleep and its relationship with physical activity and metabolic health in overweight youth enrolled in lifestyle management programs.

Anna Romashkin

Nutrition and Cancer

Date: Thursday May 15, 2014

Speaker: Anne Gilsing, PhD

Anne Gilsing recently completed her PhD in nutritional cancer epidemiology at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. During her PhD, she worked for five months at the US National Cancer Institute. Her research involves the investigation of dietary components (in particular meat consumption) and their relation to the development of cancer. Anne will present result from her doctoral studies.



Date: Thursday April 17, 2014

Speakers: Deborah Slobada, PhD; Katherine Morrison, MD; Stephanie Atkinson, PhD; Sonia Anand, MD, PhD and Special Guest Speaker from Brock University - Wendy Ward, PhD

Early Origins of Health and Disease Symposium

The Neuropsychology Behind Memory, Mood and Cognition

Date: Thursday April 3, 2014

Speaker: Maria Restivo, Ph.D. Candidate

Maria Restivo graduated from the University of Toronto with a joint degree in Biochemistry and Psychology. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in clinical neuroscience at McMaster University. Her research interests include the interactions between weight and cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and mood disorders, and the application of brain imaging techniques in understanding cerebral mechanisms underlying the neurobiology of psychiatric illness.

Maria Restivo

Identification of Non-Traditional Adaptations to Exercise that Counter the Aging Process

Date: Thursday March 20, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Justin Crane, Ph.D.

Dr. Justin Crane completed his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University. He subsequently completed his Master's degree at Ball State University and his PhD at McMaster University studying the effects of aging and exercise on mitochondrial metabolism. Dr. Crane is currently working as a post-doctoral fellow in the MAC-Obesity research group studying the regulation of brown adipose tissue in obesity.

Justin Crane

Bone Adaptation to Mechanical Loading and Damage

Date: Thursday March 6, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Gregory Wohl, Ph.D.

Dr. Gregory Wohl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at McMaster University. His research focuses on adaptation of bone to external stimuli and the influence of diet and pharmaceutical therapies. Dr. Wohl will present his research on the effects of obesity and a high fat diet on bone repair and adaptation.

Dr. Gregory Wohl

Lipolytic Products Integrate Metabolism in Brown and White Fat

Date: Thursday February 20, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Emilio Mottillo, Ph.D.

Dr. Emilio Mottillo completed his undergraduate and Masters degree at the University of Windsor. He then completed his Ph.D. at Wayne State University under the supervision of Dr. James Grannemnan, where he studied the pathways that convert white fat to brown fat. Dr. Mottillo is now working with Dr. Greg Steinberg at McMaster University examining the role of AMPK in adipose tissue.

Mottillo EMPhasis on Health

Mitochondrial Metabolism in Muscle and Inflammatory Tissue

Date: Thursday February 6, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Brennan Smith, PhD

Dr. Brennan Smith completed his PhD investigating the regulation of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation at the University of Guelph. His current postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Greg Steinberg at McMaster University involves studying the regulation of immunometabolism. Dr. Smith will present on mitochondrial metabolism in skeletal muscle and inflammatory tissue.

Dr. Brennan Smith

"My research on lipid metabolism: from undergrad to now"

Date: Thursday January 16, 2014

Speaker: Dr. Morgan Fullerton, Ph.D.

Dr. Fullerton completed his PhD work at the University of Guelph, investigating phospholipid metabolism. His postdoctural work has involved characterizing the role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling in metabolic disease. He will be starting his own research program at the University of Ottawa this summer.

Morgan Fullerton EMPhasis on Health

2013 Past Events

Topics in Child Health and Obesity

Date: Thursday November 28, 2013

Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Obesity in the Offspring: Role of Gut Microbiota

Speaker: Harriet Law

Harriet Law is a MSc student in the Department of Medical Sciences, working under the supervision of Dr. Alison Holloway. She developed an interest in the developmental origins of health and disease during her undergrad in Biology at McMaster University. Harriet's current research focuses on understanding the metabolic outcomes of offspring exposed to antidepressants in utero.

Depression and its Determinants in Children and Adolescents with Obesity

Speaker: Sabina Shin

Sabina Shin is a MSc student in the Department of Medical Sciences, working under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Morrison. She completed her undergraduate degree in Honours Biology at McMaster University. Sabina's research focuses on the influence of sociodemographic and biological factors on depression in youth enrolled in a weight management program.

EMPhasis on Health Student Seminar 2013

Perinatal Nephron Programming is Not So Sweet in Maternal Diabetes

Date: Thursday November 14, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Shao-Ling Zhang, Ph.D.

Dr. Shao-Ling Zhang is an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal. She obtained her Bachelor of Medicine from Shanghai Medical University, and her MSc and PhD from the Université de Montréal. Dr. Zhang then completed her post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School before being recruited back to the Université de Montréal as an independent investigator. Her research focus includes maternal diabetes and perinatal programming of kidney and cardiovascular disease.

EMPhasis on Health Dr. Zhang

Cytochome B5 Heme Binding Domain D2 (CYB5D2) and its associated functions. A new player in P450 cytochome arena

Date: Thursday October 31, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Anthony Bruce, Ph.D.

Dr. Anthony Bruce received his Masters degree in Molecular Biology of Cancer under the supervision of Dr. Andre Bedard at York University. He recently completed his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Damu Tang in the Department of Medicine, Cancer and Genetics at McMaster University. Dr. Bruce will discuss the characterization of a novel microsomal heme binding protein that modulates sterol synthesis through the cytochrome P450 system.

Dr. Anthony Bruce EMPhasis on Health Seminar

Mechanisms of p53-induced Mitochondrial Biogenesis of Skeletal Muscle

Date: Thursday October 3, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Ayesha Saleem, Ph.D.

Dr. Ayesha Saleem is a postdoctural fellow at McMaster University and completed her Ph.D. at York University under the supervision of Dr. David Hood. Ayesha's research focuses on the tumor suppressor protein p53 and its involvement in regulating mitochondrial function and exercise capacity. Her talk will provide mechanistic insight into the role of p53 in determining basal and exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle.

New Role of an Old Player: Neutrophils in Immunometabolism

Date: Thursday September 12, 2013

Speaker: Dr. Saswata Talukdar, PhD

Dr. Saswata Talukdar completed his doctoral studies at West Virginia University investigating metabolism and pathophysiology associated with metabolic dysfunction. During his postdoctural training at the University of California, he left behind in vitro work and became an in vivo physiologist. Dr. Talukdar is currently a principle scientist at Pfizer conducting research on treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus.

EMPhasis on health seminar

EMPHasis on health