Genetics - Currently Funded
Ms. Accalia Fu (Doctoral Student Research Award funded 2010-2013)
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa, ON)
Supervisor: Dr. Robert A. Screaton
Title: The role of Lkb1 and Mark2 in regulation of beta cell mass and insulin secretion
Ms. Accalia Fu is investigating a protein, called Lkb1. When Lkb1 is missing from pancreatic beta cells, the cells are protected from fat-induced damage. Ms. Fu is investigating what genes are involved in this process, and how these genes help regulate glucose levels in the body.
Dr. Jill Hamilton (Operating Grant funded 2012-2015)
The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, ON)
Title: Epigenetic Changes in DNA of Infants Exposed to Gestational Diabetes in utero
Babies whose mothers have had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) have a higher risk of developing obesity and diabetes later in life. Being exposed to their mothers' blood sugars during pregnancy might cause changes in the baby's DNA, which might in turn change how blood glucose and insulin (the hormone that regulates blood glucose) are regulated in the developing baby. Dr. Jill Hamilton and her team will follow groups of children whose mothers did and did not have gestational diabetes, by comparing their growth, body fat, blood samples and DNA. This study may shed new light on why children born to mothers with diabetes are at greater risk for later obesity and diabetes.
Dr. Marie-France Hivert (Clinician Scientist Award funded 2011-2016)
University of Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, QC)
Title: Evaluation of contributing heritable and environmental factors to adipokine and glycemic regulation variability during pregnancy and fetal development
Diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) increases the risk of complications in both the mother and the baby, during pregnancy, delivery, and for many years after. Children born from a mother who had diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk for future obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Dr. Hivert is evaluating the influence of genes on glucose, insulin, and fat-related hormone levels in pregnant women and in newborns, taking into account environmental factors. This research will lead to a better understanding of genetic and environmental factors influencing glucose regulation during pregnancy and the future risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in offspring. It also could lead to better ways to prevent and treat obesity and diabetes in future generations.
Dr. James D. Johnson (Operating Grant funded 2011-2014)
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
Title: Novel pathways in fatty acid-induced beta-cell death: Gene-environment interactions.
One of the causes of type 2 diabetes is an increase in pancreatic beta cell death, leading to insufficient levels of insulin in the body. Dr. Johnson is trying to determine how high levels of fat in the blood kill these beta cells in type 2 diabetes. This research will improve our understanding of the underlying causes of diabetes, for example, which genes are required for beta cell survival in the presence of high levels of fat, and it may eventually lead to new strategies for the prevention and management of diabetes.
Dr. Timothy J. Kieffer (Operating Grant funded 2011-2014)
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
Title: Islet Gene Therapy for Diabetes
It has just recently become possible to deliver therapeutic genes directly and specifically to pancreatic beta cells using a viral vector. Dr. Kieffer is planning to use this viral vector to deliver to beta cells a protein, called GLP-1, that can improve their survival and function, and a second protein, IDO, that can protect them from immune attack. This research could ultimately lead to new strategies to cure type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Stéphanie-May Ruchat (Postdoctoral Fellowship Award funded 2012-2014)
University of Sherbrooke (Chicoutimi, QC)
Supervisors: Dr. Luigi Bouchard and Dr. Marie-France Hivert
Title: Genome-wide DNA methylation and expression analyses in placenta of newborn exposed to gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) affects 6.5 to 18 per cent of pregnancies in Canada. Children born from a mother who had diabetes during pregnancy are at higher risk of developing obesity and diabetes later in life. How this increased risk is caused has not yet been clearly identified; however, changes in the genetic code (called DNA methylation) that cause genes to be turned "on" or "off" have been suggested as a very likely cause. Dr. Stephanie-May Ruchat is comparing DNA methylation in the placentas of mothers with and without gestational diabetes. She will test whether gestational diabetes causes changes in DNA methylation. This research will allow Dr. Ruchat to better understand how gestational diabetes influences the child's long-term risk of obesity and diabetes.
© 2012 Copyright Canadian Diabetes Association