Overview

My research interests relate to underlying mechanisms of nutrition and disease risk. I am eager to contribute to targeted and population-based prevention strategies of chronic diseases. My research specifically focuses on B-vitamins and their functions in human metabolism. B-vitamins are essential nutrients for normal cell growth and the nervous system and thus have an impact on human health from the embryo to the older adult. Low folate and/or vitamin B-12 status may yield pregnancy complications, low birth weight, and cognitive impairment.

The overarching theme of my research is nutrient adequacy. My current research projects focus on maternal-fetal nutrient dependency, periconceptional vitamin adequacy, and the role of maternal and infant nutrition on growth and development. In the UBC Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory that I established, my team has set up a wide array of externally validated analytical methods. One of our goals is to identify sensitive nutritional biomarkers for early diagnosis of micronutrient inadequacies. With the use of stable-isotope-tracer-protocols, we are able to investigate metabolic and functional consequences of nutrient inadequacies and imbalances. The studies help evaluate optimal vitamin intake to maintain biochemical functions. I am specifically interested in the metabolic effects of folic acid and less than optimal vitamin B-12 intake.

Research

DERiVE: DEvelopment of Riboflavin biomarkers to relate dietary sources with status, gene-nutrient Interactions and Validated health Effects in adult cohorts (JPI-HDHL)
Vitamin B2 plays a crucial role in human development and health across the lifespan. Recently, an increase in vitamin B2
intake was suggested to having a reducing effect on blood pressure. In most countries, there is little or no knowledge about
the vitamin B2 nutrition status of the population due to the lack of convenient blood indicators and assessment tools. Dietary
records are the sole source of information for most countries; however these do not reflect the biochemical status of the
population which is a better indicator of health effects.
In this international and multidisciplinary project, we aim to develop accessible blood indicators for vitamin B2 status
assessment and identify which most sensitively reflect dietary intakes and food sources of vitamin B2 in Irish and Canadian
adults. We will also demonstrate an important health effect of vitamin B2 by investigating its role in modulating blood
pressure via a novel gene-nutrient interactive effect.
In summary, sub-optimal vitamin B2 status may be more widespread than is generally recognized across the developed
world, because of the reliance on dietary data only in nutrition surveys, without blood indicator evidence. This project will
address this gap by developing accessible vitamin B2 blood indicators for use in population surveys globally, and by
demonstrating important functional, gene-nutrient and health effects of optimal vitamin B2 status in Canadian, Irish and UK
cohorts.
JPI-HDHL Call "Biomarkers in Nutrition and Health"; CIHR Team Grant (PI: Yvonne Lamers)
Webpage: www.derive-riboflavin.com

Research Group Members

Alisha Buttar, Undergraduate Student
Emily Chau, Volunteer
Chloe Chong, Research Assistant
Jodi Denbok, Research Nurse
Sharan Gill, Research Assistant
Gillian Hayes, Volunteer
Gloria Ho, Master's Student
Levina Ira, Volunteer
Alyssa Kowbel, Volunteer
Emily LI, Volunteer
Angella Lee, Summer Student
Lucy Lee, Volunteer
Vivian Liang, Volunteer
Jon Lin, Volunteer
Stephanie Mar, Volunteer
Cara Mayer, Research Assistant
Larisse Melo, Master's Student & Clinical Trainee
Kate Merchant, Research Assistant
Sarah Montgomery, Doctoral Trainee
Nadia Moran Garcia, Postdoctoral Fellow
Maria Fernanda Mujica, Doctoral Student, Doctoral Student
Clementine Ng, Volunteer
Ednelyn Pineda, Volunteer
Rachelyn Ritchie, Research Assistant
Larissa Rossen, Research Assistant
Monique Sanhdu, Work Learn Student
Nasime Sarbar, Research Assistant
Carolina Sasai, Volunteer
Cassie Sauer, Volunteer
Ricky Singh, Research Assistant
Mikaela Stewart, Research Assistant
Amy Tan, Graduate Student
Mackenzie Tarasoff, Volunteer
Ilona Ugortsev, Clinical Research Assistant
Elena Wang, Research Assistant
Lizzie Yan, Volunteer
Deborah Zibrik, Study Coordinator