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My research interests relate to underlying mechanisms of nutrition and chronic 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, cancer, and cognitive impairment.
The overarching theme of my research is nutrient adequacy. My research projects aim to investigate metabolic and functional effects of nutritional inadequacies and micronutrient interactions in various population groups. The studies will help elaborate potential underlying mechanisms responsible for linkages between B-vitamin intake and chronic diseases and in the evaluation of optimal vitamin intake to maintain biochemical functions. I am specifically interested in investigating the metabolic effects of folic acid and less than optimal vitamin B-12 intake.
My enthusiasm for research draws from my interest in the biochemistry and physiology of nutrition-related diseases and in targeted and population-based strategies of chronic disease prevention and optimal health promotion. My research focuses on micronutrients and specifically B-vitamins and their kinetics and functions in human metabolism. B-vitamins are required for normal cell growth and neurological function 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, cancer, and cognitive impairment. The overarching theme of my research is micronutrient 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 nutritional inadequacies and micronutrient interactions in various population groups. The studies will help elaborate potential underlying mechanisms responsible for linkages between B-vitamin intake and chronic disease risk and in the evaluation of optimal vitamin intake to maintain biochemical functions. I am interested in supervising graduate students with strong interests in biochemistry, nutrition, and biomarker analysis. Ideal candidates have strong communication skills for interaction with study participants and have experience or high interest in potential projects with a wet lab component. To read more about our current projects, team members, or highlights, please see: www.vitamins.landfood.ubc.ca
CURRENT OPENING: 1 postdoc position, CIHR-funded project to determine vitamin adequacy in reproductive-aged women. The candidate has a background in nutrition, biochemistry, life science, or related fields, preferably with experience in the conduct of clinical trials, participant recruitment and correspondence, and has strong communication skills and is highly organized. The candidate will join a dynamic team of graduate students and clinical research assistants, as well as lab technicians, to undertake this interdisciplinary project. If interested, please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Birthweight and gestational age at birth have been inversely associated with chronicdisease risk in later life. The vitamins folate and vitamin B12 (B12) have interdependentmetabolic functions that are essential for fetal growth. Maternal folate and B12 concentrationsduring pregnancy have been positively associated with birthweight and gestational age at birth;however, the findings from the literature are inconsistent. The objective of this research was toevaluate the association of maternal serum folate and B12 biomarker concentrations, combinedand individually, with birthweight and gestational age at birth.This retrospective cohort study included biobanked non-fasting serum samples and datafrom 674 apparently healthy pregnant women of South Asian and European ethnicity residing inLower Mainland, British Columbia (BC). Maternal serum samples, collected in the first andsecond trimesters of pregnancy, were retrieved from the BC Prenatal Genetic Screening Programand analysed for folate and B12 biomarker concentrations. Birth outcome data were retrievedfrom the BC Newborn Screening Program. The association of folate and B12 biomarkerconcentrations with birth outcomes was assessed using multiple linear regression models withadjustment for confounding factors, including infant sex, ethnicity and maternal age.The prevalence of low birthweight, preterm and small-for-gestational-age were 1.9%,8.9% and 0.88%, respectively. The combined maternal folate and B12 status, in either trimester,was not associated with birthweight or gestational age at birth. Maternal B12 biomarkerconcentrations individually, in either trimester, were not or only weakly associated with birthoutcomes. Second-trimester maternal folate concentrations of the second, third and fourthquartile group (Q2=55.5-69.3, Q3=69.3-87.8, Q4≥87.8 nmol/L, respectively) were associatedwith an approximate 0.6-week (i.e., 4-day) increase in gestational age at birth, compared to theiiireference group (Q1≤55.5 nmol/L) (95% CI: 0.28, 1.02, p=0.02; 95% CI: 0.23, 0.95, p=0.03,95% CI: 0.16, 0.89, p=0.005, respectively).In conclusion, early pregnancy folate and B12 status were neither combined norindividually associated with birthweight in this sample. Due to the vitamins’ importance in fetalgrowth and development, the association between maternal folate and B12 status and birthoutcomes warrants further investigation in a population with a higher prevalence of lowbirthweight and preterm birth.
Vitamin B6 (B6) plays an essential role in the metabolism of amino acids, synthesis of neurotransmitters, and regulation of energy homeostasis. B6 deficiency, plasma pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (PLP) concentration
Low maternal vitamin B12 (B12) status has been associated with an increased risk for adverse offspring health outcomes, including neural tube defects and insulin resistance. High rates of B12 deficiency have been reported in South Asians, who comprise one of Canada’s largest minority groups, and Canadian women of childbearing age. Comprehensive B12 status assessment should include multiple biomarkers to reduce the risk of misclassification. However, there is no consensus on the appropriate cut-off values to define chronic and marginal B12 deficiency. Our goal was to assess the rate and determinants of B12 deficiency in healthy South Asian and European women in Metro Vancouver using multiple biomarkers. We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive study in a convenience sample (n=207) of South Asian and European women (19-35y). Anthropometric measurements and questionnaire data on demographics, lifestyle and diet were collected. Vitamin B12 status was assessed using serum vitamin B12 (SB12), serum holotranscobalamin (holoTC) and plasma methylmalonic acid (MMA) as biomarkers. The association of lifestyle, social, dietary, and genetic variables with B12 status was examined using multiple regression models. Using conventional SB12 concentration cut-offs, 14% of participants with biochemical data (n=204) were classified with chronic deficiency (SB12
- Approaches to improving micronutrient status assessment at the population level (2019)
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, , 1--7
- Associations between the Level of Trace Elements and Minerals and Folate in Maternal Serum and Amniotic Fluid and Congenital Abnormalities (2019)
- Formate concentrations in maternal plasma during pregnancy and in cord blood in a cohort of pregnant Canadian women: relations to genetic polymorphisms and plasma metabolites (2019)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
- Formate concentrations in maternal plasma during pregnancy and in cord blood in a cohort of pregnant Canadian women: relations to genetic polymorphisms and plasma metabolites. (2019)
The American journal of clinical nutrition,
- Maternal and Cord Blood Folate Concentrations Are Inversely Associated with Fetal DNA Hydroxymethylation, but Not DNA Methylation, in a Cohort of Pregnant Canadian Women (2019)
The Journal of Nutrition,
- Maternal Plasma Pyridoxal 5'-Phosphate Concentration Is Inversely Associated with Plasma Cystathionine Concentration across All Trimesters in Healthy Pregnant Women. (2019)
The Journal of nutrition,
- Maternal Plasma Pyridoxal 5′-Phosphate Concentration Is Inversely Associated with Plasma Cystathionine Concentration across All Trimesters in Healthy Pregnant Women (2019)
The Journal of Nutrition,
- Micronutrient intakes of lactating mothers and their association with breast milk concentrations and micronutrient adequacy of exclusively breastfed Indonesian infants (2019)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
- Micronutrient intakes of lactating mothers and their association with breast milk concentrations and micronutrient adequacy of exclusively breastfed Indonesian infants. (2019)
The American journal of clinical nutrition,
- Reference intervals for serum total vitamin B12 and holotranscobalamin concentrations and their change points with methylmalonic acid concentration to assess vitamin B12 status during early and mid-pregnancy (2019)
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM),
- Reference intervals for serum total vitamin B12 and holotranscobalamin concentrations and their change points with methylmalonic acid concentration to assess vitamin B12 status during early and mid-pregnancy. (2019)
Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine,
- Serum Betaine and Dimethylglycine Are Higher in South Asian Compared with European Pregnant Women in Canada, with Betaine and Total Homocysteine Inversely Associated in Early and Midpregnancy, Independent of Ethnicity (2019)
The Journal of Nutrition,
- Variability of Water-Soluble Forms of Choline Concentrations in Human Milk during Storage, after Pasteurization, and among Women (2019)
- Evaluation of folate concentration in amniotic fluid and maternal and umbilical cord blood during labor (2018)
Archives of Medical Science,
- Periconceptional intake of folic acid among low-risk women in Canada: summary of a workshop aiming to align prenatal folic acid supplement composition with current expert guidelines (2018)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 108 (6), 1357--1368
- Barriers and facilitators to recruitment of South Asians to health research: a scoping review (2017)
BMJ Open, 7 (5), e014889
- Correlations between Maternal, Breast Milk, and Infant Vitamin B12 Concentrations among Mother–Infant Dyads in Vancouver, Canada and Prey Veng, Cambodia: An Exploratory Analysis (2017)
Nutrients, 9 (3), 270
- Pregnant women of South Asian ethnicity in Canada have substantially lower vitamin B12 status compared with pregnant women of European ethnicity (2017)
British Journal of Nutrition, 118 (06), 454--462
- South Asian Ethnicity Is Related to the Highest Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Pregnant Canadian Women (2017)
Nutrients, 9 (4), 317
- Folic acid fortified milk increases blood folate to concentrations associated with a very low risk of neural tube defects in Singaporean women of childbearing age. (2016)
Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition,
- Low Serum Vitamin B-12 Concentrations Are Prevalent in a Cohort of Pregnant Canadian Women (2016)
The Journal of Nutrition, 146 (5), 1035--1042
- Prevalence and Predictors of Low Vitamin B6 Status in Healthy Young Adult Women in Metro Vancouver (2016)
Nutrients, 8 (9), 538
- Reference interval of methylmalonic acid concentrations in dried blood spots of healthy, term newborns to facilitate neonatal screening of vitamin B12 deficiency (2016)
Clinical Biochemistry, 49 (13-14), 973--978
- Vitamin B-6 Status in Unsupplemented Pregnant Women Is Associated Positively with Serum Docosahexaenoic Acid and Inversely with the n–6-to-n–3 Fatty Acid Ratio (2016)
The Journal of Nutrition, 147 (2), 170--178
- High prevalence of suboptimal vitamin B12 status in young adult women of South Asian and European ethnicity (2015)
Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 40 (12), 1279--1286
- Genetic Hemoglobin Disorders Rather Than Iron Deficiency Are a Major Predictor of Hemoglobin Concentration in Women of Reproductive Age in Rural Prey Veng, Cambodia (2014)
The Journal of Nutrition, 145 (1), 134--142
- Methylmalonic Acid Quantified in Dried Blood Spots Provides a Precise, Valid, and Stable Measure of Functional Vitamin B-12 Status in Healthy Women (2014)
The Journal of Nutrition, 144 (10), 1658--1663
- Metabolite Profile Analysis Reveals Functional Effects of 28-Day Vitamin B-6 Restriction on One-Carbon Metabolism and Tryptophan Catabolic Pathways in Healthy Men and Women (2013)
The Journal of Nutrition, 143 (11), 1719--1727
- Metabolomic Analysis Reveals Extended Metabolic Consequences of Marginal Vitamin B-6 Deficiency in Healthy Human Subjects (2013)
PLoS ONE, 8 (6), e63544
- Red blood cell folate levels in pregnant women with a history of mood disorders: A case series (2013)
Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 97 (6), 416--420
- Marginal Vitamin B-6 Deficiency Decreases Plasma (n-3) and (n-6) PUFA Concentrations in Healthy Men and Women (2012)
The Journal of Nutrition, 142 (10), 1791--1797
- Folate Recommendations for Pregnancy, Lactation, and Infancy (2011)
Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 59 (1), 32--37
- Global hypothesis testing for high-dimensional repeated measures outcomes (2011)
Statistics in Medicine, 31 (8), 724--742
- Indicators and methods for folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 status assessment in humans (2011)
Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 14 (5), 445--454
- Moderate Vitamin B-6 Restriction Does Not Alter Postprandial Methionine Cycle Rates of Remethylation, Transmethylation, and Total Transsulfuration but Increases the Fractional Synthesis Rate of Cystathionine in Healthy Young Men and Women (2011)
The Journal of Nutrition, 141 (5), 835--842
- A Mathematical Model Gives Insights into the Effects of Vitamin B-6 Deficiency on 1-Carbon and Glutathione Metabolism (2009)
The Journal of Nutrition, 139 (4), 784--791
- Kinetics of Folate and One-Carbon Metabolism (2009)
Folate in Health and Disease, Second Edition, , 491--516
- Moderate Dietary Vitamin B-6 Restriction Raises Plasma Glycine and Cystathionine Concentrations While Minimally Affecting the Rates of Glycine Turnover and Glycine Cleavage in Healthy Men and Women (2009)
The Journal of Nutrition, 139 (3), 452--460
- Production of 1-Carbon Units from Glycine Is Extensive in Healthy Men and Women (2009)
The Journal of Nutrition, 139 (4), 666--671
- Supplementation with a multivitamin containing 800 µg of folic acid shortens the time to reach the preventive red blood cell folate concentration in healthy women (2009)
International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 79 (2), 61--70
- Vitamin B-6 restriction tends to reduce the red blood cell glutathione synthesis rate without affecting red blood cell or plasma glutathione concentrations in healthy men and women (2009)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90 (2), 336--343
- Reply to EP Quinlivan (2008)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87 (5), 1538--1539
- Calculation of red blood cell folate steady state conditions and elimination kinetics after daily supplementation with various folate forms and doses in women of childbearing age (2007)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86 (5), 1414--1419
- Glycine Turnover and Decarboxylation Rate Quantified in Healthy Men and Women Using Primed, Constant Infusions of [1,2-13C2]Glycine and [2H3]Leucine (2007)
The Journal of Nutrition, 137 (12), 2647--2652
- Red blood cell folate concentrations increase more after supplementation with [6 S]-5-methyltetrahydrofolate than with folic acid in women of childbearing age (2006)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 84 (1), 156--161
- Supplementation with [6S]-5-methyltetrahydrofolate or folic acid equally reduces plasma total homocysteine concentrations in healthy women (2004)
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79 (3), 473--478