KPU researcher receives Canada Research Chair in Nutrition Informatics

Tue, Jun 15, 2021

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) instructor and researcher Dr. Karen Davison is receiving $600,000 in funding over five years to further her nutrition and health research.

The Canada Research Chair in Nutrition Informatics, a Tier 2 grant, will support research into understanding the role of nutrition-related factors, such as eating behaviours and nutrient-gene interactions, and how they influence different physical, mental, and cognitive health outcomes in diverse populations, particularly those who are from equity-seeking groups. 

“I am deeply grateful to the Government of Canada and the Canada Research Chair Program for this incredible opportunity,” says Davison. “I am also very thankful for the support from KPU and colleagues that have helped to make this work possible.”

“There is so much work that can be done to better understand the role of nutrition in health and how we can design effective interventions to help prevent and manage communicable and non-communicable diseases. I am also interested in assessing the effectiveness of nutrition interventions, including ones that employ digital technologies, in changing eating behaviours and improving health outcomes.”

Currently, she is working on population data to help with decision-making about health, nutrition, and food-related policies and practices. This includes the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging and the United Kingdom BioBank.

“We examine the impact of indicators of nutrition status, such as levels of nutrients in the blood, and how they relate with other relevant factors, such as inflammatory biomarkers, in the development and management of different diseases,” says Davison. “Currently, our work focuses on COVID-19 and includes examining the role of nutrition status in relation to contracting the illness, severity of symptoms, and recovery from the infection. Another project has focused on the role of mental health promotion to better integrate health and social care.”

Davison is also working on a pilot project launched in May 2021. Her team has partnered with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit to assess the impact of an online course on how to support mental health through nutrition targeted to mental health professionals. The project will be ongoing over the next year.

She says the grant will help her continue to hire student researchers and make space and equipment available to colleagues, staff, and students to conduct applied research projects.

“Dr. Davison is a hard-working researcher who has engaged in collaborative and impactful scholarship in nutrition informatics over the years at KPU. We are pleased with this recognition. CRC funding will enable time, resources, and further student participation to expand this work” says Dr. Deepak Gupta, associate vice-president, Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies at KPU.