People

 

Yvonne Lamers

Yvonne Lamers, PhD; Principal Investigator

(View Dr. Lamers’ bio here)

Shujun Lin, MSc; Senior Research Technician

I joined Dr. Lamers’ research team in November 2017. As the lead technician in our nutritional biomarker laboratory, I operate the liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) and develop LC-MS/MS methods for quantitation of small molecules including vitamins, amino acids, and related metabolites. I have over 20 years of bioanalytical experience using mass spectrometry at the UBC Centre for High-Throughput Phenogenomics, as well as from my work at the UBC Biomedical Research Centre, Biovail Contract Research (Toronto) and Louisiana State University.

Nadia Moran Garcia, PhD; Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I completed my PhD in Molecular Biomedicine in the Center of Investigation and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV-IPN) in Mexico City in 2018. While my PhD studies focused on the development and characterization of diarrheagenic, infectious disease models and my academic background is in chemistry, pharmaceutics and biology, I have had a strong interest in the interdisciplinary field of nutrition since my undergraduate studies. I gained my first research experience as part of my social service and undergraduate thesis project on an animal study investigating the effects of maternal protein restriction during gestation and breastfeeding on offspring development at the National Institute of Nutrition “Salvador Zubiran” (INNSZ) in Mexico City. For my Master thesis research that I conducted at the CINVESTAV-IPN, I worked on the effect of combined vitamin A and zinc supplementation in children on the prevalence of diarrheagenic E. coli groups, that are important etiological agents of pediatric diarrhea.

I joined Dr. Lamers’ research team as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2018 to work on the transnational and multidisciplinary project DERiVE for the DEvelopment of Riboflavin biomarkers to relate dietary sources with status, gene-nutrient Interactions and Validated health Effects in adult cohorts.

E-mail: nmoranga@mail.ubc.ca

Maria Fernanda Mujica-Coopman, PhD Candidate

My interest in human nutrition research started during my undergraduate studies. I completed my MSc in Human Nutrition at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA), University of Chile, in 2015. The main focus of my master thesis was the comparison of iron and zinc supplementation on anemia in Chilean childbearing-aged women. As part of a Canada-Chile Leadership Exchange Scholarship, awarded 2014, I participated in a collaborative project between Drs Yvonne Lamers and Gilberto Kac (Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Brazil). In this project, we studied the physiological changes of vitamin B6 status in Brazilian pregnant women from a prospective cohort study conducted by Dr. Kac.

Since then, my research interest has focused on maternal B-vitamin status and early development. My PhD research aims to assess the role of the methyl nutrients folate, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, choline and betaine in relation to epigenetic programming for fetal growth and obesity related genes. I am also interested in exploring the role of maternal methyl nutrient status on anthropometric birth outcomes such as birth weight and adiposity.

Awards received: UBC Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF), Canada-Chile Leadership Exchange Scholarship, Latin American Society for Nutrition (SLAN) Leadership Award

Email: mfmujica@mail.ubc.ca

Sarah Montgomery, PhD Candidate

I completed my undergraduate training in Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University (Halifax, Nova Scotia). I am a registered dietitian and I am currently working on completing my PhD in Experimental Medicine. Under Dr Lamers’ supervision, I am working on understanding how different milks impact toddler growth and development.

Awards received: UBC Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF), Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories Graduate Studentship

Email: smontgomery@bcchr.ca

Larisse Melo, MSc Student

I graduated from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN – Natal, Brazil) with a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. During my undergraduate studies, I worked for 4 years as an undergraduate research assistant assessing vitamins A and E status in the maternal-child population. That was the first step towards my primary goal, which is building a career in academic research.

My Master’s project aims to develop and test novel food products fortified with B-vitamins to help reduce the prevalence of vitamin inadequacies in Canadians. I am also leading a small project on the breast milk vitamin B12 concentration of Indonesian mothers in a resource-poor setting, in collaboration with Dr Lisa Houghton, University of Otago. In my free time, I enjoy exploring new places and foods.

Awards received: Indrajit and Manjula Desai Prize in Human Nutrition; Trainee Expansion Program Award by the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation; UBC Graduate Support Initiative Award; UBC Nutritional Research Fellowship

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/larissemelo
Email: larissem@mail.ubc.ca

Amy Tan, MSc Student

My research interests lie in the field of nutrient requirements, optimal nutrition and identifying populations at increased risk of nutrient deficiency. My project focuses on vitamin B12 in pregnant women and their newborns. Vitamin B12 is important for the healthy growth and brain development in the fetus and newborn, as well as for maternal health. The objective of the study is to identify the effect of maternal vitamin B12 status on newborn outcomes and identify predictors of maternal vitamin B12 deficiency, specifically among South Asian women who are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and its associated pregnancy complications.

I recently graduated from UBC with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Food, Nutrition and Health. I have had a passion for nutrition research since I worked as a research assistant assessing the nutritional adequacy of patients’ meal plans at a residential treatment centre for eating disorders. My undergraduate studies have opened my eyes to the complexities of nutrition and the various areas in nutrition that have yet to be explored. I am excited to continue my studies at UBC in the Masters of Human Nutrition program and build upon my research skills and nutrition knowledge in hopes of ultimately pursuing a career in nutrition research.

Awards received: Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s Award / CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship 2017; Indrajit and Manjula DESAI Prize in Human Nutrition

Email: ata36@mail.ubc.ca

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Mohammad Saroar Zubair, MSc Student

As a master’s student in Human Nutrition at UBC, my academic interests lie in exploring micronutrient status associated with health and wellbeing of vulnerable population groups in Canada. The current focus of my research is  vitamin B12 status in pregnant women of South Asian ethnicity in GVA.

Previously, I have studied Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and worked for BRAC (NGO) in Nutrition Intervention and Home Fortification programs. I am a travel enthusiast and I am currently enjoying the diversity of cultures and food, which Vancouver has to offer. I see myself as a development professional in the future and want to build on my graduate research’s practical implications through my work with marginalized communities around the world.

Awards received: UBC Graduate Support Initiative Award

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/saroarzubair
Email: saroar.zubair@ubc.ca

Simaran Kalkat, BSc; Medical Student in Clerkship

I am currently studying medicine at UBC (MD Class of 2020) and am additionally interested in nutrition. Specifically, my interests lie in food security and access as well as optimal nutrition for general health and in states of disease. I currently have my BSc in Biochemistry from UBC, and I have a passion for food, yoga, running and traveling.

The current focus of my research is vitamin B12 status in South Asian pregnant women, as this population is particularly vulnerable to lower B12 status during pregnancy. Vitamin B12 is important for appropriate fetal growth and development, contributing to neural tube closure, and future cognitive development and cardiometabolic health of the child. Nutrition is a complex and evolving topic, and I am excited to not only contribute to this field of knowledge but also use it as a tool for my future practice.

Child Nutrition Research Team

We have a strong clinical research team working on the “Away we Grow” research study, where we aim to learn about how nutrition is related to the growth and development of toddlers. The team includes a study coordinator, clinical research assistants, Work Learn Students, and graduate students.

Deborah Zibrik, MA, RD; Study Coordinator

A while ago (1975) at UBC, I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Home Economics and a Dietetic Internship in Halifax, NS, and subsequently course work for Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition before completing the UBC Master’s Degree in Adult Education (1983). I have had the privilege to gain work experience in both the private and public sectors including positions as a dietitian or nutritionist in clinical care, community nutrition, quality assurance, food service administration, education and research. Currently, I am assisting Dr. Yvonne Lamers and the amazing research team working at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute on the Milk Nutrients Research Study, often familiarly referred to as the “Toddler Growing up Milk” or “GUM Study”.

In March 2015, I earned the Diploma designation as a fiber artist from City & Guilds UK and Harker Creative Studies in the USA, which I will reference to explore the next chapter of my life. When I am not at work or making beautiful art pieces, I enjoy to read, travel, hike, canoe, and chase after our grandchildren.

Lynda Soberanes, MSc, RD; Clinical Research Assistant

I am a Registered Dietitian with great interest in maternal-infant and child nutrition. I completed my BSc in Human Nutrition and Food Science in Mexico in 2007. I moved to Canada to complete my MSc in Human Nutrition at UBC, under the supervision of Dr. Sheila Innis. During my Master’s, I worked on a project which examined the nutrient variability in human milk, and my thesis was on choline variability in human milk.

I am a casual Clinical Research Assistant in the “Away we Grow” study; I am working full-time as a Clinical Dietitian with cancer patients.

Ilona Ugortsev, MPH; Clinical Research Assistant

I have a postgraduate clinical education, BA in Nursing and MA of Public Health (Honours in Epidemiology) from Haifa University, Israel. For the last 6 years, I have been involved in both academic and clinical research. Working as a Senior Research Assistant for the Israeli Centre for Disease Control, I researched and analyzed health data in the field of population health. After completing the Clinical Research Associate & ICH-Good Clinical Practice Program, I coordinated studies for the Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit at Rambam Medical Centre, Israel.

Since 2017, it has been a pleasure working with a great team for the “Away we Grow” research study as a Clinical Research Assistant.

Awards: Dean’s Award for Excellence, Master of Public Health Program in Haifa University, Israel.

Camille St-Cyr, BSc; MSc Student and Clinical Research Assistant

I completed my undergraduate training at McGill University with a degree in Anatomy and Cell Biology. I have since been involved in research focused on infant and toddler development and I am particularly interested in how nutrition plays a part in neuro-cognitive development of young children. As a Master’s student in Experimental Medicine and under the supervision of Dr. Lamers, I am exploring the relationship between different vitamin B12 biomarkers and evaluating the use of a potential new diagnostic tool to measure vitamin B12 status in at-risk pediatric population.

Mikaela Stewart, BSc; Clinical Research Assistant

My interest in nutrition research began during my BSc in Life Sciences and Chemistry at UBC. I have been working on a toddler nutrition development project at BC Children’s Hospital since September 2016, where I have learned so much about the importance of nutrition early on in life. I am excited to pursue my next degree in Dietetics at UBC, and I look forward to learning more about pediatric and population health from a nutrition perspective. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, yoga, and cooking new foods!

Email: mikaela.stewart@bcchr.ca

Undergraduate Students

  • Clementine Ng, Work Learn Student; Applied Nutrition Research Assistant
  • Ricky Tsang, Directed Studies Student; Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alumni

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

Chia-Ling (Jennifer) Ho, MSc

My research focused on vitamin B-6 adequacy in healthy women. Vitamin B-6 is an essential nutrient important for blood cell formation, energy metabolism, and brain function. In my MSc projects, I determined vitamin B-6 status in young and older adult women in Metro Vancouver with the overall goal to contribute new knowledge on vitamin B-6 in Canada by characterizing women at-risk for vitamin B-6 deficiency. My research outcomes provide new information for public health measures and future research trials since there are few data about vitamin B-6 status in Canadians.

My background is in Nutrition. I finished my undergraduate education in Taiwan at Taipei Medical University. During my undergraduate studies, I worked in a research laboratory and contributed to investigations on chemoprevention of rice bran in colon carcinogenesis in rats.

Awards received: UBC Graduate Support Initiative Award; Indrajit and Manjula DESAI Prize in Human Nutrition

Amy McMahon, PhD; Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I completed my PhD in Human Nutrition at the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) at Ulster University, Northern Ireland, in 2017. My PhD focused mainly on investigating the underlying mechanisms behind the blood pressure lowering effects of riboflavin, in individuals with a genetic predisposition to elevated blood pressure. This is where my interest in B-vitamins, public health and nutritional biochemistry began. During my PhD, I gained extensive experience in nutritional epigenetics and the design and conduct of human intervention studies.

My research encompassed various projects in nutritional biochemistry with a special focus on understanding the metabolic consequences of inadequate B-vitamin intake in young adult women.

Theresa Schroder

Theresa Schroder, PhD 

The main focus of my research was on the assessment, prevalence and effects of maternal and infant vitamin B12 deficiency. We developed a simple and precise method to determine methylmalonic acid, a functional indicator of vitamin B12 status, in dried blood spots. This has allowed for minimally invasive assessment of functional vitamin B12 status. We are interested in applying this method as a second tier-test to identify newborns at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. We have further pursued studies to determine vitamin B12 status of mothers and their infants in resource-poor settings using dried blood spots, in collaboration with Dr Lisa Houghton at the University of Otago. As vitamin B12 is crucial for a healthy fetal and infant development, the overall goal of my research is to contribute to the public health goal of nutritional adequacy of pregnant women and their babies by early identification of potential vitamin B12 deficiencies.

My background is in analytical chemistry and nutritional biochemistry. I have transitioned to Human Nutrition from an undergraduate degree (Vordiplom) in Chemistry and a Master’s equivalent degree (Diplom) in Food Chemistry from Germany. My previous experience lies within nutrient analysis of foods and bioavailability studies. My motivation is to combine my analytical knowledge with my interest in human biochemistry to contribute to health-relevant identification of potential nutrient deficiencies in Canada and worldwide. In my free time, I like to explore the beauty of BC’s nature by going hiking, biking, or skiing and taking my van camping.

Awards received: UBC Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF), Simon Foundation Doctoral Scholarship, LFS Graduate Student Service Award, Killam Graduate Teaching Award 2015-2016

Teo Quay, MSc

My research addressed questions around vitamin B12 status in reproductive-aged women of South Asian and European ethnicity. Vitamin B12 adequacy is critical during early pregnancy in the periconceptional period. With an estimated 40% prevalence of unplanned pregnancies, it is essential for young adult women to maintain vitamin B12 adequacy throughout reproductive years.

With my research outcomes, we determined the prevalence and predictors of vitamin B12 status in South Asian and European young adult women in Metro Vancouver, investigated  biomarker discrepancies in the classification of vitamin B12 deficiency, and applied novel biomarkers in the assessment of vitamin B12 status.

Through this research experience and related community engagement, the challenges in recruitment of ethnic minorities became apparent leading me to conduct and publish a scoping review on the barriers and facilitators to recruitment of South Asians to health research.

Contact: LinkedIn

International Scholars

  • Dr. Joanna Suliburska, Dekaban Scholar (Poznan University, Poland)
  • Dr. Ewa Sicinska, Dekaban Scholar (Warsaw University, Poland)
  • Dr. Marta Jeruszka-Bielak, Dekaban Scholar (Warsaw University, Poland)
  • Vanessa Ruppert, DAAD PROMOS Scholar (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitaet Bonn, Germany)
  • Monja Sandler, DAAD RISE Scholar (University of Hohenheim, Germany)
  • Diana Toribio, Mitacs Globalink Fellow (Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico)
  • Pauline Kempf, Summer Exchange Scholar (LaSalle Beauvais, France)
  • Heike Asseburg, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Scholar (University of Giessen, Germany)

Undergraduate Students

  • Katie Tsoupakis, Work Learn Student
  • Gloria Ho, Work Learn Student
  • Matthew Saunders, Work Learn Student
  • Mikaela Stewart, Work Learn Student
  • Pablo Elizondo, Science Co-op Student

  • Aaron SihoeUndergraduate Research Assistant
  • Ori Nevares, Undergraduate Research Assistant
  • Christine Warren, Undergraduate Research Assistant
  • Alex Wong, Undergraduate Research Student
  • Belva Wong, Undergraduate Research Student
  • Stephanie Chen, Undergraduate Research Student
  • Prineet Ghuman, Undergraduate Research Student
  • Lynsey Haynes, Directed Studies Student
  • Hanna Wunsch, Directed Studies Student
  • Carly Isman, Directed Studies Student