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Obesity research teams receive $4.5M in funding


Ottawa, ON – Three project teams are receiving a total of $4.5 million in funding to support their research into obesity. The research teams will focus on weight management programs for children, the therapeutic potential of fecal transplants in bariatric care, and guidance to help doctors determine the best bariatric surgical approach for each patient.

The funding comes from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). An additional $1.8 million will be provided by CIHR’s partners including the Canadian Obesity Network; Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions; Alberta Health Services Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition Strategic Clinical Network; Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; and Fonds de recherche du Québec–Santé. 

The teams and projects receiving funding are:

  • Drs. Geoff Ball, Catherine Birken, Jill Hamilton, Nicholas Holt, Louise Masse and Katherine Morrison, who are based at the University of Alberta, will study the prevalence of severe obesity (SO) in children, examine the health risks that come with the problem, and study the factors that lead a doctor to suggest bariatric care. In order to understand the best treatments for children who suffer from SO, the team will determine whether a health coach or community support can help them keep a weight management program. This team will receive $1.48 million over five years.
  • Dr. André Tchernof, from Université Laval, will study the effects of bariatric surgery, where the size of a morbidly obese (MO) patient’s stomach is reduced or a bypass is created over their lower intestine to minimize the need for food and nutrients. His international team, which involves researchers from the United States and Europe, will analyze which one of these two surgeries is the best option for MO patients who want to sustain weight loss and have a normal metabolism afterwards. Dr. Tchernof will receive $1.49 million over five years.
  • Drs. Johane Allard and Herbert Gaisano, who are based at University of Toronto, will determine whether the transplantation of stool from healthy individuals into morbidly obese patients will help improve weight loss. The team feels that the new stool could hold bacteria that motivates a loss of hunger and benefits organs such as liver. Should this prove to be effective, the transplant could introduce a new therapy that would reduce the need for bariatric surgery. Dr. Allard and Gaisano’s team will receive $1.5 million over five years.