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MSc and PhD Positions:
Metabolism, Obesity, and Nutrition Lab (Dr. Sylvia Santosa)

Project Descriptions

1. The effect of exercise on MRS-measured intramyocellular and extramyocellular lipids in early and late onset obesity

Those with childhood-onset obesity have lower resting rates of fat oxidation vs. those with adulthood onset obesity. The mechanisms that underlie these differences are unclear. The goal of the project is to determine whether exercise induced changes in the fat in muscle (ie. Intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) and extramyocellular lipid (EMCL)) are affected by age of obesity onset. Differences in intramyocellular (IMCL) and extramyocellular (EMCL) lipid metabolism could contribute to the decreased fat oxidation we previously observed in childhood-onset obesity. We will compare participants with childhood and adulthood onset obesity. We will measure use of muscle fat before and after exercise via magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). We will also measure energy expenditure and metabolism (indirect calorimetry), body composition (DXA), and lab outcomes.

2. How does post-surgical protein intake/status affect changes in weight, body composition, energy metabolism, and muscle function in bariatric surgery patients?

Weight loss (bariatric) surgery is becoming increasingly popular in Canada. The restrictive and malabsorptive nature of the surgery makes bariatric surgery patients particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. However, current post-surgical nutrition guidelines for bariatric surgery are based on little to no scientific evidence. The goal of the project is to determine how changes in nutritional intake after surgery affect muscle function and mass, energy use, surgical outcomes, and indicators of overall health. In doing so, we hope to be able to provide better evidence-based nutrition guidelines for these patients. Participants will be recruited from the bariatric surgery clinic at the MUHC. We will measure nutritional intake (food records), muscle function (exercise testing), muscle mass and body composition (DXA), energy metabolism and fuel partitioning (indirect calorimetry), and blood health outcomes.

3. Low Protein-High Carbohydrate Diets: Does Protein Source Affect Lipid Metabolism and Dietary Safety?

Popular low carbohydrate – high protein diets were recently associated with adverse long-term cardiovascular health outcomes depending on the source of protein supplementation (animal versus plant-based). The underlying causes of this effect remain unknown in both animal and human nutrition. The objective of this study is to compare how a low carbohydrate-high protein weight loss diet, supplemented with either animal- or plant-based protein affects blood and fat tissue lipid profiles, immune cell profiles, and blood markers of inflammation. Healthy participants with obesity will be recruited and randomized into a plant-based and animal-based protein 12 week weight loss groups. Before and after the weight loss interventions, we will measure body composition (DXA and CT scan), energy expenditure and fuel metabolism (indirect calorimetry), and collect fat tissue and blood samples. Fat tissue samples will be analysed for immune cell profile (flow cytometry), and cellular characteristics. Blood samples will be analysed for inflammatory markers.

Summary of Positions

The candidates chosen to work with these projects will work with study PI, Dr. Sylvia Santosa (https://monlab.ca/sylvia-santosa/) and the MON lab team. The candidate will be responsible for coordinating and delivering the project from recruitment and scheduling of participants, sample and data collection, acquisition and analyses, to writing manuscripts. The candidates selected will have the opportunity to work with several collaborators and acquire multidisciplinary skills in wet and dry lab analyses.

Required Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree in a related discipline (e.g., Nutrition, Physiology, Kinesiology/Exercise Science, Biology, Medicine)
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Willingness to learn
  • Ability to work autonomously and take a lead role on projects under supervision of principal investigators
  • Wet lab experience is preferred but not required

Start date, Duration, Stipend, and Location

Projects are to start on or before September 2021.

Funding is based on project and candidate’s background, experience, and study level. Conference funding and out-of-province and international tuition waivers are potentially available.

The successful candidate will be registered at Concordia University in the Department on Health, Kinesiology, and Applied Physiology (www.concordia.ca). The majority of study visits and data analyses will take place at the PERFORM Centre of Concordia University’s Loyola Campus (https://www.concordia.ca/research/perform.html). Please note that the language of instruction at Concordia is English.

To Apply

Applicants should send:

  • A CV including any relevant research experience
  • (Official or unofficial) transcript
  • Email contact information for two referees

Queries and applications should be sent to Dr. Sylvia Santosa: s.santosa@concordia.ca. Please include the subject line “Graduate Studies Application”.

Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.