Graduate students land funding for bone and muscle health research

Prof. Wendy Ward (left) is supervising graduate students Paula Miotto and David Dodington, who each received a grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Prof. Wendy Ward (left) is supervising graduate students Paula Miotto and David Dodington, who each received a grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Two graduate students involved in health and nutrition research have received funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).

Paula Miotto and David Dodington, master’s students in Applied Health Sciences, will each receive $17,500 from CIHR this year to support the research they are carrying out as part of Brock’s Centre for Bone and Muscle Health.

Dodington’s research is focused on the role of nutrition in the treatment for periodontal disease. Miotto is researching implications of high fat diets of mothers, before or during pregnancy, on the overall health of their children.

Prof. Wendy Ward, a Canada Research Chair in Bone and Muscle Development, supervises both students.

“For David’s research, we are collaborating with a periodontist, Dr. Peter Fritz, to study the extent to which our diet as well as supplement use can help us heal after a non-surgical deep cleaning procedure aimed at treating periodontal disease and preventing tooth loss,” Ward said.

“Paula’s research relates to nutritional programming and the concept that foods we are exposed to in the womb and during very early life may have permanent physiological effects – in some situations, may set us on a trajectory for better health as adults,” Ward explained.

“With respect to bone health, the long-term implications of this research relate to developing dietary strategies to prevent osteoporosis.”

Earlier this summer, Ward and Paul LeBlanc, Community Health Sciences associate professor, received CIHR funding of $499,876 for a four-year project that will identify long-lasting benefits of early life nutrition to bone and muscle health during aging and in the subsequent generation.

“This is good news on top of good news,” Ward said. “The CIHR funding recognizes Paula and David for their abilities as researchers to lead studies that bring a greater understanding of health and well-being.”

David Doddington.

David Doddington.

David Dodington

Master’s of Science, Applied Health Sciences
Title: “Dietary intakes and periodontal outcomes after Sanative Therapy”

Sanative therapy is the first line of treatment for periodontal disease. It involves a deep cleaning procedure that removes the agents that cause inflammation below the gum line.

There’s a lot riding on the treatment, said David Dodington, a master’s student in Applied Health Sciences.

“If successful, sanative therapy reduces the need for further invasive and costly treatment, and it allows patients to keep their natural teeth,” Dodington said. “If sanative therapy fails, however, teeth will be lost along with bone from the jaw.

“While we’ve known for many years that there are strong ties between good nutrition and oral health in addition to overall health, there is emerging evidence that specific nutrients may help us with the healing process after periodontal procedures. Findings from this study will provide a necessary first step in developing a post-operative diet that will enhance healing. ”

Patients from Dr. Peter Fritz’s clinic in southern Ontario will be recruited to participate in the study.

Prior to undergoing sanative treatment, patients will be asked to provide general information including medication and supplement usage, smoking status and history (known risk factor for periodontal disease) and any existing health conditions. They will also complete a food frequency questionnaire to assess their specific nutrient intakes and a physical activity questionnaire (physical activity has been linked to periodontal disease).

“We will measure body weight, height, and waist-hip circumference as emerging data suggests these measures are related to periodontal health,” explains Dodington. “Eight weeks after the procedure, patients will return to complete the same questionnaires and the same measurements will be taken as in the pre-therapy visit.”


Paula Miotto.

Paula Miotto

Master’s of Science, Applied Health Sciences
“Effects of maternal high fat feeding on skeletal muscle development and body composition in offspring”

Emerging health research puts a new spin on the phrase “you are what you eat.”

It’s more like “you are what your mother eats.”

Paula Miotto is among a growing number of researchers to investigate concerns about health consequences to children born to overweight mothers.

“New evidence suggests that what a mother eats before and during pregnancy can affect the growth and development of her child,” Miotto said. “This may lead to smaller muscle size and altered muscle activity, which may affect body movement.

“High fat diets are also shown to increase body fat surrounding the internal organs which is related to the development of disease. Whether expecting mothers (who have higher than normal amounts of body fat) can negatively affect muscle growth, and predict body fat levels of their baby, remains unclear.”

Obesity is major health issue in Canada. Statistics indicate that approximately 60 per cent of adults and 25 per cent of children in Canada are overweight or obese.

Miotto said the study will help to identify the origins of obesity aside from food intake. In doing that, she hopes her work may help set the stage for identifying lifestyle strategies for expecting mothers to follow, promoting healthy skeletal, muscle and fat development of their baby.

“Overall research on the causes of obesity may show promise in helping to reduce the prevalence of obesity and related health care costs for treatment of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and type II diabetes,” Miotto said. “Ultimately, we hope this research will improve the quality of life and life expectancy for many Canadians.”

Read more stories in: Research
Tagged with: , , ,