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CFI Funds StFX Micronutrient Assessment Laboratory

Research in nutritional science at StFX took another step forward with the news that StFX human nutrition professor Dr. Jen Jamieson has received a $78,423 grant from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to further strengthen her Micronutrient Assessment Laboratory.

The award is part of the Leaders’ Opportunity Fund.

Dr. Jamieson will use the funding for infrastructure to support her research program investigating iron status assessment with a focus on novel methods of biochemical and dietary assessment in special populations with varying iron requirements.

The major pieces of equipment she will purchase will include a clinical hematological autoanalyzer and a microplate spectrophotometer.

“The ability to study the relationship between iron intake and iron status in health and disease locally would allow StFX to be competitive in the growing field of nutritional science and foster interdisciplinary research in the region. It would also lead to important scientific contributions, including those that will be directly applicable to clinical practice, health and nutrition policy,” Dr. Jamieson says.

“Today, over half of annual deaths in Canada are attributed to complex, nutrition-related chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While energy imbalance has been clearly linked to the obesity epidemic and subsequent metabolic consequences, the role of micronutrient deficiencies in chronic disease development is only beginning to be appreciated,” Dr. Jamieson says.

“For iron, both inadequate and excessive intakes are a concern in Canada. High iron intake has been linked with cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and diabetes, although evidence is inconclusive. Hemochromatosis, the most common genetic disorder in Canada, can lead to iron overload and subsequent liver, joints and other tissue damage. Conversely, iron deficiency continues to be a concern in young women and Aboriginal populations in Canada, affecting immune function, growth, development, and maternal and infant health outcomes.”

Iron deficiency is also a common outcome of inflammatory diseases, impacting disease management, prognosis and growth in children. Furthermore, she says, an iron-deficient phenotype has recently been reported in obese populations. This condition is distinct from the anemia of inflammation and the clinical significance is unclear. “However, given the central role of iron in energy metabolism, there are implications for physical activity, exercise adherence, work productivity and mental outlook.”