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Dietary strategies

Combatting diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver and cardiovascular diseases


By Kelly Foss and Jeff Green

Part of an ongoing series of Gazette stories celebrating researchers who received support as part of the federal government’s major investment in science and research on Aug. 29.

A recent federal investment will allow Memorial to acquire high-tech research equipment and create a unique facility to study chronic diseases affecting Canadians.

Wearing glasses and a charcoal-coloured shirt with a pattern, Dr. Shyamchand Mayengbam, a brown man in his late 30s, smiles. In the background is a lab setting.
Dr. Shyamchand Mayengbam
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The support comes from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which provides foundational support to Canadian researchers.

Dr. Shyamchand Mayengbam, assistant professor and project leader, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, along with Dr. Kapil Tahlan, professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, and Dr. Guangju Zhai, professor, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, received $459,701 for the project, Multidisciplinary Systems Metabolomics Research Laboratory.

The researchers will acquire infrastructure for a unique multidisciplinary research laboratory dedicated to studying the impact of dietary nutrients on metabolic regulation, identifying novel microbial metabolites and discovering biomarkers associated with diet-related metabolic diseases, behavioural responses and marine biomass residues.

N.L. highest in obesity in Canada

Metabolomics is the study of small-molecule compounds of biological origin.

“My research centres on understanding the interactions between dietary nutrients and the gut microbiome, as well as unravelling the gut-related metabolic pathways associated with obesity and related diseases, which have strong connections to comorbidities such as diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Mayengbam.

He says that, given Newfoundland and Labrador’s highest obesity prevalence in Canada, the research program aims to develop innovative dietary strategies to address the global obesity pandemic and enhance the quality of life for affected Canadians.

The team is diverse and each member brings their own research strengths to the project.

Dr. Tahlan studies microbial metabolites for their potential use in therapeutics, benefitting the pharmaceutical industry, agriculture and health care, while Dr. Zhai focuses on biomarker discovery for osteoarthritis.

Together with their collaborators, they plan to use the new infrastructure for investigations in these and other areas that have the potential for broad societal, industrial and scientific impacts.

In addition, as part of the Aug. 29 announcement, Dr. Mayengbam received a separate Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Research Tools and Instruments grant valued at $148,529 in support of his ongoing research.

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