Canadian Obesity Fellowship Award Winners

Dr. Soren Harnois-Leblanc and Dr. Kristine Godziuk will be presenting their research projects at the 8th Canadian Obesity Summit on May 17 at 12:30pm.

Soren Harnois-Leblanc, RD, PhD

Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Research Center of Sainte-Justine Hospital University Center

During Dr. Soren Harnois-Leblanc’s postdoctoral fellowship under the supervision of Dr Dimitra Panagiotoglou (McGill University) and Mélanie Henderson (CHU Sainte-Justine), Soren will model adiposity trajectories from childhood to early adulthood in a Quebec population-based cohort and perform simulations to see how these trajectories evolve 10, 25, and 40 years in the future. Using administrative health data, she will estimate the long-term cost of pediatric obesity to the Québec health care based on the high-risk trajectories. She will then conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the impact of a pediatric obesity management programs to standard treatment from the health care system’s perspective. The work during Soren’s fellowship is crucial and perfectly aligned with Obesity Canada mission, as it will provide governmental agencies and policymakers with the needed evidence to prioritize childhood obesity early treatment programs.

Kristine Godziuk, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences

University of Alberta, Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University and Boston University

Dr. Kristine Godziuk is a postdoctoral fellow and rehabilitation scientist at the University of Alberta. Her research aims to improve osteoarthritis (OA) management for individuals living with obesity. In two aligned projects, she will critically examine the relevance of body mass index (BMI) for access to surgical OA treatment (i.e. joint replacement/total joint arthroplasty), and explore body composition as a tool to provide more targeted and appropriate non-surgical OA management strategies. In project A, Kristine will identify steps and solutions to reduce the use of maximum BMI thresholds by orthopedic surgeons, and engage patients and surgeons in co-designing approaches to improve surgical risk assessment. In project B, she will explore strategies to prevent muscle loss and sarcopenic obesity development in individuals with advanced knee OA. Both projects will contribute to ensuring that individuals with obesity can receive appropriate, unbiased treatment for their knee or hip OA. Timely and effective OA management is critical to prevent the development or worsening of other serious health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, and management of diabetes and hypertension. This research aligns with Obesity Canada’s mission to improve the lives of individuals living with obesity through the development and delivery of more appropriate, integrated OA treatment approaches. This includes non-surgical OA interventions targeted to patient needs, and equitable access to life-enhancing joint replacement surgery when indicated.

A special thank you to Eli Lilly for contributing funding to the Canadian Obesity Fellowship Award program.

Obesity Canada Distinguished Award winner (Sunday opening plenary lecture)

Dr. Mark Tremblay

“Dr. Tremblay is proud of the early epidemiology and health measurement work he was involved in that helped elevate the issue of childhood obesity in Canada. This foundational work helped lead to the establishment of, and rewarding engagements in, various groups including HALO, TROPIC, CANPWRTeam ABC3ISCOLESUNRISE and other partnerships related to childhood obesity leadership, research and advocacy. Over the years my research moved from a weight-centric to healthy active living-centric model which I am comfortable with and proud of.”

Obesity Canada supported this award.

Founders Award (Tuesday plenary lecture)

Dr. Arya M. Sharma

“Dr. Sharma founded Obesity Canada (formerly Canadian Obesity Network) through a Networks of Centres of Excellence New Initiative Grant in 2006. The initial mandate of the network was to reduce the humanistic and economic impact of obesity on Canadians through collaborations that create valuable new knowledge in obesity prevention and treatment. He brought together researchers from social, health, and engineering sciences as well as representatives from industry, NGOs, and governments. Grew into a sustainable national network of over 30,000 researchers, health professionals, policy makers, professional organizations and industry representatives with a shared interest in reducing the burden of obesity on Canadians.

Generated a substantial dividend on the original NCE investment of $2.0 million by raising an additional $7.7 million in cash and measurable in-kind contributions from its partners and stakeholders. Arya has significantly enhanced Canadian capacity and expertise in obesity, and for the first time created a deep sense of community and shared vision among Canada’s obesity researchers, health professionals and decision makers.”

Obesity Canada supported this award.

TOPS New Investigator Award winner (Wednesday plenary lecture)

Dr. Annalijn Conklin

“Dr. Conklin is most proud of their research contribution to improving our empirical understanding of the wider social determinants of obesity, particularly from a gender perspective. Dr. Conklin is also honoured to be working with Squamish Nation to promote Indigenous women’s heart health by preventing obesity and other CVD risk factors through culturally safe and appropriate strategies such as foraging walks.”

Special thanks to Take Pounds Off Sensibly (TOPS) for contributing funding to support this award.