Toronto, ON, June 8, 2023 – Obesity Canada and Lilly Canada are proud to highlight the important work of two researchers who have been selected as recipients of the Canadian Obesity Fellowship Program, in its inaugural year. Created in 2023, the fellowship program is intended to engage new and emerging academic researchers with an opportunity to conduct obesity-related research that supports the development of a national obesity care framework.

Dr. Soren Harnois-Leblanc and Dr. Kristine Godziuk presented their research projects at the 8th Canadian Obesity Summit, in May. Both researchers received a $30,000 CAD postdoctoral fellowship award and this was matched by their academic institutions for a total of $60,000 CAD per recipient.

“We are so thrilled to be able to support the excellent work of these Canadian researchers who are advancing the science behind a disease that impacts more than 8 million Canadians,” says Mary Forhan, Scientific Director of Obesity Canada “Dr. Harnois-Leblanc’s research will provide the necessary evidence for governments to prioritize childhood obesity management programs, while the work of Dr. Godziuk will contribute to ensuring that individuals with obesity can receive appropriate, unbiased treatment for their knee or hip osteoarthritis,” says Dr. Forhan.

“The research of the fellows is so important to help us better understand the far-reaching impact of obesity on Canadians and will contribute to a robust body of science on the international stage,” says Dr. Christine Longuet, Senior Medical Advisor, Lilly Canada Diabetes. “Lilly is excited to be able to support Canadian specific research with this new fellowship program, inspiring the next generation of researchers in an area that impacts the lives of so many Canadians.”

Dr. Soren Harnois-Leblanc, RD, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Research Centre of Sainte-Justine Hospital University Centre 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, Dr. Harnois-Leblanc will estimate the long-term cost of pediatric obesity to the Québec health care system, based on the high-risk trajectories. Dr. Harnois-Leblanc will then conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the impact of pediatric obesity management programs to standard treatment from the health care system’s perspective.

Dr. Kristine Godziuk, PhD, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta, is conducting research to improve osteoarthritis (OA) management for individuals living with obesity. Through two aligned projects, Dr. Godziuk 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. Project A will identify steps and solutions to reduce the use of maximum patient BMI thresholds by orthopedic surgeons and engage patients and surgeons in co-designing approaches to improve surgical risk assessment for individuals with obesity. Project B 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 receive appropriate, unbiased treatment for advanced knee and/or hip OA.

The Canadian Obesity Fellowship Program is made available through Obesity Canada in partnership with various stakeholders such as Lilly Canada and is intended for individuals who are currently a postdoctoral fellow affiliated with Canadian Universities who are undertaking obesity research and supervised by a full-time faculty member employed at a Canadian University. Funding must be used to match Canadian institutional funding for $30,000 per award. A minimum of 50% of the Canadian Obesity postdoctoral fellowship award must be dedicated directly to salary support directed by the university with the remaining funds to be available to the postdoctoral fellow for research related expenses. Existing agreements for the postdoctoral fellow through employment at their university would qualify as matched funding.

For more information about the program and recipients, please visit:


About Obesity Canada:

Obesity Canada-Obésité Canada, established in 2006 is Canada’s only obesity registered charity dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians living with obesity through research, education, and advocacy. Obesity Canada co-developed the Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines in 2020, which are now recognized as a global gold standard evidence-based guideline. Obesity Canada’s vision is a day when people affected by the disease of obesity are understood, respected, and living healthy lives.

About Eli Lilly Canada (Lilly Canada): 

Eli Lilly and Company is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by Colonel Eli Lilly, who was committed to creating high quality medicines that meet people’s needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to people who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and contribute to our communities through philanthropy and volunteerism.

Eli Lilly Canada was established in 1938, the result of a research collaboration with scientists at the University of Toronto which eventually produced the world’s first commercially available insulin. Our work focuses on oncology, diabetes, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration, and pain. To learn more about Lilly Canada, please visit us at

For more information please contact:

Nicole Pearce

Director, Education