Dr. Clara Cho is an Assistant Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Precision Nutrition in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. She was previously an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences at Utah State University. She obtained her BSc in Nutritional Sciences and Physiology at the University of Toronto, PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Her research program investigates dietary influences on risk of chronic diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, with a focus on the role of methyl nutrients in energy balance regulation, metabolism and individual variations in disease susceptibility. Her laboratory uses animal models and human studies to elucidate mechanisms of disease from integrated assessments of genetic, epigenetic, physiologic, metabolic and gut microbiome endpoints. Her work has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Research Fund, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, Office of Research at Utah State University and U.S. commodity boards.
The gut microbiota is a vast system of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract that has co-evolved with the human host. Until recently, the gut microbiota was thought to merely allow harvesting of energy from food. It is now clear that the gut microbiota can be shaped by diet and may be central to development and progression of chronic diseases including metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. This presentation will focus on the role of methyl nutrients (folic acid and choline) as determinants of disease risk at the interface of gut microbial communities and microbial-derived metabolites, with interpersonal metabolic variations that may arise due to differences in the gut microbiota composition. The objectives of this presentation are: 1) To describe the impact of gestational intakes of methyl nutrients on offspring gut microbiota and metabolic disease risk; 2) To examine diet and gut microbial factors contributing to production of trimethylamine-N-oxide, a newly recognized marker for cardiovascular disease; and 3) To highlight future opportunities and challenges with integrating gut microbiota measures in development of potential intervention strategies.