Sukhinder Cheema, Professor

Memorial University

Dr. Sukhinder Cheema is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She has cross-appointment in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University, and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Human Nutrition, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada. Dr. Cheema is internationally recognized for her research program on the importance of maternal nutrition in the context of intergenerational health. Her research group has been investigating how maternal diet, especially the type and the amount of fat, affects the regulation of offspring metabolism, thereby predisposing them to a higher risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and brain health in later years. Her research involves both in-vivo (animal models) and in-vitro cell culture models, with a broad range of techniques involving biochemical analyses, gene regulation, and omics techniques. Dr. Cheema’s interest in maternal nutrition, pregnancy outcome, and offspring health has attracted collaborations with physicians/clinicians to investigate human breast milk composition, and its impact on the health of the new born. She has been published extensively, and is invited to speak regularly at national and international conferences on the topic of maternal nutrition and offspring health. She held the CIHR New Investigator Award (2001‐2006) and has received several other awards for her research. Dr. Cheema serves on the Advisory Board for the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes. She has been a member of the Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS) since the inception of the society, and serves on several CNS committees, including her role as Director at Large.

Impact of Maternal and Paternal Nutrition on Offspring Health

Session Description: There are growing evidences that the predisposition to diseases begins in-utero and progress through adulthood. It is now well established that a mother’s nutritional status during pregnancy affects the future predisposition of the offspring to the onset of diseases in later years, a phenomenon known popularly as “Developmental origin of health and disease (DOHaD)” or “in-utero programming”. The concept behind DOHaD theory is that the origins of lifestyle-related disease is formed during fertilization, embryonic, fetal, and neonatal stages due to environment (nutrition, environmental chemicals, stress) and gene interaction. However, recent research suggests that paternal nutrition may also have an effect on the future health of the offspring. This session will focus on the importance of both maternal and paternal nutrition in regulating offspring metabolism, and propose potential mechanisms.

Learning Objectives:

- Understand the role of parental diet on the developmental origins of health and disease.

- The specific paternal diet patterns, their impact and potential mechanisms of action on the metabolic and microbial outcomes in offspring.

- Translational aspect of basic research, and examine what is known about paternal dietary influences in humans.

- Examine maternal diet qualities on fetal and offspring neural tissue development.

- Understand metabolic derangements of fetal alcohol exposure.

- Support to vulnerable populations in order to reduce the severity of the signs and symptoms of fetal alcohol exposure.