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Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Research Scientist, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, CIHR Applied Public Health Chair in Resilience and Childhood Obesity; Co-Lead of the DREAM Theme and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease in Youth Research Cluster (DEVOTION)
2006 (Postdoctoral Fellow), UT Southwestern Medical Centre, Dallas, TX
2004 (Postdoctoral Fellow), Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physiology, University of Alberta
2003 (Doctor of Philosophy), Faculty of Physical Education, University of Alberta
1999 (Master of Arts/Thesis), Faculty of Kinesiology, McGill University
1997 (Bachelor of Physical Education), University of Manitoba
My research program is focused the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes in youth, with a particular focus on physical activity. It has three distinct pillars designed to span the spectrum of mechanistic human physiology studies to community-based participatory action research.
The first pillar of my research program is focused on the determinants of type 2 diabetes and associated complications. Following a CIHR/Heart and Stroke Foundation fellowship at UT Southwestern Medical Centre, our group quickly became one of the leading centres in Canada in the area of ectopic lipid accumulation and cardio-metabolic risk in youth. Our initial studies focused on the role of fatty disease in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes. Using state of the art magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques, recent publications in Obesity and Diabetes Care revealed that the presence of lipid in the liver is a robust predictor of type 2 diabetes in youth. A more recent publication in the journal Pediatrics revealed that the absence of fatty liver disease protects overweight youth from the metabolic syndrome. In addition to these studies we have developed a method to measure fat inside the pancreas and fat within the myocardium. Currently, we are collaborating with physicians on the team to study the determinants of diabetic cardiomyopathy, nephropathy and vascular dysfunction. Studies include a cohort study of youth with type 2 diabetes (iCARE) and an intervention to help support healthy lifestyle choices (Beating Diabetes Together). This pillar of research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; the Manitoba Health Research Council the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation and the Canadian Diabetes Association.
The second pillar of our research program is focused on pinpointing the dose of physical activity needed to prevent type 2 diabetes and improve metabolic control in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Recent publications from the Healthy Hearts Cohort Study in the journals JAMA Pediatrics and the International Journal of Obesity among others revealed that vigorous intensity physical activity is superior to moderate intensity activity for preventing cardiometabolic risk factor clustering. Currently we are funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Lawson Foundation to perform randomized controlled trials of vigorous intensity exercise for improving metabolic risk in youth at risk for type 2 diabetes or living with type 1 diabetes. In addition to these agencies our works has been funded by the Cosmopolitan Foundation; the Manitoba Health Research Council and the Canadian Diabetes Association.
The final pillar of our research is focused on the role of peer mentoring for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes in youth. We have partnered with Healthy Child Manitoba to perform a clustered randomized controlled trial on the Healthy Buddies curriculum. The results of the study were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in the spring of 2014. We are also funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research to test the effectiveness of an after school program called The Aboriginal Youth Mentorship Program that relies on adolescent peer mentors to deliver a culturally tailored healthy living program for younger children living in rural First Nations communities. Pilot studies published in the journal Pediatrics suggest this model, grounded in the theory of the Circle of Courage is effective for preventing weight gain in Indigenous children at risk for type 2 diabetes. We have recently expanded this work to the treatment of children living with type 2 diabetes. These studies will provide important knowledge for the optimal approach to diabetes prevention within schools and communities.
Dr. McGavock’s research in the news