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Meghan Azad PhD

Currently accepting students.

Recent Publications

Current Position

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics & Child Health and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Associate Investigator, Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study (canadianchildstudy.ca); Research Scientist, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; co-Lead, Population Health Pillar, Developmental Origins of Chronic Diseases in Children Network (DEVOTION)

Education

In Progress: MSc (Epidemiology), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
2010 – 2014: Postdoctoral Fellowship (Pediatrics), University of Alberta
2004 – 2010: PhD (Biochemistry & Medical Genetics), University of Manitoba
2000 – 2004: BSc Honours (Biochemistry), University of Winnipeg

Research Focus

My research focuses on the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). Increasingly, early-life exposures are being linked to the development of non-communicable diseases throughout the life course. Perinatal exposures including parent lifestyle and diet, environmental chemicals, nutrition and the social environment have been identified as early determinants of chronic disorders including allergies, asthma, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. DOHaD research addresses these complex and long-term associations, seeking a better understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms with the ultimate goal of preventing disease through intervention during critical periods of early development.

I am particularly interested in the role of prenatal nutrition, breastfeeding and human milk composition in DOHaD. Prenatal nutrition plays a key role in programming fetal growth and immune development, with implications for disease risk throughout the lifespan. Breastfeeding may be protective, but existing epidemiologic evidence is conflicting and the underlying biological mechanisms are poorly understood.  My research program aims to clarify the influence of breastfeeding on infant health and development, identify the bioactive components of human milk that underlie these associations, and determine how maternal characteristics including prenatal nutrition influence breastfeeding, milk composition and infant health.

DOHaD and human milk research require expertise from multiple disciplines. The Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba offers an extensive network of basic and clinical scientists with complementary expertise in molecular biology, animal models, genetics, bioinformatics, human physiology, cohort studies and administrative health data linkage. My research program is integrated within this network, and ultimately seeks to improve child health by understanding and preventing the early development of chronic disease.

Research Topics

  • Developmental origins of chronic disease (allergy, asthma, obesity)
  • Impact of breastfeeding on chronic disease development
  • Human milk composition
  • Influence of perinatal antibiotic exposure on asthma development
  • Effects of prenatal exposure to artificial sweeteners