Sarah Kimmins

Associate Professor - Reproductive Biology


Canada Research Chair Tier II, Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development

Associate Director, McGill Centre for the Study of Reproduction (CSR)

T: 514-398-7658  |  sarah.kimmins [at] (Email) | Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS1-091


BSc (Dalhousie)
MSc (Nova Scotia Agricultural College
PhD (Dalhousie)

Short Bio

Dr. Kimmins received her Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in 2003 and completed her post-doctoral training at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire in Strasbourg, France.  She was appointed to the Department of Animal Science in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in September of 2005 and is a tenured Associate Professor. She is an associate member of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine at McGill. She holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development and is the Associate Director for the McGill Center for the Study of Reproduction (2014-2017). Her independent and collaborative research programs have received peer reviewed funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Genome Quebec, Fonds québéc de la recherché sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT) and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).  She has published in international general interest and field specific journals including: Science, Nature Communications, Nature Methods, FASEB and Biology of Reproduction. She is a frequent invited speaker with over 50 presentations including international meetings such as the American Society for Andrology, Keystone Symposia, the Society for the Study of Reproduction and Gordon Research Conference series.

Awards and Recognitions

2016 The Society for the Study of Reproduction Young Investigator Award
2014 Young Andrologist Award from the American Society of Andrology

Active Affiliations

  • Elected  Council Member for the Society for the Study of Reproduction. 2016-2019
  • Council member, Canadian DoHaD Society (2015-)
  • American Society of Andrology- Chair of the Communications and Publications committee (2015-), Member ASA 2018 Program committee (2015, 2016-), Member ASA Development committee (2016-) Grant and Scholarship Review
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Grant Reviewer, 2016
  • Science Foundation of Ireland, Investigators Programme 2015
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Grant Reviewer, Operating grants, Invited Panel member, Endocrinology, Grant Reviewer, 2011, 2012, 2013.
  • NIH Epigenetics, Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group 2015/08 ZRG1 EMNR-P (50).
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), RFA-HD-14-034, U01, Male Contraceptive Development Program. 2014

Research interests

Sarah Kimmins studies how paternal health in particular diet and exposure to toxicants effects the development and health of offspring in populations in Canada and South Africa. Her lab is working with indigenous and vulnerable populations as well as Canadian men in Ontario, with a particular focus is on understanding how environmental is transmitted via heritable information in the sperm known as the epigenome.

Current Funded Research

  • CIHR Operating grant, Obesity and nutritional programming of the paternal sperm epigenome: effects on offspring, development and health.  Operating grant, March 2015.  Principal Applicant Kimmins and 5 co-applicants (Weiler, Lambrot, Xia, Dodds, Fishman, Librach, Moskovtsev). $1, 077, 100 (yr $215,420).  July 2015-2020. 

  • CIHR Team Grant, Developmental Origins of Health and Disease - Implications for Men, Women, Boys and Girls. Generational and sex-specific effects of paternal environmental exposures on offspring development and health. $1, 500,000. Principal Applicant Kimmins, 18 co-applicants. (International team with members from Africa, USA, Europe) (July 2016-2021)

  • CIHR Operating grant, Novel functional outcomes of vitamin D in infancy; can correction of low vitamin D status program for a leaner body composition phenotype? Operating grant, March 2015. H. Weiler (PA), Kimmins, Rauch Jones and Wei, $1,015,518 total award, July 2015-2021.

  • CIHR Team Grant: Boys’ and Men’s Health (Advancing Research to Improve Boys’ and Men’s Health) Initiative. "Father's lasting influence: Molecular foundations of transgenerational transmission of the paternal environment" Oct. 2014-2019 $ 1,500,000 (total).  Principal Applicant J. Bailey, co-applicants Kimmins and 8 others.  (International team with members from Africa, Rome and Denmark)

  • Medical Research Council, South Africa, Title: Disruption of the paternal epigenome due to pesticide exposure in a malaria area.  Principal Applicant Tiaan DeJager (University of Pretoria, South Africa), co-applicant Kimmins.  Jun 2015-Jun 2018, $20,358 (total, Cad).

  • Canada Research Chair Tier II, Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development, 2016-2021 (renewed), $500,000 (salary award)

In the News

Interview with Dr. Kimmins on paternal diets and reproductive outcomes. 

Article in Science: Siklenka  K, ErkekS, Godmann M, LambrotR, McGraw S. LafleurC*, CohenT,* Xia J. SudermannM, Hallett M, Trasler J,  PetersA, and Kimmins S.Disruption of histone methylation in developing sperm impairs offspring health transgenerationally. Science (Oct 8, 2015 Science). View  Abstract  |  Reprint

Article in Nature Communications: Low paternal dietary folate alters the mouse sperm epigenome and is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes. Read online or download PDF

Read related article: Does dad's diet determine a baby's genetic fate?

Read about Dr Kimmin's groundbreaking work in epigenetics (pdf) appearing in International Innovation, published by Research Media, the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at:

Research networks

  • Réseau Québécois en Reproduction
    • L’épigénétique est utilisée pour décrire l’information biochimique héréditaire au sein de l’ADN et des proteines qui entourent et régulent la condensation de l’ADN. L’information épigénétique régule l’expression génique et peut être influencée par l’environment. Nos modeles animaux nous ont permis de determiner que l’alimentation joue un role capital dans le programme epigenetique et la fertilite. Nos études des profils épigénétiques altérés dans des biopsies prélevées sur des patients atteints de cancer testiculaire ont mis en lumière la possibilité qu’une perturbation du programme épigénétique soit associée avec la survenue cancer. De facon interessante, nos travaux les plus recents montrent que les profils epigenetiques regulent egalement la pluripotentialite et la proliferation dans les cancers testiculaires et chez les cellules souches. Il est particulièrement important de mieux comprendre la contribution de l’épigénétique à la santé reproductive chez l’homme, puisque les modèles épigénétiques peuvent être perturbés par l’environnement et que les erreurs dans le code épigénétique peuvent avoir un impact à long terme sur la santé des hommes et de leur descendance.
  • Quebec Network on Reproduction


ANSC 323 Mammalian Physiology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

ANSC 324 Devel. Biology & Reproduction 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

LSCI 451 Research Project 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Selected publications

Siklenka  K*, Erkek S, Godmann M*, Lambrot R*, McGraw S. Lafleur C*, Cohen T,* Xia J. Sudermann M, Hallett M, Trasler J,  Peters A, and Kimmins S. Disruption of histone methylation in developing sperm has dire consequences for embryo development and effects are inherited transgenerationally. Science. 2015 Nov 6;350(6261). {Scored by Altmetric in the top 5% of research outputs of the same age}

Article highlighted in: Waldron W. Fatherly histones influences, Nature Reviews Genetics, 16; 685 (2015); McCarrey J. The epigenome- a family Affair, Science, November 6; 634-635 (2015)

Lambrot. R*, Lafleur C*, and Kimmins S. The histone demethylase KDMA1A is essential forthe maintenance and differentiation of spermatogonial stem cells and progenitors. FASEB J. 2015 Nov;29(11):4402-16.

Lambrot R*, Xu. C*, Saint-Phar S*, Chountalos G*, Suderman M. Hallett M., Kimmins S. Low paternal dietary folate alters the mouse sperm epigenome and is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes. December 10, 2013 Nature Communications {ranked in the 99th percentile of tracked articles of a similar age}

Lambrot R*. Kimmins S. Histone methylation is a critical regulator of abnormal gene expression in testis cancer. Int J Androl. 2011;34(2):110-23

Kimmins S, Sassone-Corsi P.  Chromatin Remodelling and Epigenetic Features of Germ Cells. Nature.  434, 583-589 (2005)

Kotoja N¹, Kimmins S1 Brancorsini S, Hentsch D, Vonesch JL, Davidson I, Parvinen M, Sassone-Corsi P. Preparation, isolation, and characterization of stage-specific spermatogenic cells for cellular and molecular analysis.  Nature Methods 1, 249 – 254 (2004). ¹co-first author