Research Objectives

Clinical nutrition is a discipline that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and management of nutritional and metabolic problems related to acute and chronic disease and conditions caused by a lack or excess of energy and nutrients. The Clinical Nutrition Research Unit aims to tackle these issues through research into three key research axes:

Clinical    |    Behavioural    |    Precision Nutrition

The Clinical Axis


In Canada, almost half of adults 20+ have at least 1 of 10 common chronic conditions related to nutrition.


In 2018, CAD$15.8 billion of the economic burden of chronic disease attributed to not complying with Canadian food recommendations.

Comprehensive Assessments

To better understand the relationship between lifestyle factors and health outcomes, researchers need to conduct detailed health and nutritional assessments. The new site will be outfitted with sophisticated equipment that allow for comprehensive physiological measurements of body composition and provide continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Assessment Area

A fully equipped assessment area allowing comprehensive physiological measurements of body composition and sampling of biospecimens.

Exercise Room

An on-site exercise room allowing researchers to evaluate the body's response to exercise challenges under different conditions, and is equipped to precisely measure metabolic parameters.

Food Pharmacy

This first in Canada food pharmacy will be a space to promote the consumption of therapeutic foods among patients who require dietary startegies to manage a chronic condition.

Meeting and Observation Rooms

For evaluating eating and self-management behaviours that will be combined with the data obtained from the physical assessments. Researchers will host focus group discussions and interviews to develop a self-management platform for diabetes.

The Behavioural Axis

Eating behaviour is an important determinant of health. Our food choices can be susceptible to multiple factors, both internal (e.g. hunger) and external (e.g. food advertisements).

an illustration of two people eating while watching televisionDietary patterns have changed in recent decades due to a greater availability of inexpensive foods and the widespread presence of food marketing.

Exposure to food marketing, such as commercials and social media content, has been related to increased consumption of calories, and therefore to increased risk of obesity.

Current Research

The CNRU can collect data outside of the lab using wearable pieces of equipment that can be used for conducting studies in a natural setting.

The CNRU is currently conducting a study in which we evaluate changes in appetite, neuroactivity, and visual attention during/after exposure to food commercials of highly-palatable foods,  considering genetics and hunger state.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

Observing eating behaviours is an important part of helping people improve their nutritional habits.

Sensometric Lab

The sensometric lab aims to evaluate food-related sensation, perception and cognition in carefully controlled settings.

Dining Observation Area

Experimenters can observe participants' eating behaviours through a mirrored window overlooking a realistic living/dining room.

Modern Equipment

Computerized tasks, questionnaires, brain imaging devices, and biometric sensors such as eye trackers and heart rate monitors are used to study reactivity to food cues.


A computer displays an image of the brain with activity points highlightedEquipment highlight:

Our portable functional near-infrared spectroscopy device collects brain activity measurements in a non-invasive and silent way while participants move freely.

The Precision Nutrition Axis

This branch of nutrition aims to design unique and dynamic nutrition strategies based on personal data, such as genetics. Other factors such as dietary patterns, health status, microbiome, and metabolism can also be considered.

Research themes

  • Studying how genes and diet together are related to health outcomes
  • Investigating the role of local food environments in the relationships between genes and health outcomes

illustration of a dna helixResearch on nutrition and genetics helps us understand

How a person responds to a diet based on unique aspects of their DNA

The biological mechanisms behind a person's metabolic response to food and nutrients


How does it work?

Chronic disease involves many genes (they are polygenic)

Genes are influenced by what we eat (dietary exposures)

We can study interactions between genes and diet to better prevent, manage, and treat chronic diseases

What will the science reveal?

Precision nutrition interventions that integrate genetic information and/or other personal data

Improved prevention and management of diet-related chronic diseases

Advance the science for developing dietary recommendations



plate icon with an arrow to a health iconEpidemiology Lab

The lab is equipped with high performance computers to help analyze "big data" from large cohort studies involving hundreds of thousands of participants.

We evaluate relationships between data on genetics, diet, eating behaviour, social factors, the retail food environment and markers of health.

CNRU Researchers

Daiva Nielsen

Assistant Professor
CNRU Director

daiva.nielsen [at] (Email )
Research findings

1: Aguilera Vasquez N, Nielsen DE. The Endocannabinoid System and Eating
Behaviours: a Review of the Current State of the Evidence
. Curr Nutr Rep. 2022
Aug 18. doi: 10.1007/s13668-022-00436-x. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35980538.

2: Horne JR, Nielsen DE, Madill J, Robitaille J, Vohl MC, Mutch DM. Guiding
Global Best Practice in Personalized Nutrition Based on Genetics: The
Development of a Nutrigenomics Care
Map. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2022
Feb;122(2):259-269. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2021.02.008. Epub 2021 Mar 17. PMID:

3: Meng T, Kubow S, Nielsen DE. Common variants in the CD36 gene are associated
with dietary fat intake, high-fat food consumption and serum triglycerides in a
cohort of Quebec adults
. Int J Obes (Lond). 2021 Jun;45(6):1193-1202. doi:
10.1038/s41366-021-00766-w. Epub 2021 Feb 11. PMID: 33574567.

4: Han HY, Paquet C, Dubé L, Nielsen DE. Diet Quality and Food Prices Modify
Associations between Genetic Susceptibility to Obesity and Adiposity Outcomes.
2020 Oct 30;12(11):3349. doi: 10.3390/nu12113349. PMID: 33143186;
PMCID: PMC7692602.

5: Nielsen DE. Response to 2020 Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Obesity: Further discussion of community- and population-level strategies.
CMAJ. 2020 Sep 21;192(38):E1101. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.76581. PMID: 32958576; PMCID:

Anne-Sophie Brazeau

Anne-Sophie Brazeau

Assistant Professor; Program Director, Dietetic Education & Practice

anne-sophie.brazeau [at] (Email )
Research findings

1: Talbo MK, Rabasa-Lhoret R, Yale JF, Peters TM, Brazeau AS. Are nocturnal hypoglycemia prevention strategies influenced by diabetes technology usage? A BETTER registry analysis. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2022 Sep;191:110080. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2022.110080. Epub 2022 Sep 12. PMID: 36099973.</p>

2: Talbo MK, Katz A, Dostie M, Legault L, Brazeau AS. Associations Between
Socioeconomic Status and Patient Experience With Type 1 Diabetes Management and Complications: Cross-sectional Analysis of a Cohort From Québec, Canada
Can J Diabetes. 2022 Aug;46(6):569-577. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2022.02.008. Epub 2022 Mar 3. PMID: 35864032.

3: Itzkovitz A, Maggio V, Roy-Fleming A, Legault L, Brazeau AS. Nutrition and food literacy among young Canadian adults living with type 1 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2022 Jul 23:e14921. doi: 10.1111/dme.14921. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35870142.

4: Prévost MS, Rabasa-Lhoret R, Talbo MK, Yardley JE, Curry EG, Brazeau AS.
Gender Differences in Strategies to Prevent Physical Activity-Related Hypoglycemia in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes: A BETTER Study. Diabetes Care. 2022 Mar 1;45(3):e51-e53. doi: 10.2337/dc21-1899. PMID: 35045175.

5: Talbo MK, Peters T, Brazeau AS, Rabasa-Lhoret R, Yale JF. Can continuous glucose monitoring technology reduce fear of hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes? Pol Arch Intern Med. 2022 Feb 28;132(2):16209. doi: 10.20452/pamw.16209. Epub 2022 Feb 28. PMID: 35226443.

6: Wu Z, Rabasa-Lhoret R, Messier V, Shohoudi A, Dasgupta K, Pelletier J, Brazeau AS. Self-reported haemoglobin A1c highly agrees with laboratory-measured haemoglobin A1c among adults living with type 1 diabetes: A BETTER registry study. Diabetes Metab. 2022 Jan;48(1):101277. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2021.101277. Epub 2021 Sep 9. PMID: 34509633.

Stéphanie ChevalierStéphanie Chevalier

Associate Professor
Graduate Program Director

stephanie.chevalier [at] (Email)
Research findings

1: Tessier AJ, Wing SS, Rahme E, Morais JA, Chevalier S. Association of Low
Muscle Mass With Cognitive Function During a 3-Year Follow-up Among Adults Aged
65 to 86 Years in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging
. JAMA Netw Open. 2022
Jul 1;5(7):e2219926. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.19926. PMID: 35796211;
PMCID: PMC9250053.

2: Minerbi A, Brereton NJB, Anjarkouchian A, Moyen A, Gonzalez E, Fitzcharles
MA, Shir Y, Chevalier S. Dietary Intake Is Unlikely to Explain Symptom Severity
and Syndrome-Specific Microbiome Alterations in a Cohort of Women with
. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Mar 10;19(6):3254. doi:
10.3390/ijerph19063254. PMID: 35328942; PMCID: PMC8950034.

3: Tessier AJ, Presse N, Rahme E, Ferland G, Bherer L, Chevalier S. Milk,
Yogurt, and Cheese Intake Is Positively Associated With Cognitive Executive
Functions in Older Adults of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging
. J
Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2021 Nov 15;76(12):2223-2231. doi:
10.1093/gerona/glab165. PMID: 34115853.

4: Lawson C, Ferreira V, Carli F, Chevalier S. Effects of multimodal
prehabilitation on muscle size, myosteatosis, and dietary intake of surgical
patients with lung cancer - a randomized feasibility study
. Appl Physiol Nutr
Metab. 2021 Nov;46(11):1407-1416. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2021-0249. Epub 2021 Jul 15.
PMID: 34265218.

Chelsea GillisChelsia Gillis

Assistant Professor; Nutrition Lead, Peri Operative Program, MUHC

chelsia.gillis [at] (Email)
Research findings

1: Corriveau J, Alavifard D, Gillis C. Demystifying Malnutrition to Improve
Nutrition Screening and Assessment in Oncology
. Semin Oncol Nurs. 2022 Aug
19:151336. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2022.151336. Epub ahead of print. PMID:

2: Gillis C, Coca-Martinez M, Santa Mina D. Tailoring prehabilitation to address
the multifactorial nature of functional capacity for surgery
. J Hum Nutr Diet.
2022 Jun 18. doi: 10.1111/jhn.13050. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35716131.

3: Hasil L, Fenton TR, Ljungqvist O, Gillis C. From clinical guidelines to
practice: The nutrition elements for enhancing recovery after colorectal
. Nutr Clin Pract. 2022 Apr;37(2):300-315. doi: 10.1002/ncp.10751. Epub
2021 Aug 2. PMID: 34339542.

4: Gillis C, Ljungqvist O, Carli F. Prehabilitation, enhanced recovery after
surgery, or both? A narrative review
. Br J Anaesth. 2022 Mar;128(3):434-448.
doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2021.12.007. Epub 2022 Jan 7. Erratum in: Br J Anaesth. 2022
Jun;128(6):1061. PMID: 35012741.

5: Gillis C, Gill M, Gramlich L, Culos-Reed SN, Nelson G, Ljungqvist O, Carli F,
Fenton T. Patients' perspectives of prehabilitation as an extension of Enhanced
Recovery After Surgery protocols
. Can J Surg. 2021 Nov 2;64(6):E578-E587. doi:
10.1503/cjs.014420. Erratum in: Can J Surg. 2021 Nov 18;64(6):E620. PMID:
34728523; PMCID: PMC8565881.

6: Gillis C, Hasil L, Kasvis P, Bibby N, Davies SJ, Prado CM, West MA, Shaw C.
Nutrition Care Process Model Approach to Surgical Prehabilitation in Oncology.
Front Nutr. 2021 Jun 24;8:644706. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.644706. PMID: 34249985;
PMCID: PMC8264148.

Stan KubowStan Kubow

Associate Professor

stan.kubow [at] (Email )
Research findings

1: Lorenz T, Iskandar MM, Baeghbali V, Ngadi MO, Kubow S. 3D Food Printing
Applications Related to Dysphagia: A Narrative Review. Foods
. 2022 Jun
17;11(12):1789. doi: 10.3390/foods11121789. PMID: 35741992; PMCID: PMC9222244.

2: Barkhidarian B, Roldos L, Iskandar MM, Saedisomeolia A, Kubow S. Probiotic
Supplementation and Micronutrient Status in Healthy Subjects: A Systematic
Review of Clinical Trials
. Nutrients. 2021 Aug 28;13(9):3001. doi:
10.3390/nu13093001. PMID: 34578878; PMCID: PMC8472411.

Support the CNRU. Together we can forge a healthier tomorrow.

McGill University, the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the School of Human Nutrition are deeply committed to the success of this important initiative.

With your help, nutrition-based solutions to some of our most complex public health issues are within reach.

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