Associate ProfessorT: 514-398-7845 | kris.koski [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Macdonald-Stewart Bldg MS2-036
BSc (University of Washington – Seattle)
MSc (University of Washington – Seattle)
PhD (University of California - Davis)
PDF in Maternal and Child Nutrition (University of California – Davis)
Dr Koski was recruited to McGill in 1986 following establishment of the new School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and was responsible for revitalizing the Nutrition Major and for developing its MSc and PhD programs. In 2004, she was appointed Director of the School, a post she held until 2014. During her tenure she championed the development of the Mary Catherine Freeman and Southam Food Teaching Laboratories to meet modern industrial standards and the construction of the adjacent Helen Neilson Culinary Demonstration Room and the Sensory Evaluation Laboratory.
Throughout her research career at McGill, Dr Koski has continually advanced our understanding of the role of nutrition in promoting maternal, infant and child health. Highlights of research findings include demonstrating an association of protein and micronutrient deficiencies with parasitic loads and with fetal, neonatal and child growth. Dr Koski has shown that changes in the nutrient composition of glucose, proteins, amino or fatty acids and micronutrient supplementation modify fetal growth and infant birth weight. Most recently, she has investigating the composition of the human milk microbiome and the maternal and environmental factors that shift its microbial composition.
Awards and Recognition
2013 NIH, Expert Panelist, Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) – INSPIRE Working Group
2010-12 IOM/Vanderbilt University Evidence-based Practice Centre for Promotion of Healthy Pregnancy Weight Guidelines
2009 Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Weight Gan During Pregnancy: Re-examining the Guidelines
2010 Frost and Sullivan Technology Innovation Award
2009 Genesis Award, Centre Québecois de Valorisation des Biotechnologies
2006 Top 20 Scientific News Stories in Canada- University National Press
2005 Founding Scientists Molecular Biometrics LLC
1999-2004 NSERC Member of the Advisory Board for the Tri-council Policy Statement on Ethical Considerations Concerning Research Involving Humans.
1999 Huddleson Award (Honorable Mention) American Dietetic Association
1990 McGill Teaching Award
Dr Koski is a member of Editorial Boards for Advances in Nutrition and for Frontiers in Public Health. Current McGill affiliations include Faculty of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine. Formerly she was a member of the FQRNT Centre for Host-Parasite Interactions (CHPI) and the Advisory Board for establishment of McGill’s Institute for Global Food Security.
Dr Koski’s research focuses on advancing our understanding maternal and child nutrition in Canada and internationally. Currently, she is investigating 1) the early biochemical determinants of fetal growth associated with infant birth weight in Canada and 2) the impact of the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy and lactation on maternal and infant health in Lebanon. Her long-standing international research program in Panama continues to explore the consequences of multiple maternal infections and inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, and supplementation programs on pregnancy outcomes in indigenous communities. More recently, Dr Koski has been investigating the human milk microbiome of Mam-Mayan indigenous mothers in Guatemala in order to characterize those features of the human milk microbiome associated with optimal growth during lactation.
Nutritional and Biochemical Determinants of Fetal Growth and Birth Weight. Dr Koski and colleagues are exploring the early determinants of pregnancy outcomes using biobanked amniotic fluid. To date they have established that prematurity and birth of a large-for- gestational age, macrosomic infants are associated with an altered biochemical profile in utero. In the case of GDM, there is early evidence that elevated amniotic fluid glucose occurs by the 2nd trimester, which suggests that earlier diagnosis of GDM may be required if GDM complications are to be limited. There is also emerging evidence that the timing of vitamin-mineral supplementation modifies fetal growth and infant birthweight. Ongoing studies continue to investigate the role of specific amniotic fluid amino acids and fatty acids as biomarkers for several pregnancy outcomes.
Interrelationship Among Nutrition, Infections and Inflammation on Growth and Development. Dr Koski and collaborators from the Institute of Parasitology are exploring how nutrient deficiencies and parasitic infections impact perinatal growth and development. Recent findings in fetal mice show that even though nematode infections are associated with stunting, fetal brain gene expression was unaffected. In contrast, long-term potentiation and pathways for the development of synaptic plasticity, cognition and memory were up-regulated in neonatal pups of infected dams, suggesting that Th2 inflammation may be beneficial because it suppresses Th1 inflammation. In related human studies (The MINDI Cohort), the research team has also shown that Th2 related inflammation, oral, skin, vaginal and intestinal infections and multiple nutrient deficiencies, including iron, vitamins A and D, folate and protein deficiency, modify CRP, maternal blood pressure, symphysis-fundal height (SFH) and the sensitivity and specificity of iron status indicators during pregnancy and lactation. Dr Koski and team are intrigued by observations that iron supplementation alone may not be sufficient to improve growth and that multiple micronutrients also play an understudied and important role.
Human Milk Microbiome Human milk contains a diverse community of bacteria. Recently, we identified, in the Mam-Mayan indigenous community in Guatemala, several maternal factors that modify the human milk microbiome at the genera and/or species level. These factors include maternal age, parity, BMI and stage of lactation. Presently, Dr Koski’s lab is investigating four underexplored factors. These include 1) the possibility that breastfeeding practices can shift the milk microbiome and change the diversity and relative abundance of milk microbiota, 2) that the presence of subclinical mastitis (SCM), an asymptomatic inflammatory condition of the breast, is correlated with lower microbial diversity and a shift from commensal to ‘opportunistic bacteria, 3) that this microbial dysbiosis is related to deficiencies of milk minerals and trace elements and that both the milk micronutrient and microbial composition impacts growth and brain development and 4) finally, the possibility that maternal intestinal parasites are independently associated with milk microbial composition and infant growth.
To view a list of Dr. Koski's publications, click here.