Worldwide, health systems are struggling under the escalating burden of non-communicable diseases, of which cardiometabolic complications and subsequent cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are arguably at the forefront. Of particular concern, atherosclerosis, the process leading to CVD, is occurring at an increasingly younger age, prolonging the burden of disease and resulting in lost years of productivity, a decreased quality of life, and a growing economic burden. The rapidly changing cardiometabolic disease epidemiology points to the importance of environmental, behavioral, and social-cultural determinants of health.
There are two particularly important periods in one’s life in terms of ultimate cardiometabolic disease risk: pre-adolescence, and young adulthood (18-24 yrs). There is an important interplay between genetic and environmental cues during early childhood development, when biological systems are most alterable/plastic and when chronic disease risk trajectories are hard-wired. Important environmental cues include: physical activity, nutrition, and sleep behaviour.
Subsequently, during young-adulthood the majority (70%) of US high school graduates enroll in tertiary education. This sudden, drastic change to their environment and resources often contributes to the development of poor lifestyle behaviors which track to later adulthood. In the general population, these lifestyle behaviors are known to be associated with heightened cardiometabolic disease risk. Unfortunately, young adulthood has been a neglected period of study, and the optimal lifestyle behavior targets for cardiometabolic risk are unknown.
This laboratory is interested in the interactions between lifestyle behaviours and cardiometabolic health across the lifespan, albeit with a particular focus on children and young-adults. The general interests of this laboratory are:
- The development and interpretation of methodologies for assessing cardiometabolic health.
- Interactions between lifestyle risk factors and cardio-metabolic disease aetiology.
- The translation of basic and applied science in to public health outcomes.
More specifically, this laboratory has two specific areas of interest:
- Cardiometabolic risk and lifestyle factors in young adults, including:
- Appropriate characterization/models of cardiometabolic risk.
- Using above model(s) to determine the most important lifestyle targets.
- Determining appropriate strategies for targeting lifestyle changes.
- The mechanism(s) linking acute sedentary behaviour to poor cardiometabolic and cerebral/cognitive health, including:
- Interactions between acute sedentary behaviour and other lifestyle factors
- Importance of changes to lower-extremity vascular function to systems physiology.
- Importance of peripheral vascular function to cerebral function and cognition.
- Developing methodology to enable the above interests.
The group is interested in:
- Establishing collaborations on new and existing projects
- Attracting top quality graduate students
- Visiting professors