Canada Research Chair in Nutritional Immunology
Member, Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases Laboratory
Division of Human Nutrition
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science
Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences
4-002G Li Ka Shing (LKS) Centre for Health Research Innovation
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E1
1+(780) 248-1827 (office)
Dr. Caroline Richard is a RD, PhD. She completed her BSc and internship in Dietetic and Nutrition in 2007 and then her MSc and PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism at Laval University in 2009 and 2013, respectively. She then completed her postdoctoral studies in nutritional immunology at the University of Alberta in 2016. She was appointed in 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Nutritional Immunology in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Alberta.
Areas of Focus Include:
- Understanding the relationship between the cardiovascular system and the immune system
- Nutritional interventions to mitigate immune dysfunction related to obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Phosphatidylcholine and dairy fat counteracting the immune dysfunction associated with obesity
- I was the first to demonstrate that obese individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have an impaired T cell response after challenge compared with metabolically healthy individuals with obesity.
- We demonstrated that not only the amount but the forms of choline in the maternal diet during lactation influences the immune system of the dams and suckled offspring.
- We published a systematic review and book chapter on the effect of egg consumption on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in individuals with or at risk of T2D
- We demonstrated that a dietary supply of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) early in life is essential for the immune system development and the establishment of oral tolerance.
- We were the first to document the mechanisms underlying the low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering properties of the MedDiet in high-risk men with metabolic syndrome.
The immune system regulates inflammation, and plays a role in the pathogenesis of chronic diseases. Obesity and hyperglycemia increase inflammation and the risk of infection. However, little is known about the immune dysfunction related to obesity. Dr. Richard’s research program will support the establishment of clinical evidence-based nutritional recommendations for the management of obesity-related immune dysfunction. Her research aims first at understanding the independent contributions of diet and hyperglycemia in modulating immune function in obesity and secondly at developing dietary approaches (dietary pattern, food or supplement) that precisely mitigate obesity-related immune dysfunction. Identifying specific immune functions (markers to target), independent of diet, that are impaired in different health conditions (e.g., obesity, prediabetes or T2DM) is crucial to determine targeted and personalized approaches to precisely improve immune function in each health condition. The second part of her program will provide evidence to support food-based recommendations (ex. Phosphatidylcholine) that are directed at precisely improving obesity-related immune dysfunction. This is important since weight loss, although known to improve inflammation and the immune system, has resulted in little long-term success. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify other effective strategies for the management of obesity co-morbidities.