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Dr. Todd Duhamel at Wednesday's study launch. Duhamel welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with inter-professional colleagues from across the university.

Improving health outcomes of Manitobans

March 23, 2016 — 

A study aimed at improving the health of middle-aged Manitobans kicks-off its recruitment phase this week.

The Manitoba Personalized Lifestyle Research (TMPLR) program brings together a collection of researchers and health care professionals at the University of Manitoba to examine how diet, physical activity, sleep, genetics and gut microbiome interact to shape the health of Manitobans aged 30-46.

The study will recruit 1,200 total participants over four years, and in the first phase is seeking a cross-section of people across the province. Participants will be asked to come to the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at the University of Manitoba or to TMPLR’s mobile research unit on two consecutive days to undergo measurements and give biological samples. Samples will undergo analysis for numerous established and emerging health biomarkers and gut microbiota analysis.

Measurements will include a scan to measure body composition and bone density, and physical activity testing to estimate maximal aerobic capacity. Participants will be asked to wear activity monitors for a week to assess day-to-day physical activity and sleep.

This is one of the first studies of its kind to look at middle-aged people from a health analysis standpoint; important because this is when people typically tend to start developing disease. It’s also the age range where disease is most preventable, says Dr. Todd Duhamel.

Duhamel is the associate dean of research and graduate studies in Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management and the physical activity lead for the study. He’s focused on the relationships between physical activity, gut microbiota, and genetics and how they relate to overall health.

Our gut harbours microbial cells that influence human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function.

According to Duhamel, physical activity has an impact on how your gut microbiome and genetics interact with the rest of your body.

However, more research is needed to forge a blueprint on how to take advantage of this relationship.

“We know that physical activity, your genes, and your gut influence each other, but we don’t have a lot of detail of what that looks like,” says Duhamel, who is also a principal investigator of physical activity and chronic disease prevention at St-Boniface Hospital Research Centre.

“We’re in the early stages of understanding of how these systems work together collaboratively.”

Collaboration is the overall theme and strength of the four-year, $1 million Research Manitoba-funded study, which aims to test 1,200 Manitobans of all backgrounds.

Researchers and experts in nutrition, cardiac health, and sleep will also be involved.

“By working as a team, we can really influence each other to look at questions for a lot of different and new perspectives. In the end, we can start to ask better questions,” Duhamel adds.

The knowledge gained through the TMPLR program will allow for the identification, development and testing of strategies to improve health in a personalized manner. Specifically, TMPLR program will result in the creation of a unique research platform with a database of extensively phenotyped participants and identification of genetic and microbiota related traits that associate with lifestyle factors.

Through the improvement of nutritional practices alone, the healthcare system could save an estimated $360 to $400 million annually, according to the TMPLR website. Improvements in physical activity and sleep would result in even more health system cost savings.

Those interested in particpating can visit

Learn more about the TMPLR team at the following public events:

TMPLR Media Launch — March 23, 11 a.m. Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals

How Diet and Physical Activity & Sleep Shape Chronic Disease in Manitoba — March 23, 7 p.m. McNally Robinson

A Team, a Bus & a Grant – March 24, 2 p.m. Winnipeg Free Press Café




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