Principal-Investigator & Project Coordinator: Yvonne Lamers, Professor of Food, Nutrition and Health, University of British Columbia 

Yvonne Lamers holds the Canada Research Chair in Human Nutrition and Vitamin Metabolism and is an Associate Professor in the Food Nutrition and Health Program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at The University of British Columbia (UBC) and an Investigator at the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Vancouver, Canada. 

Yvonne leads the UBC Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory using state-of-the-art technology to quantify direct and functional indicators of micronutrient deficiencies. Her research focuses on B-vitamin metabolism with the overarching goal to identify biological mechanisms linking nutrition, health, and disease and to evaluate optimal vitamin status to maintain biochemical functions. She has established a translational nutritional research program with the goal to contributing new knowledge that can be applied in clinical practice and public health for the benefit of individuals and vulnerable population groups.

Co-Investigator: Michael S. Kobor, Professor of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia 

Michael Kobor is a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and The Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging—a UBC President’s Excellence Chair. He has received many distinctions, including a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics, the Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development, and an appointment as Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Child and Brain Development Program. A champion for translational research, he previously served as the Director for the “Healthy Starts” Theme at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. He also leads the UBC Social Exposome Research Cluster, an interdisciplinary effort spanning 8 Faculties that investigates the health effects of social and environmental factors and influences policies and interventions to reduce health disparities. He is internationally recognized as a world-leader in the field of epigenetics and leads a program of research focused on illuminating the mechanisms by which environmental exposures and life experiences can “get under the skin” to persistently affect health and behaviour across the lifespan.   

Twitter: @Koborlab 


Laboratory Technician: Shujun Lin, University of British Columbia 

As the lead technician at the UBC Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory, Shujun operates the liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometer (LC-MS/MS) and develops LC-MS/MS methods for quantitation of small molecules including vitamins, amino acids, and related metabolites. She has over 20 years of bioanalytical experience using mass spectrometry at the UBC Centre for High-Throughput Phenogenomics, as well as from her work at the UBC Biomedical Research Centre, Biovail Contract Research (Toronto) and Louisiana State University. 

PhD Student: Amy Tan, The University of British Columbia 

Amy is currently a PhD student in the Human Nutrition Program at the University of British Columbia. She recently completed her Masters in Human Nutrition in 2019 at the University of British Columbia. Her Masters project focused on maternal vitamin B12 status in early pregnancy and its association with birth outcomes. She will be continuing her studies in B-vitamins as a PhD student with the EpiBrain project where she will focus on the association between maternal B-vitamin status and infant epigenetics and neurodevelopment. 

Principal-Investigator: Nicole Letourneau, Professor of Nursing and Medicine, University of Calgary 

Nicole Letourneau is a Registered Nurse, PhD and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Science and American Academy of Nursing. She is a Professor in the Faculty of Nursing and Cumming School of Medicine (in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Community Health Sciences) at the University of Calgary, She also holds the Research Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health and is Director of Research and Education for Solutions to Violence (RESOLVE) Alberta. She has attained more than $65 million in research funding, including $20+ million as Principal Investigator (PI) of the Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Studies Program ( examining parenting and child development in the context of maternal depression, family violence and other stressors. One of her key projects is the APrON Study, a pregnancy cohort of 2200 families funded for follow-up to 12 years of child age, mainly focusing on predictors of and intersections between parental mental health and child behavioural development. She is the author of three books including Scientific Parenting: What Science Reveals About Parental Influence published in 2013, What Kind of Parent Am I? published in 2018 and Parenting and Child Development: Issues and Answers, published in 2020. She has also published more than 210 peer reviewed papers, is a regular contributor of opinion-editorials appearing in online and print media such as the HuffPost and Toronto Star and is the world’s most followed nurse on Twitter. She has attained many honours including Canada’s Outstanding New CIHR Investigator in 2006, Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2007, Awards for Research Excellence from two Provincial Nurses Colleges (New Brunswick in 2011 and Alberta in 2015), and the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing in 2017. In 2020, she received the prestigious Canadian Nurses Association Jeanne Mance award for career achievement. She is also President of the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta.

Co-Investigator: Rhonda Bell, Professor of Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta 

Rhonda Bell is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta. She leads a team of trainees (graduate and undergraduate students and post docs) and research staff in studies that examine the role of nutrition in promoting health and preventing and treating diabetes and its complications. Her research program integrates applied and basic research. Much of her work is conducted within the paradigm of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, examining the role of nutritional intake during sensitive periods of development on health, specifically diabetes risk, in mothers and their offspring. 

In addition to being an investigator in the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study, Rhonda is part of the leadership for 2 intervention cohort studies that are part of the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiatives (HeLTI) funded by CIHR.  She also led a recently completed group of studies called the ENRICH Program (funded by Alberta Innovates Health Solutions) aimed at improving maternal health during pregnancy and postpartum using innovative strategies that meet the needs of diverse groups of women across Alberta. 

Co-Investigator: Deborah Dewey, Professor of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary 

Deborah Dewey is a Professor of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary and the co-lead on the Alberta Pregnancy and Nutrition (APrON) study. From 2006 to 2018, she was the Director of the Behavioural Research Unit, Alberta Children’s Hospital. Her innovative and interdisciplinary research program examines maternal and child health issues in Canada and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research interests focus on the effects of the prenatal environment on children’s brains and behaviour, the impact of co-morbid neurodevelopmental disorders on children’s brain structure and function, the effects of genetics and epigenetics on neurodevelopment, and behaviour and mental health outcomes in children with various health conditions. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, and is sought after locally, nationally, and internationally as a collaborator on various research projects. She co-edited the book Developmental Motor Disorders: A Neuropsychological Perspective, the pre-eminent text in the field and is an elected Fellow of the prestigious Association for Psychological Science and Canadian Psychological Association. Her research on the APrON study cohort focuses on investigating the effects of prenatal and early childhood exposures, including endocrine disrupting chemicals, heavy metals, maternal nutrition, and maternal mental health, on children’s brains, cognitive development, behaviour, and mental health.  She is also examining the influence of prenatal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and maternal nutrients on the developing epigenetic profile and the regulation of key genes involved in neurodevelopment 

Co-Investigator: Catherine Field, Professor of Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta 

Catherine Field is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science and an Adjunct in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, at the University of Alberta. She is also a CRC Tier 1 Chair in Human Nutrition and Metabolism and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Her research centers on the effect of nutrition on the immune system. Current areas of her research include the role of polyunsaturated fats on the development of the infant’s immune system, the use of specific fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and identifying the association between nutritional status and maternal mental health and the neuro-physical development of infants. As Co-Principal Investigator of the APrON study, Catherine leads the nutrition component of the study, including the biobank. 

Co-Investigator: Gerald Giesbrecht, Professor of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary 

Gerald Giesbrecht is a clinical and developmental psychologist at the rank of Associate Professor in the Departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. He is also a faculty affiliate in the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research at the University of California, Irvine. He is a registered Psychologist in the province of Alberta and has extensive experience working with children and families. 

His research program focuses on the psychobiology of stress, and especially on the effects of stress during pregnancy on child development. He is currently studying the effects of risk and resilience factors, such as prenatal nutrition, social support, the gut microbiome, and temperament on children’s mental health and neurodevelopmental outcomes. The overall objectives of his research program are: to identify the mechanisms by which in utero exposure to maternal stress becomes biologically embedded in children’s development, to identify risk and resilience factors that modify the effects of early life stress exposure on children’s development, and to develop effective intervention and prevention strategies to prevent or reduce the effects of early life stress exposure on children’s development. His research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Sick Kids Foundation, and the Weston Foundation.

Co-investigator: Brenda Leung, Professor of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge 

Brenda Leung is an Associate Professor in Public Health, and the Emmy Droog Chair in Complementary and Alternative Healthcare at the University of Lethbridge. She is also a Visiting Research Fellow with the International Complementary Medicine Research Leadership and Capacity Building Program, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.  

Her training is in epidemiology and naturopathic medicine. Her research includes the application of various CAHC therapies in the treatment of chronic disease, as well as approaches for integrative healthcare. For example, one of her current projects is investigating the use of acupuncture in childhood anxiety. Another area of focus is the role of nutrition, in particular multi-micronutrients in maternal (mental) health and child neurocognitive development. For example, her research has examined the role of prenatal micronutrient supplementation on maternal mood and child development, the importance of nutrition during pregnancy and for child brain development. 

Northern Ireland

Principal-Investigator: Helene McNulty, Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, Ulster University  

Helene McNulty is Professor of Human Nutrition & Dietetics in the School of Biomedical Sciences and is Director of the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), a centre of excellence for nutrition research at Ulster University. She is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy (since 2008) and Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (since 2017). The purpose of Helene’s research is to provide greater understanding of nutrition-related health issues, to achieve impacts to facilitate food and health policy aimed at disease prevention, and to drive innovation activities. She has particular expertise in folate and related B vitamins through the lifecycle and has published extensively in this field, building impacts in both early life and ageing research. Apart from managing a large nutrition research team, Helene is actively involved in teaching in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics at undergraduate and master levels, and in supervising research students to PhD level. In collaboration with international partners at UBC Canada and URV Spain, Helene’s role as co-investigator in the EpiBrain project is to lead the team at Ulster and build upon the research focus, expertise and health impacts of B-vitamins through the lifecycle, related nutrient-nutrient and gene-nutrient interactions, which began over 25 years ago. / / 

Co-Investigator: Colum Walsh, Professor of Genetics, Ulster University 

Colum Walsh is a Professor of Genetics, specializing in the area of epigenetics, an area he has focused on since his PhD work at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He is Group Leader for Genomic Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Lead for Strategic Academic Partnerships, and is a Senior Fellow of the Royal Society for Biology, a Vice President for the Genetics Society and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, as well as Executive Editor for the Elsevier journal Genomics. He currently leads a small group of academics focusing on various aspects of epigenetic research, from fundamental mechanistic work in cell lines to collaborative population-level studies. In recent years he has led the development of interdisciplinary studies in the area with colleagues in Nutrition, Sports and Psychology among others. Bioinformatics is a particular area of current development and the group have developed a number of bespoke software applications including CandiMeth, a user-friendly tool for querying large-scale epigenetic datasets. /

Co-Investigator: Kristina Pentieva, Professor of Human Nutrition, Ulster University  

Kristina Pentieva is Professor of Human Nutrition in the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) in the School of Biomedical Sciences, Ulster University. She has worked in the area of micronutrients and human health for more than 25 years and her research has been supported by the UK Research Councils, public agencies, the European Commission and charities. She has generated more than 100 scientific papers which are published in high quality peer-reviewed journals in different disciplines. She is a member of the Scientific Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which is the body responsible for providing independent scientific advice to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU member states on matters related to human nutrition. She is also a member of the Working Group for updating the recommendations for vitamin intakes of the European population at EFSA from 2012-18. / 

Co-investigator: Mary Ward, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, Ulster University 

Mary Ward is a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Ulster University. Her research at the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) is focused on B-vitamins and one carbon metabolism and she has vast experience of conducting studies in human volunteers. A particular interest is the interaction between B-vitamins and a common polymorphism in the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) which has led to the novel discovery (Patent EP2139488) that vitamin B2 (riboflavin) appears to be an important modulator of BP in individuals with a genetic pre-disposition for hypertension. She leads an active research program at Ulster having attracted income worth >£5M from government agencies in the UK and Ireland (including a previous JPI-HDHL BBSRC funded project), the EU, Charities and Industry. To-date, Mary has supervised 19 PhD students to successful completion and has published extensively in top-ranked journals across several disciplines. She is currently Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust-Wolfson Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility and is a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of the Global Centre for Nutrition and Health in Cambridge. She is a member of the Public Health Nutrition Sub-committee at the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Mary was a member of the local organising committee of the 2019 Federation of European Nutritional Sciences conference and is also a previous Chair of the Nutrition Society (Irish) from 2009-13. / 

Postdoctoral Researcher (Nutrition): Aoife Caffrey, Research Associate, Ulster University 

Aoife Caffrey is the Postdoctoral Research Associate on the JPI-EpiBrain project at the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Ulster University. Aoife graduated with MSc Human Nutrition in 2014 and subsequently worked as a Research Associate on the FASSTT Offspring Trial at NICHE. In 2019, Aoife completed her PhD research on ‘Maternal folate nutrition and offspring health’, under the supervision of Prof Kristina Pentieva and Prof Helene McNulty. To date, Aoife has been awarded the DSM Science & Technology ‘Bright Science Award’ for innovative PhD research at the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) conference 2019; Winner of the Best PhD Thesis Prize 2019 at Ulster University; and Postgraduate Review Competition Winner 2018, The Nutrition Society Irish Section. Aoife’s research interests include the biological role of folate and related B-vitamins on cognitive health throughout the lifecycle. Her work to date has led to publications in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, BMC Medicine and Clinical Epigenetics. Aoife has presented her research findings at both national and international scientific conferences, including the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) 13th European Nutrition Conference, International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) 21st International Congress of Nutrition, and International Conferences on Homocysteine and One-Carbon Metabolism. / 

Postdoctoral Researcher (Epigenetics): Rachelle Irwin, Lecturer in Genomic Medicine, Ulster University 

Rachelle Irwin is a Lecturer in Genomic Medicine in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University. Her research in the Genomic Medicine Research Group focuses on epigenetics, with particular focus on DNA methylation changes and transcriptional control during development. In collaboration over several years with the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), she has employed molecular and bioinformatic approaches to several epidemiological nutrigenomics studies concerning genome-wide epigenetic changes during pregnancy for mother and child throughout the life course and their effects on cognition and brain health. /


Principal-Investigator: Michelle Murphy, Professora Agregat Preventative Medicine and Public Health, Universitat Rovira i Virgili  

Michelle Murphy graduated in Natural Sciences II (moderatorship in Human Physiology) from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, in 1990. She then went on to do an MSc in Human Nutrition and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Foresterhill Hospital, Aberdeen, Scotland and her PhD in the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen. She joined the Unit of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Reus, Spain, in October 1997, became Professora Agregada (full tenure senior lecturer and researcher) in 2008 and is now the coordinator of the Unit. Her principal research interests are in deciphering the physiopathological mechanisms that underlie the foetal programming of lifelong health and disease, with a special focus on nutrient-gene- epigenetic interactions stemming from the one carbon metabolic network. She has supervised 13 PhD theses, numerous MSc and final year project theses and has 4 accredited six year research periods by the Catalan Agency for University Quality. She is the Principal Investigator of the Reus-Tarragona Birth Cohort Study. She teaches medical and physiotherapy undergraduate students as well as life sciences MSc students. She is the coordinator of Basic Research and Information Sources, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Critical Reading of the Medical Literature (all to medical students), of Public Health (to physiotherapy students) as well as the MSc subjects in Treatment of data in Nutritional Epidemiology and Genetic and Population Epidemiology involving the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Universitat de les Illes Balears and Universidad de Granada. She also participates as a lecturer in General Epidemiology (to medical students).  

She is the representative for equality and founder of the committee for equality and prevention of structural and systemic violence and discrimination in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

Co-Investigator: Joan Fernández-Ballart, Professor of Perinatal and Population Epidemiology, Universitat Rovira i Virgili 

Joan Fernandez-Ballart is a specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health (Spanish Ministry for Education and Culture, 2003). He is Professor of Preventive Medicine Public Health and Epidemiology, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain. He obtained his degree in Medicine & Surgery (1984) and PhD (1986) from the Universitat de Barcelona,  a Diploma in Nutrition and Public Health from the Institut Scientifique et Technique de la Nutrition et l´Alimentation del Conservatoire National des Arts et des Métiers (ISTNA-CNAM) (Paris, 1985) and Diploma in Heath Escuela Nacional de Sanidad de Madrid (1987) as well as MSc in Metodologia en ciències de la salut, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona- (Bellaterra, 1989). 

He has 6, 6-year research periods accredited by the Comisión Nacional Evaluadora de la Actividad Investigadora de la Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación  (CNEAI-ANECA). He has supervised 15 PhD theses, authored or coauthored 20 book chapters and 150 peer-reviewed publications (H Index= 33; 4239 cites). His research interests have been focused on Nutritional and dietetic epidemiology in maternal and child health.

Co-Investigator: Josefa Canals, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, Universitat Rovira i Virgili 

Josefa Canals Sans is a full professor of Child and Adolescent Psychopathology at the Universitat Rovira i Virigli (URV) and has a long career in research. She is the Director of the Research Center for Behavior Assessment (CRAMC) of URV and co-director of the consolidated research group of the Government of Catalonia, Nutrition and Mental Health. She has recognized five six-year research periods and in the last 10 years she has supervised 12 doctoral theses. Her H-index (SCOPUS) is 25 and the ResearchGate score is 39.07. She has published more than 200 scientific manuscripts. She has received continuous funding as a PI or co-PI from funders such as Ministerio de Salud o Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación.  

Her research has been focused on the epidemiology of psychopathology in children and adolescents and the relationship between nutritional status and psychological development in children. Specifically, she has contributed to determine prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders among children and youth in Spain and evaluated epidemiological characteristics relevant for public health (e.g., incidence and impact). Also, data on micronutrients level and other environment factors in pregnancy  on neurodevelopment in offspring have been explored and published.

PhD Candidate: Alejandra Rojas, Universitat Rovira i Virgili 

Alejandra Rojas’ current research topic is prenatal gene-nutrient interactions and their relationship with development and health in the offspring. She is specifically interested in the effects of the level of maternal homocysteine and other related metabolites on metabolic markers of childhood. She did a secondment at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver between March and June 2021 under the supervision of Yvonne Lamers. Previously, she did her degree in Biology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Later, during her master’s degree in Brazil (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), her dissertation was about genetic variations, DNA methylation and perinatal outcomes in new-borns with prenatal exposure to crack and cocaine in Rio Grande do Sul.

PhD Student: Luis Adolfo Santos Calderón, Universitat Rovira I Virgili 

Luis Adolfo Santos Calderón graduated as a Medical Doctor from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, Mexico and has been practicing since 2017. He also has a strong passion for research and he studied for his MSc in Genetic, Nutritional and Environmental Factors in Growth and Development at the University of Granada / Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Spain. This gave him the opportunity to join the team in the Unit of Preventive Medicine & Public Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at the URV and he has now been awarded a grant to undertake his PhD studies with the same team. 

He is especially interested in research, teaching and clinical practice in pediatrics, especially in issues of child growth and development. For his MSc thesis, he studied the hypothesis of “Origin of the Development of Health and Disease”, where adverse events during early critical periods of growth and development, can have consequences on the health of children and increase the risks of non-communicable diseases, within the framework of the Reus-Tarragona Birth Cohort study. He has lectured in Genetics as well as giving Pediatric Clinics to undergraduate medical students at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí. His PhD in the Biomedicine programme at the URV will investigate the association between maternal and paternal monocarbonate metabolic status, and placental vascular function, gene expression in the placenta and fetal growth in mother-father-neonate triads of the Reus-Tarragona Birth Cohort “Reus -Tarragona Birth Cohort”.