Nutrition and Metabolism
Nutrition and Metabolism
With a view to optimizing health and quality of life in humans and growth and reproduction function in animals, researchers in the Nutrition and Metabolism Group, in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science (AFNS), focus on digestion, absorption, and utilization of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals in domestic animals. Understanding how nutrition affects metabolism in domestic animals is key to regulating such economically important processes as growth, reproduction, and milk production. In humans, an understanding of nutrition and metabolism contributes to human health and disease prevention.
The core members of the group have established international reputations in their fields and received numerous distinguished awards for their research.
The group's research extends from genetics to studies of domestic livestock to development of new strategies in nutrition and health management for humans and animals. Specialized areas of study include cancer, diabetes, the immune system, the environment, animal reproductive physiology and lactation, nutrition of infants, children and youth, as well as health promotion strategies.
Nutrition and metabolism is a recognized area of excellence at the University of Alberta with strengths in human nutrition and metabolism. The Human Nutrition Research Unit explores links between nutrition and human health. Research activities are strategically focused on health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and infant and child health, with the ultimate goal of preventing diseases and enhancing the quality of human life.
In the area of animal science, research activities range from animal nutrition and metabolism, physiology, animal breeding, molecular genetics, genomics, ethology, and biotechnology to wildlife productivity and management, and extend across commodities: beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry, bison, deer, and elk. The focus of livestock research in the AFNS is on issues of importance to the agri-food industry: food safety, food quality, production efficiency and sustainability, and environmental health.
These research technology platforms are well supported by the world-class infrastructure available through the Kinsella Research Station (including the Precision Ranching Centre), the Edmonton Research Station (including dairy, poultry, swine, and metabolic units), and the Biotechnology Centre. These facilities are capable of accommodating large-scale, experimental and intensive livestock research. In addition, a new, world-class Discovery Centre will be built at the Edmonton Research Station to support research in food safety and food processing. This new Discovery Centre will allow totally integrated studies of all aspects of pork and poultry production and processing in the Edmonton area.
The Beef Genomics Program aims to develop an understanding of how genetic variation in cattle populations can be used to increase the production efficiency and quality of beef while reducing waste outputs such as CO2, methane, and manure.
The emphasis of the internationally recognized Dairy Cattle Research Program at the University's Dairy Research and Technology Centre (DRTC) is on increasing the efficiency of milk production and improving the nutritional quality and health benefits of milk through a greater understanding of dairy cow digestion and metabolism.
The Swine Reproduction and Development Program (SRDP) builds on two main areas of pork research excellence in the AFNS: swine nutrition and swine reproduction and breeding herd management.
The Poultry Research Program consists of a dedicated team of scientists conducting research that is aimed at benefiting egg and poultry producers and processors, not only in Alberta, but nationally and internationally as well. The research areas cover the range of the poultry value chain from reproductive efficiency of chicken and turkey breeders, egg incubation and applied embryology, poultry nutrition, and production efficiency and economics to value-added product development, food packaging, and safety.
The Beef Research Program at the University's Beef Research and Technology Centre and the Kinsella Research Station is focused on beef cattle research in physiology, nutrition, biochemistry, metabolism and molecular biology, and range management systems. The Beef Research Program responds to current industry needs in the area of production efficiency, agri-food technology, and nutrition and human health. The program is internationally renowned thanks to the expertise of such researchers as Dr Mick Price.
The Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science is also adding muscle to a province-wide Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences Alberta initiative to create a Value-Added Meat Network. The Network will make the expertise of all meat science and technology resources in Alberta available to the meat industry. It is seen as an important step in achieving Alberta's goal of increasing the value-added portion of its meat industries from under $1 billion annually in 2003 to over $3 billion annually by 2010.