Catherine ChanCatherine Chan, PhD

Office:     6-126B, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation
Mail:       University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada T6G 2E1
Phone     780-492-9939
Fax:       780-492-8836


Current Position                                                       


Professor, Dept. of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science

Director, Division of Human Nutrition, Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science


Research Areas


Human nutrition


Research Goals


We are interested in fundamental and translational aspects of insulin secretion and action in metabolic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. In particular, how nutritional status affects these parameters.

In addition, we have a major research interest in improving quality of life for people with type 2 diabetes through development, implementation and evaluation of lifestyle programs focused on nutrition and physical activity (the PANDA project).


Current Research Activities

Granting Agency:  University of Alberta, Food and Health Innovation Initiative
Title:  Benefits of eating pulses related to B vitamins.
Researcher:  Chan CB (PI), Jacobs R, Bell R
Start/End Date:  2012-2013
Stage of Project:  Discovery and Translation



Granting Agency:  Dairy Farmers of Canada 

Title:  Effect of naturally occurring trans fat on beta-cell function and survival.

Researcher:  Chan CB (PI), Proctor S, Rayat G
Start/End Date:  2011-2013
Stage of Project:  Discovery

Human Studies


Grant Agency:  ADI
Title:  Physical Activity and Nutrition for Diabetes in Alberta (PANDA):  Effectiveness testing
Researchers:  Chan (PI) and 9 others

Start/End Dates:  2012-2013
Study Synopsis: Overall Objective: Our long-term vision is to change the food environment in Alberta in

order to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Specific Objective: The objective of this PANDA (Physical Activity and Nutrition for

Diabetes in Alberta) proposal is to translate our recent research on barriers and potential

solutions to adherence to lifestyle changes in T2D into a practical and effective intervention.

The primary outcome will be improved adherence to nutrition guidelines for T2D treatment.

Rationale: Although implementing nutrition therapy is important in controlling blood sugar

and diabetes complications, people with T2D find adherence difficult. We will use the results

of a recently completed “Consensus Conference” to implement a behavioural intervention in a

series of modules. Through this process, diabetes patients and educators provided advice on

strategies that will be incorporated into the intervention. Additional research on barriers to

adherence and the benefits of including specific foods in the diet will also be translated into

elements of the intervention.

Outline: Using a pre-post design, we will compare dietary adherence, as measured by repeated

24-h recalls in a 12 week nutritional intervention. Anthropometrics, metabolic/clinical and

other behavioural outcomes will also be measured. The importance of food availability,

accessibility and acceptability will be assessed.

Significance: Involving T2D patients in intervention design, theory-based curriculum, and

self-selection of optional modules has the potential to enhance long-term dietary adherence,

thereby improving glucose control and quality of life, reducing the risk of complications for

individuals and for reducing the burden on the health care system.

Study Status:  Project is in progress (anticipate recruiting in Fall 2012)
Contact Info:  Dr. Cathy Chan,, 780-492-9939



Grant Agency:  Alberta Innovates BioSolutions
Title:  Substantiating a health claims for pulses (beans and peas) and cholesterol-lowering

Researchers:  Bell RC (PI) and Chan CB and 9 others

Start/End Date:  2012-2015
Study synopsis:  Objective: to conduct a multi-centre randomized control trial to specifically compare the effectiveness of individual types of pulses on total and LDL cholesterol in humans. We hypothesize that increased consumption of pulses, regardless of the type, will result in improved cholesterol profiles in people with mild hypercholesterolemia.  Specific aims: 1) Develop study foods containing an effective a dose of  beans, peas or potato ( control); 2) Characterize the nutritional profile of pulse ingredients and study food matrices according to Health Canada's standards for evidence used to substantiate a health claim; 3) Conduct a multi-centre, randomized control trial in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women to specifically compare the biological effectiveness of beans or pea (vs. potato)  on total and LDL cholesterol (primary outcomes) and additional key risk factors for CVD ( triglycerides, body weight/ body fatness, fasting glucose and insulin, oxidative stress and inflammation; 4) test the acceptability of study foods in a broad cross-section of consumers.  Deliverables: 1) Food items containing beans or peas and data on consumer acceptability of these items; 2) Publications in a peer-reviewed journals demonstrating  the clinical efficacy of beans and peas and their positive effect on cholesterol ; this evidence will substantiate a  strong health claim submission.

Study Status:  Project is in progress.
Contact Info:  Dr. Rhonda Bell,, Telephone: 780-492-2272



Grant Agency:  Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency

Title:  The Alberta Diet: a proposal for its implementation

Researchers:  Chan CB (PI)

Start/End Date:  2011-2013
Study synopsis:  The Alberta Diet is a set of dietary recommendations, menu plans and recipes that incorporates, where possible, Alberta grown agricultural products emphasizing their contribution to healthy lifestyles.  Its adoption by Albertans has the potential to enhance overall health and reduce dietary risk factors for chronic disease, for example cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Increased appreciation for and consumption of Alberta-grown agricultural products will benefit the food growing and processing industries.


The Alberta Diet will be based on Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, being mindful of recommendations for specific chronic diseases (eg. Low glycemic index foods for type 2 diabetes). The Alberta Diet emphasizes a dietary pattern that is high in vegetables and fruits, complex carbohydrates and fibre, incorporates increased mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), n-3 fatty acids and ruminant-derived trans fats while decreasing sodium, saturated and industrial trans fatty acids. Some of the Alberta-grown products emphasized in the Alberta diet include pulses (dried peas, beans), ruminant-derived trans fatty acids in dairy and beef products, and bioactive oils (canola, flax).  Ongoing research is targeted at establishing the basis for health benefits associated with these products. 


The Alberta Diet team now aims to roll out the Alberta Diet across the province.  Key thrusts include developing knowledge translation and public education strategies based on new value chain and marketing research as well as the accrued scientific data. The team will work with stakeholders in Alberta’s health- and agriculture-related portfolios and the Alberta agriculture industry to maximize benefits and facilitate implementation.


These activities will support key government mandates to: 1) increase the health and well-being of Albertans; 2) reduce chronic disease risk and incidence; 3) enhance value-added activity, increase innovation and improve long-run economic stability; 4) strengthen the agriculture sector through differentiated and value-added agricultural products.  These activities directly address Making the Food-Health Connection, an Alberta Framework for Innovation.


Study Status:  Project is in progress.
Contact Info:  Dr. Cathy Chan,, Telephone: 780-492-9939


Other Activities and Affiliations

Department of Physiology

Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition
Alberta Diabetes Institute

Current Membership and Community Representation:

1986-present   Member, Physiological Society

1993-present   Member, American Diabetes Association

1994-present   Member, Canadian Diabetes Association

2005-present   Editorial Board, Nutrition Journal

2006-present   Treasurer, Canadian Physiological Society

2006-present   Principle Member, Alberta Diabetes Institute (ADI) and Muttart Diabetes

Research Training Centre

2009-present   Director, Division of Human Nutrition

2009-present   Member, Chair’s Team, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science

2009-present   Member (ex officio), Nutrition and Food Science Program Committee

2009-present   2008-present   Member, Faculty Academic Program, Division Human Nutrition,                            University of Alberta

2009-present   Research Coordinating Committee, Alberta Diabetes Institute

2010-present   Member, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry Med Star Awards Review Committee

2011-present   Member, Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS)


Major Achievements


Research Highlights:
• We discovered the role of uncoupling protein 2 in regulation of insulin secretion from beta-cells and made major contributions to understanding its mechanism of action.
• We showed how disturbances in glucokinase function contributed to inappropriate insulin secretion in rodent obesity models.
• We translated a physical activity program developed for people with type 2 diabetes into a program for the general public and implemented it in PEI workplaces, community programs, secondary and elementary schools.
• We studied how consideration of the food environment affects dietary intake and quality in people with type 2 diabetes, as background for the development and implementation of novel lifestyle programs.




Dr. Chan trained as a physiologist in Canada (UBC) and the USA. She joined the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta in 2006 as Professor, after 18 years on the faculty of the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island.  Area of focus:  Beta cell biology, insulin biology, behavioural interventions for type 2 diabetes.


Selected Publications


1)         Zhang CY, Baffy G, Perret P, Krauss S, Peroni O, Grujic D, Hagen T, Vidal-Puig AJ, Boss O, Kim YB, Zheng XX, Wheeler MB, Shulman GI, Chan CB, Lowell BB.  Uncoupling protein-2 negatively regulates insulin secretion and is a major link between obesity, ß cell dysfunction, and type 2 diabetes.  Cell  2001; 105:745-755

2)         Chan CB, Ryan DAJ, Tudor-Locke C.  Health benefits of a pedometer-based physical activity intervention in sedentary workers.  Prev Med 2004;39-1215-1222

3)         Kashemsant N, Chan CB.  Uncoupling protein-2 overexpression leads to impaired processing of proinsulin.  J Mol Endocrinol 2006;37:525-534

4)         Chan CB, Tudor-Locke C.  Effect of a community-based pedometer intervention.  J Phys Act Health 2008;5:675-687

5)         Diao J, Koshkin V, Allister EM, Lee SC, Bhattacharjee A, Chan CB, Wheeler MB.  Ucp2 is highly expressed in pancreatic alpha-cells and influences secretion and survival.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2008;105:12057-12062

6)         Berry T, Anders S, Chan C, Bell RC.  Communicating diabetes best practices to clients: a preliminary examination of educator perspectives.  Health Promot Pract 2012133:388-394

7)         Nino Fong R, Fatehi-Hassanabad Z, Lee SC, Lu H, Wheeler MB, Chan CB.  Uncoupling protein-2 increases nitric oxide production and TNFAIP3 pathway activation in pancreatic islets.  J Mol Endocrinol 2011;46:193-204

8)         Whitlock KA, Kozicky L, Yee H, Jin A, Ha C, Morris J, Field CJ, Bell RC, Ozga J, Chan CB.  Evaluation of the mechanisms exerting glucose-lowering effects of dried peas in glucose intolerant rats.  Br J Nutr 2012; in press.

9)         Wan Z, Ritchie I, Chan CB, Wright DC.  IL-6 indirectly modulates the induction of glyceroneogenic enzymes in adipose tissue during exercise.  PLoS One 2012;7:e41719

10)      Kashemsant N, Bucurescu S, Fatehi-Hassanabad Z, Harper ME, Chan CB.  Impairment of proinsulin processing in beta-cells exposed to saturated free fatty acid is dependent on uncoupling protein-2 expression.  Can J Diabetes 2012; accepted for publication.





Degree or Title

Project Description


Completion Date


Ms. Ghada Asaad

Ph.D. student

PANDA effectiveness intervention

Jan. 2012



Ms. Hebah Salawi

Ph.D. Student

Behavioral and biological characteristics of severely obese children

Jan. 2012



Ms. Kaiyuan Yang

Ph.D. Student

Characterization of polyphenols in pea seed coats and effects on glucose homeostasis in insulin resistant rats

Sept. 2010



Ms. Zohre Hashemi

Ph.D. Student

Effects of pea seed coat and their preparation on glucose homeostasis in insulin resistant rats.

Jan. 2010



Ms. Zhangxiiao Wan

Ph.D. Student

Effects of exercise on adipose tissue metabolism in rats

Sept 2008

Sept. 2012


Ms. Feiyue Deng

Ph.D. Student

A culturally sensitive menu plan for Chinese Canadians with type 2 diabetes

Sept. 2010



Ms. Diana Soria Contreras

M.Sc. Student

Implementation of the Alberta Diet resource in a cohort of type 2 diabetes patients



Jan. 2010



Ms. Anrun Zhang

B.Sc. Student

Human nutrition research project

July 2012

Aug. 2012


Ms. Yuzhu Liang

Summer student

Human nutrition research project

Sept. 2011

Aug. 2012


Mr. Joel Gupta

Summer student

Human nutrition research project

May 2012

Aug. 2012


Ms. Mandy Hong

M.Sc. Student

Dr. Yves Sauve, ophthalmology research project

Sept. 2011


Supervisory or Examination Committee

Mr. Jelena Kolic

PhD Student

Dr. Patrick MacDonald, pharmacology research project

Sept. 2009


Supervisory or Examination Committee

Ms. Karen Kelly

Ph.D. Student

Dr. Rene Jacobs, human nutrition research project

May 2012


Supervisory or Examination Committee


Websites of Interest


Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science profile