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Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, Faculty of Health and Social DevelopmentOther Titles: Investigator
Office: RHS 122
Graduate student supervisor
Little's research is focused on understanding how the metabolic disruptions that characterize type 2 diabetes affect cellular inflammation and explore how different exercise and nutritional strategies can be used to reduce inflammation and improve overall cardiometabolic health.
My interest in metabolism began as a competitive distance runner as I became fascinated with trying to understand how the body produced energy to fuel exercise. I was first introduced to research as an undergraduate summer student working in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Gibala at McMaster University and was quickly hooked. After pursuing an MSc degree at the University of Saskatchewan focusing on sport nutrition I returned to McMaster to complete my PhD focusing on muscle mitochondrial adaptations to exercise in healthy humans and individuals with type 2 diabetes. These experiences gave me a strong background in human exercise physiology and metabolism. In my postdoctoral fellowship at UBC I explored how metabolic disruptions associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (e.g., high glucose, hyperlipidemia) impacted inflammatory activation of isolated cells. In my current lab we combine all of these approaches to understand how the metabolic disruptions that characterize type 2 diabetes affect cellular inflammation and explore how different exercise and nutritional strategies can be used to reduce inflammation and improve overall cardiometabolic health.
Hons B. Kin – McMaster University – 2005
M.Sc. – University of Saskatchewan – 2007
Ph.D. – McMaster University – 2010
Postdoctoral Fellowship – University of British Columbia – 2010-2012
Research Interests & Projects
Obesity, insulin resistance (prediabetes), and type 2 diabetes are interrelated disorders characterized by progressively deteriorating metabolic health. Metabolic impairments in these conditions lead to many negative health consequences, including chronic low-grade inflammation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Research in the Exercise Metabolism and Inflammation Laboratory (EMIL) is focused on: 1) Optimizing exercise and nutritional strategies to prevent, treat and reverse type 2 diabetes; and 2) Understanding how exercise, diet, and metabolic disruptions impact immune cell function.
We utilize a translational approach, where in vivo studies and clinical trials in humans with type 2 diabetes guide cell culture experiments designed to understand molecular mechanisms, and vice versa.
In our human physiology laboratory located in the Arts Building we have a metabolic cart, vascular ultrasound equipment, treadmill, cycle ergometers, elliptical trainer, resistance training equipment, and a medical procedures area which enable us to conduct studies ranging from acute exercise and nutritional manipulations to clinical exercise trials with metabolic measurements.
In our cellular and molecular laboratory located in the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre, we have additional clinical testing space to collect blood samples and perform acute exercise and nutritional studies with adjacent cell culture suite, flow cytometer, MagPIX(R) multiplex reader, MSD Quickplex reader, real-time PCR machine, multi-function plate reader, and western blot equipment.
Key experimental techniques utilized include continuous glucose monitoring, flow-mediated dilation, whole blood cultures, immune cell isolation/culture, and multi-colour flow cytometry. Current nutrition interests include low-carbohydrate diets and nutritional ketosis, whereas exercise studies are focused on high-intensity interval training and exercise “snacks”.
Interested graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to contact me directly via email at email@example.com.
At the undergraduate level, I teach HMKN 313 – Exercise Metabolism and supervise students in HMKN 499 Research Practicum.
Affiliations & Networks
UBCO Eminence Cluster Airborne Disease Transmission
BC Diabetes Research Network
UBCO Southern Medical Program, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention & Management
Associate Editor for Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism & National Consulting Editor for Canadian Journal of Diabetes.
Selected Publications & Presentations
Full list in Pubmed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1v511Uk7jsGA6/bibliography/public/
Google Scholar Profile: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=0K8zss8AAAAJ&hl=en
Selected Grants & Awards
Killam Accelerator Research Fellowship, 2021-2023
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Young Investigator Award, October 2020
UBC Killam Research Fellowship, March 2018
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar, 2018-2023
American College of Sports Medicine New Investigator Award, May 2016
Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Salary Award, 2015-2020