Determining the impact of nutritional ketosis on individuals affected by COPD

Primary Supervisor, Jonathan Little

Supervisory team: Neil Eves

Investigating the impact of nutritional ketosis on inflammation, lung function, and exercise tolerance in individuals with COPD.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a respiratory condition associated with persistent airflow limitation and dyspnea that affects ~3 million Canadians. The role of lung inflammation in the progression of COPD is not fully understood but it has been causally linked with disease pathogenesis. The progressive worsening of airflow obstruction with COPD is associated with airway inflammation that persists even after patients avoid the noxious particulate that caused the disease. Chronic inflammation is now well-recognized to extend beyond the lungs as patients with COPD have increased systemic, heart and skeletal muscle inflammation that is linked to a number of secondary co-morbidities (especially cardiovascular disease). As such, there is growing interest in therapies that can reduce inflammation as they have the potential to slow disease progression and prevent the development of COPD comorbidities. Emerging evidence indicates that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet may have therapeutic implications for COPD. This project will help to determine if exogenous ketone supplementation and/or a ketogenic diet can have therapeutic benefit for COPD.

The ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which increases in the circulation following a ketogenic diet, has demonstrated signalling properties that directly reduce inflammatory signalling in immune cells. In addition to these potential anti-inflammatory benefits, the greater reliance on fat oxidation (a hallmark adaptation to a ketogenic diet) reduces carbon dioxide production, which could attenuate the drive to breathe during exercise and thus improve dyspnea and exercise tolerance in individuals with COPD. As such, a ketogenic diet (or an increase in circulating BHB) is an emerging therapeutic option for individuals with COPD with potential to reduce inflammation, slow disease progression, limit comorbidities, and enhance functional status. The overall theme of the project will be to investigate the role of nutritional ketosis in the treatment of COPD. The aim of the first study will be to determine whether raising blood BHB directly through the use of exogenous ketones can reduce markers of inflammation, reduce dyspnea and improve exercise tolerance in patients with COPD. The PhD student will lead a randomized crossover trial comparing exogenous ketone supplementation (0.3 g/kg body mass ketone monoester) to placebo, separated by 5-10 days with blood samples, respiratory testing, and exercise tolerance assessed in response to acute nutritional ketosis. This initial study will inform subsequent research that will examine cellular and clinical outcomes relevant to individuals with COPD following longer-term exposure to nutritional ketosis via exogenous ketone supplementation and/or a ketogenic diet.

The successful Stober Foundation Fellow will be enrolled in the  PhD in Kinesiology at UBC Okanagan, which is a research-intensive program. Formal milestones for the program include: establishing a faculty advisory committee; preparing, presenting and defending a dissertation research proposal; passing a written.  and oral candidacy exam; writing the dissertation; and defending the work.

The Stober Foundation PhD Fellowships are based on research excellence and on-going funding will be contingent on appropriate progression through the degree program as determined by the College of Graduate Studies annual report and a short, award-specific report that will be reviewed by the HES leadership committee. Insufficient progress or achievement will result in withdrawal of Fellowship funding (but will not affect the student’s standing in the PhD program).


ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Admission to UBC graduate programs is competitive. The admission requirements described on this page are only a summary so visit the College of Graduate Studies website to ensure you are familiar with all requirements.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Applicants to the PhD degree in Kinesiology are normally required to have a thesis-based master’s degree in Health and Exercise Sciences, Kinesiology, or other related field of study, along with appropriate undergraduate and graduate coursework. Applicants with an undergraduate or graduate degree in a non-Kinesiology program may be considered for admission, particularly if they have a strong background in the biological, natural, behavioural or health sciences.  In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet these grade requirements but have significant relevant research training or professional experience may be granted admission on the recommendation of the School of Health and Exercise Sciences Graduate Committee and with the approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. No applicant will be admitted to the PhD program until a member of the Health and Exercise Sciences faculty has agreed to supervise the dissertation research; thus, again, applicants are strongly urged to identify and contact a potential research supervisor prior to beginning an application.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for full information of admission and program requirements; the Calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia. * In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Applicants to the PhD degree in Kinesiology are normally required to have a thesis-based master’s degree in Health and Exercise Sciences, Kinesiology, or other related field of study, along with appropriate undergraduate and graduate coursework. Applicants with an undergraduate or graduate degree in a non-Kinesiology program may be considered for admission, particularly if they have a strong background in the biological, natural, behavioural or health sciences.  In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet these grade requirements but have significant relevant research training or professional experience may be granted admission on the recommendation of the School of Health and Exercise Sciences Graduate Committee and with the approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Applicants from universities outside Canada for which English is not the primary language of instruction must present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language prior to being extended an offer of admission. Acceptable English language proficiency tests and minimum required test scores for admission are listed on the College of Graduate Studies website. No applicant will be admitted to the program until a member of the Health and Exercise Sciences faculty has agreed to supervise the thesis research; thus, applicants are strongly urged to identify and contact a potential research supervisor prior to beginning an application. Test scores must have been taken within the last 24 months.

No applicant will be admitted to the PhD program until a member of the Health and Exercise Sciences faculty has agreed to supervise the dissertation research; thus, again, applicants are strongly urged to identify and contact a potential research supervisor prior to beginning an application.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for full information of admission and program requirements; the Calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia. * In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Grades and degree credentials required by UBC vary by country and institution. Search the Required Grades and Credential Guide — a guide to assist international students in estimating their eligibility.

An international student advisor can answer questions about immigration, medical insurance and the transition to UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Go to the International Programs and Services website to meet the team.


Tuition & Funding

UBC Okanagan’s tuition and fees compare favourably with universities of the same high calibre.

Tuition

Tuition amounts presented here are estimates only and all fees are subject to change. For official tuition and fee information, visit UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar*, a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at The University of British Columbia.

Program Schedule Domestic (per year) International (per year)
Msc Full-time $4,995.78 $8,776.74
PhD Full-time $4,995.78 $8,776.74**

Tuition is paid three times a year at the beginning of each term, and on the first day of the term, as per the Academic Calendar: Winter Term 1 (September), Winter Term 2 (January), and Summer Term (May).

In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct..

Note: International doctoral applicants with an admission grade point average (GPA) of first-class standing may receive the International Four-Year Doctoral Partial Tuition Award, which will cover the difference between international and domestic tuition fees

Stober Fellowship Funding Opportunity

The UBC Stober Fellowship Program has been established as a catalyst for excellence in health-related research and student training within the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus. The Stober PhD Fellowship program funds four, four-year PhD Fellowships within the School of Health and Exercise Science. The Fellowships will begin in 2021  with the generous support of $25,000 for four years for four exceptional trainees. The Stober PhD Fellowship is designed to strengthen world-class health research taking place in the Okanagan. Applications are now open.

Doctoral scholarship funding is available for a motivated student with a solid background in physiology and a keen interest in using a translational approach to human research involving clinical studies and cellular/molecular analyses. The successful student will be co-supervised by Drs. Little and Eves who will create a unique and interdisciplinary training experience. Dr. Little’s lab has considerable expertise in performing studies with nutritional ketosis and investigating the inflammatory and immunological responses to ketosis in health and metabolic disease. Dr. Eves is a clinical exercise and respiratory physiologist with demonstrated expertise in assessing respiratory and cardiovascular disease outcomes in patients with COPD. Interested applicants should email either Dr. Little (jonathan.little@ubc.ca) or Dr. Eves (neil.eves@ubc.ca) directly with a CV and a statement of interest.

 

awards & scholarships

UBC Awards

The College of Graduate Studies administers merit-based graduate awards at the Okanagan campus. The College manages a number of award competitions each year and administers payment of all internal awards and selected external awards.

External Awards

All prospective graduate students should explore and apply for external awards and fellowships, including, in the case of domestic students, scholarships offered by Canada’s three research councils: CIHRNSERC and SSHRC.

Graduate scholarships and awards may also be available from foundations, private companies or foreign governments (check with your country’s education authority).


UBC’S OKANAGAN CAMPUS

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. At the School of Engineering on UBC’s Okanagan campus, you gain all the benefits of attending a globally respected university while studying in a close-knit learning community.

DYNAMIC CITY

UBC’s Okanagan campus borders the dynamic city of Kelowna, a hub of economic development with a population of about 150,000 people—the fourth fastest growing population in Canada. In fact, the Okanagan Valley is rated one of the best communities in Canada to grow your business.

More than 160 buses travel daily from campus to key locations such as Kelowna’s cultural district and thriving downtown waterfront. The campus is two minutes from the Kelowna International Airport, one of the top 10 busiest airports in Canada.

UBC Okanagan is situated within the First Nations territory of the Okanagan Nation, whose spirit of stewardship for the land is reflected in the university’s respect for sustainability.

NATURAL BEAUTY

A diverse natural region with sandy beaches, beautiful farms, vineyards and orchards, and snow-capped mountains, the Okanagan Valley features sweeping stretches of lakeside and endless mountain trails for biking and hiking.

Check out this 360-degree video: Kelowna From Above.*

* Best viewed using desktop Chrome or Firefox (desktop) or YouTube app (mobile).

CAMPUS HOUSING

Full-time UBC Okanagan students can live in residence, which offers modern living with easy access to academic and personal support. Residences are surrounded by hiking and biking trails, plus panoramic views of the campus and valley.

OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING

* UBC does not verify or endorse information shared on this third-party website, which is offered here as a public resource only.

Clubs: Make friends with similar interests, stay informed, and organize or participate in academic and recreational events in the Graduate Health and Exercise Sciences Society.

Events: Various orientations help graduate students to explore, discover and learn about the School of Engineering, UBC Okanagan, and living in the Okanagan Valley.

Stay active: Take advantage of the many opportunities to get involved and play—from workout space in the new Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre and our 1,561 square-metre gymnasium, to athletic courts, intramurals, fitness classes and nationally ranked varsity athletics. Have a ball in Sports and Recreation.

Relax: The Graduate Collegium is a gathering place where grad students can hang out, eat lunch, spend time with their fellow students, and attend or host special events. The lounge-style room is open seven days and week and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, kitchen facilities, and individual and group-work spaces.

College of Graduate Studies: Your hub for administrative support and such things as graduate workshops for professional development and for assisting you from the admissions process through to your graduation.

Centre for Scholarly Communication: Supports graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff, and faculty in disseminating their research. The Library’s CSC provides one-on-one consultations and workshops, including writing support for theses, dissertations, journal articles, and grant proposals.

Centre for Teaching and Learning: Provides support related to teaching, TA training, and use of technology in educational programming.

Learn more about graduate student resources and support.

Career Services

Map out your future and prepare to hit the ground running with resources and services provided by the Advising & Involvement Centre.

Tell your story with resumé and cover-letter strategies, and search Work Study jobs for experience relevant to your degree and career goals. You can also book an appointment to meet one-on-one with our career advisor.

alumni UBC

alumni UBC is a member-driven association that offers a variety of lifetime programming and communications to enrich the lives of UBC graduates.

The ‘Your Next Step’ program offers webinars, speaker series and professional development sessions. It is designed to provide advice, tips and resources in areas of career development to graduates for life after university.

Realize the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC.