Scientific Advisory Council

OC SAC Bio

Our Scientific Advisory Council Members

Stephanie Ann Atkinson, PhD, FCAHS

Professor and Associate Chair (Research) Department of Pediatrics, and Associate Member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario

Special Professional Staff member
McMaster Children’s Hospital

Member of the SAC since 2005

Areas of Interest/Expertise: Maternal and Pediatric Nutrition; Bone Metabolism; Pediatric Bone Disorders; Vitamin D and Calcium; Developmental Origins of Disease.

SAC Activities:

  1. Consultant on nutrition issues
  2. Speaker
  3. Past member of the Executive, Research, and Guidelines Committees.

Biography:

Dr. Atkinson originally qualified as a pediatric clinical nutritionist and worked at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. After completion of a PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and post-doctoral fellowship in Endocrinology at The Hospital for Sick Children, she began her research career in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. Her research has focused on studying the factors influencing skeletal development in infants and children with bone disorders secondary to pediatric diseases or drug therapy. In premature infants, her research contributed to improvements in the nutritional management to benefit growth and bone mineralization, especially the use of preterm mother’s milk for feeding in early life and the development of appropriate human milk fortifiers. In studying bony morbidity in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), she made original observations of abnormal mineral and vitamin D metabolism in ALL children treated with steroid drugs. Subsequent investigations elucidated the impact of the disease process and/or drug therapy (particularly steroids) on mineral and bone metabolism in other pediatric clinical disease populations such as other pediatric cancers, nephrosis, rheumatoid disorders, cystic fibrosis or epilepsy. Her lab developed a piglet model of steroid (dexamethasone)-induced abnormalities in growth and skeletal development through which we have elucidated the mechanisms by which steroids alter growth processes and evaluate various adjunctive therapies aimed at preserving somatic and skeletal growth during critical periods of development. Recent research focuses on evaluations of both pre- and post-natal factors that influence metabolic programming and later child health outcomes such as osteoporosis. The focus on developmental programming continues through current RCTs in pregnancy designed to examine maternal and child health outcomes in response to nutrition + exercise interventions.

Dr. Atkinson is recognized for her leadership and vision in promoting nutrition through many elected positions and expert advisory appointments in professional societies, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Distinguished positions held include a Governor-in-Council appointment to the inaugural Governing Council of The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (2000-2005) and election as President of the American Society for Nutrition. Beginning in 1995 she held a 9-year appointment by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in Washington to the Oversight Committee for the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) reports. Currently, she serves as a Consultant on the Scientific Advisory Council for Osteoporosis Canada, a member of the Board of Trustees of the North American International Life Sciences Institute (Washington, DC); a member of the Paediatric Expert Advisory Committee of Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada; and an executive member and nutrition lead of the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientists’ Program – a CIHR-funded strategic training program. In 2009, she was appointed by CIHR to the Institute Advisory Board of the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes and in 2010 was appointed by the President of CIHR as Chair of the Institute Advisory Board. In 2011, she was elected to the inaugural Board of Directors of the Maternal, Infant, Child and Youth Health Research Network and appointed as Vice-chair of the Board.

Professional Awards and/or Accomplishments:

  1. Danone Institute Distinguished Nutrition Leadership Award (2008)
  2. Carmelle Murphy Alumnae Award of Distinction from Brescia University College (2011)
  3. Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (nominated by Osteoporosis Canda) (2012)

Link to Research Publications: