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About Dr. David Ma

Dr. David Ma
Dr. David Ma, University of Guelph

Dr. David W.L. Ma obtained his PhD in Medical Sciences in 2001 at the University of Alberta conducting research on the anticancer properties of conjugated linoleic acids in breast cancer.  He then moved to Texas A&M University where he did postdoctoral research investigating the role of omega-3 fatty acids and folate in colon cancer. He returned to Canada where he joined the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in 2004.  Then, in 2007 joined the faculty in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph where he is currently Professor and Director of the Guelph Family Health Study. 

The long term objective of Dr. Ma’s research program is to increase our fundamental knowledge of the role of dietary fatty acids in human health and disease.  Currently, research is primarily focused on breast cancer prevention and how omega-3 fatty acids modify mammary gland development, signaling, and tumour development through the lifecyle. In addition, he is the Director of the Guelph Family Health Study, one of the largest active family cohorts in Canada. This cohort examines determinants of health and tests interventions for the prevention of childhood obesity.

In addition to his academic responsibilities, Dr. Ma is also very active in his society serving on several committees and a former President of the Canadian Nutrition Society. He has also served on grant review panels (CIHR & Cancer Research Society), consulted for the food/fats & oils industry, and provided scientific leadership in the development of an unsaturated fat and cholesterol reduction health claim in Canada.


Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, College of Biological Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
Jul 2017 – Present, Professor

Jul 2010 – Jun 2017, Associate Professor (with Tenure)
Sep 2007 – Jun 2010, Assistant Professor

SMART – Healthy Cities Research Training Platform in Implementation Science 
Jul 2021 – Present, Principal Investigator

Guelph Family Health Study, University of Guelph
Nov 2013 – Present, Director

University of Guelph Research Leadership Chair
Jul 2017 – Jun 2020

Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, University of Guelph, ON, Canada
2017 – Present, Adjunct Professor

Canadian Nutrition Society
May 2022, CNS-SCN Fellow
May 2018 – May 2019, Past President

Feb 2017 – May 2018, President
Jun 2013 – 2017, Vice President-Research and President-Elect

Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Sep 2007 – Present, Professor – Status only

Jul 2004 – Aug 2007, Assistant Professor

Faculty of Nutrition, Molecular & Cell Biology Group, Texas A&M University, TX, College Station, USA.
Jul 2002 – Jun 2004, NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow & Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Postdoctoral Fellow (concurrent).

Nutrition and Metabolism Research Group and MTI Metatech Inc, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Sep 2001- Jun 2002, Postdoctoral


2002-2004, Postdoc, Nutrition and Cancer, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA

2001-2002, Postdoc, Nutrition and Metabolism, University of Alberta & MTI Meta Tech Inc. Edmonton, Canada

2001, Ph.D., Medical Sciences-Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

1996, B.Sc. (Honors) Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Canadian Nutrition Society

American Society for Nutrition
American Oil Chemists Society
International Society for the Study of Fats and Lipids
American Association for Cancer Research
International Society of Nutrigenomics/Nutrigenetics

Major government and foundation operating grants include:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
Cancer Research Society (CRS)
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Philanthropic and institutional funding includes:
The Helderleigh Foundation
University of Guelph – Health For Life Initiative, Better Planet Project

Major infrastructure grants include:
1. Fatty acid research. CFI and NSERC supported gas chromatographs equipped with FID detectors for fatty acid analyses. Three instruments are setup for routine fatty acid and cis/trans isomer separation.
2. Family health research. CFI supported BodPods and accelerometers for measuring body composition and physical activity/sleep.
3. Basic research. NSERC supported flow cytometer with cell sorting capability, Digital Droplet PCR and BioPlex