Facebook Pixel Code
About Sickkids
About SickKids

December 4, 2012

Roth a winner of Gates Foundation grant

Dr. Daniel Roth, Staff Physician, Scientist-Track Investigator and Assistant Professor of Paediatrics and Nutritional Sciences, is a winner of a four-year, $2-million grant from the Achieving Healthy Growth program within the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Roth and colleagues at SickKids and University of Toronto are partnering with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), to study the mechanisms by which vitamin D and parathyroid hormone influence fetal and infant growth in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Their research may lead to the development of novel approaches and therapeutics to address an important issue in global child health.  

“The focus of this study will be to examine the effect of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy on fetal and infant growth, as well as to try to understand the underlying biological mechanisms, including epigenetic pathways,” Roth says.

If proven to be safe and efficacious, prenatal vitamin D supplementation could eventually be implemented to reduce the prevalence of early childhood stunting in South Asia.

Roth has collaborated with icddr,b for over four years, and has studied prenatal vitamin D supplementation in Bangladesh since 2009.

Dr. Stan Zlotkin, Chief of Global Child Health at SickKids, is co-investigator on the new study. He describes Roth as a key researcher in the new SickKids Global Child Health program. “Dan Roth has proposed a novel approach to understand the etiology of growth faltering of infants in low and middle-income countries,” Zlotkin says. “He is to be highly congratulated in obtaining this Gates Foundation funding in a very competitive research funding environment."

In addition to studying mechanisms by which vitamin D and parathyroid hormone influence fetal and infant growth, the research team plans to study the association between prenatal vitamin D supplementation and viral respiratory and gastrointestinal disease in infants in the first six months of life, says Shaun Morris, Clinician-Scientist in Infectious Diseases.

“Viral infections, especially influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and rotavirus are the cause of significant morbidity in infants. We hope to leverage the existing cohort in Bangladesh and use molecular diagnostic tools to determine the degree to which immune modulation from prenatal vitamin D supplementation may reduce incidence and severity from these and other viral infections in infants.”

Morris hopes vitamin D could become a new and inexpensive tool to reduce infectious morbidity in the most high-risk period of childhood.

Other participating scientists at SickKids include Khosrow Adeli, Head of Clinical Biochemistry at SickKids and Professor of Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Dr. Rosanna Weksberg, Senior Associate Scientist in Genetics and Genome Biology and Professor of Molecular Genetics in the Institute of Medical Science, and Andrew Willan, Senior Scientist in Child Health Evaluative Sciences and Professor of Biostatistics.  

The goal of the Healthy Growth grant program is to discover the causes of faltering growth during the first 1,000 days of life and to identify effective and affordable interventions to promote healthy growth. Roth’s project was one of seven grants announced Dec. 4.