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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Robert Bandsma, MD, PhD

The Hospital for Sick Children
Staff Gastroenterologist
Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Research Institute
Translational Medicine

University of Toronto
Assistant Professor

Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 305492
Fax: 416-813-4972
Email: robert.bandsma@sickkids.ca
Alternate Contact: Clarisse Cacho
Alternate Email: clarisse.cacho@sickkids.ca

Brief Biography

Dr. Robert Bandsma received his B.Sc. from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He then went on to complete a PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Groningen. Dr. Bandsma completed his MD and subspecialty training at the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands and a Subspecialty Fellowship in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the Hospital for Sick Children. He then completed additional training in Tropical Pediatrics from Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Tropical School of Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom. He was a honorary lecturer at the University of Malawi, College of Medicine and was a staff physician at the Queen Elisabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre Malawi. During his period in Malawi he performed multiple research projects funded through a post-doctoral research grant. He completed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Lewis, Division of Advanced Diagnostics – Metabolism, Toronto General Research Institute.  During his Post-doctoral Fellowship, he received a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award.

Research Interests

Dr. Bandsma’s clinical and basic research has focused on understanding the regulation of nutrient metabolism. Specifically, his interest has been around the regulation of carbohydrate, lipid and bile acid metabolism in health and disease. He currently has two main areas of interest.


Dr. Bandsma’s research has focused on understanding the pathogenesis of the metabolic dysadaptation in severe malnutrition.  Malnutrition is still a widespread condition worldwide. The severest form of malnutrition is, either directly or indirectly, leading to around 45% of all deaths per year of children age 0-5 years. Severe malnutrition is associated with profound metabolic changes which are poorly understood. Apart from properly designed randomized clinical trials, there is an urgent need to elucidate the mechanisms behind the dysadaptive metabolic changes in severe malnutrition.

Dr. Bandsma’s collaborative research aims at understanding the pathophysiology of severe malnutrition to be able to improve current treatment guidelines and thereby child survival. The lab focuses specifically on nutrient absorption and metabolism. In order to achieve this various approaches are used from cell based models to in vivo animal models and human studies.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly more widespread condition and is related to being exposed to an obesogenic environment. Interestingly, a fatty liver is also often a feature of severe malnutrition. As the liver is a central organ in regulation nutrient metabolism, NAFLD is associated with significant disturbances in metabolic regulation. In addition, severe NAFLD can ultimately lead to liver cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease underscoring the clinical impact. Although, progress has been made in our understanding of the mechanisms involved, there is still a lack of insight into the pathways involved in the progression  from a fatty liver to severe non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Furthermore, treatment options are limited.

Dr. Bandsma’s research aims at improving our understanding of development of NAFLD and NASH. Approaches range from in vivo animal models to human studies.

External Funding

Thrasher Research Fund Operating Grant
Towards improved survival of severely malnourished children: developing improved therapeutic feeds

2013 NASPGHAN Foundation Nestlé Nutrition Research Young Investigator Development Award
Unraveling metabolic dysadaptation in malnutrition: from cellular mechanisms to improved child survival.


For a completed list of publications, please see PubMed

Bandsma RH, Bozic MA, Fridell JA, Crull MH, Molleston J, Avitzur Y, Mozer-Glassberg Y, Gonzalez-Peralta RP, Hodik M, Fecteau A, de Angelis M, Durie P, Ng VL. Simultaneous liver-pancreas transplantation for cystic fibrosis-related liver disease: A multicenter experience. J Cyst Fibros 2014:13(4):471-7.

Bandsma RH, Sokollik C, Chami R, Cutz E, Brubaker PL, Hamilton JK, Perlman K, Zlotkin S, Sigalet DL, Sherman PM, Martin MG, Avitzur Y. From Diarrhea to Obesity in Prohormone Convertase 1/3 Deficiency: Age-dependent Clinical, Pathologic, and Enteroendocrine Characteristics. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2013 47:834-43.

Martín MG, Lindberg I, Solorzano-Vargas RS, Wang J, Avitzur Y, Bandsma R, Sokollik C, Lawrence S, Pickett LA, Chen Z, Egritas O, Dalgic B, Albornoz V, de Ridder L, Hulst J, Gok F, Aydoğan A, Al-Hussaini A, Gok DE, Yourshaw M, Wu SV, Cortina G, Stanford S, Georgia S. Congenital proprotein convertase 1/3 deficiency causes malabsorptive diarrhea and other endocrinopathies in a pediatric cohort. Gastroenterology 2013 145(1):138-48.

Sokollik C, Bandsma RH, Gana JC, van den Heuvel M, Ling SC. Congenital Portosystemic Shunt: Characterization of A Multi-System Disease. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 56:675-81.

Nagasaka H, Yorifuji  T, Bandsma RH, Takatani  T, Asano H, Mochizuki H, Takuwa M, Tsukahara H, Inui A, Tsunoda T, Hirano K, Miida T, Taguchi T, Miwa I. Sustained high plasma mannose less sensitive to fluctuating blood glucose in glycogen storage disease type Ia children. J. Inher Met Dis. 2013 36:75-81.

Spoelstra MN, Mari A, Mendel M, Senga E, van Rheenen P, van Dijk TH, Reijngoud DJ, Zegers RG, Heikens GT, Bandsma RH.  Kwashiorkor and marasmus are both associated with impaired glucose clearance related to pancreatic β-cell dysfunction. Metabolism. 2012 61:1224-30.

Moran CJ, Walters TD, Guo CH, Kugathasan S, Klein C, Turner D, Wolters VM, Bandsma RH, Mouzaki M, Zachos M; NEOPICS, Langer JC, Cutz E, Benseler SM, Roifman CM, Silverberg MS, Griffiths AM, Snapper SB, Muise AM. IL-10R polymorphisms are associated with very-early-onset ulcerative colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2012 19:115-123.

Xiao C, Bandsma RH, Dash S, Szeto L, Lewis GF. Exenatide, a Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist, Acutely Inhibits Intestinal Lipoprotein Production in Healthy Humans. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012;32:1513-9.

van den Heuvel M, Blencowe H, Mittermayer K, Rylance S, Couperus A, Heikens GT, Bandsma RH. Introduction of bubble CPAP in a teaching hospital in Malawi. Ann Trop Paediatr. 2011;31:59-65.

Song D*, Bandsma RH*, Xiao C, Xi L, Lewis GF. Acute CB1 Receptor Modulation Influences Insulin Sensitivity by an Extra-CNS Effect. Diabetologia 2011;54:1181-1189. * contributed equally to this study.

Xi L, Xiao C, Bandsma RH, Naples M, Adeli K, Lewis GF. C-reactive protein impairs hepatic insulin sensitivity and insulin signaling in rats: role of mitogen-activated protein kinases. Hepatology 2011;53:127-135.

Sherlock M, Bandsma RH, Ota K, Kirby-Allen M, Griffiths A. Severe neutropenia following infliximab treatment in a child with ulcerative colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2011;17:E17-18.

Bandsma RH, Spoelstra M, Mari A, Mendel M, van Rheenen PF, Senga E, van Dijk T, Heikens GT. Impaired glucose absorption in children with severe malnutrition J Ped. 2010;158:282-287.

Bandsma RH, Lewis GF. Newly appreciated therapeutic effect of GLP-1 receptor agonists: Reduction in postprandial lipemia. Atherosclerosis. 2010;34:246-349.

Bandsma RH, Mendel M, Spoelstra M, Reijngoud DJ, Boer T, Stellaard F, Brabin B, Schellekens R, Senga E, Heikens GT. Mechanisms behind decreased endogenous glucose production in malnourished children. Pediatr Res. 2010;68:423-428.