David W.L. Ma, Ph.D.

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About David


Dr. 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 University of Guelph Research Leadership Chair.

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, his research is 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.


Jul 2017 – Present, University of Guelph Research Leadership Chair

Jul 2017 – Present, Professor
Jul 2010 – Jun 2017, Associate Professor (with Tenure)
Sep 2007 – June 2010, Assistant Professor
Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, College of Biological Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

May 2018 – May 2019, Past President
Feb 2017 – May 2018, President
Jun 2013 – 2017, Vice President-Research and President-Elect
Canadian Nutrition Society

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

Sep 2007 – Present, Professor – Status only
Jul 2004 – Aug 2007, Assistant Professor
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

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

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


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
Canadian Liver Society

My research program has received operating grants from:
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 Canada

My research program has received major infrastructure grants for:
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.