Dr. Sarah Kimmins received her Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in 2003 and completed her post-doctoral training at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire in Strasbourg, France. She was appointed to the Department of Animal Science in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in September of 2005 and is a tenured Associate Professor. She is an associate member of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine at McGill.
Globally the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases such as cancer, and cardiovascular disease are on the rise. These increases have occurred at rates that cannot be due to changes in the genetic structure of the population and are likely caused by environmental factors that modify gene function via epigenetics. Kimmins leads a research program focused on determining how the environment (nutrients and toxicants) impacts the health of parents and offspring. Her research involves long-term multi-generational studies to identify the mechanisms implicated in epigenetic inheritance. In 2013, her research group linked a father’s diet to development of the embryo. This research highlights the possibility that the father’s pre-conception health may be equally as important as the mother in terms of having healthy babies. This ongoing line of research has the potential to impact child health worldwide in terms of prevention of birth defects and chronic disease. This line of research is being translated into human studies with long-term studies to follow parents and their offspring in relation to environmental components.