Mélanie Plourde, Professor

Medicine/geriatric section
Université de Sherbrooke

In July 2010, Dr Plourde became Assistant professor in the Geriatric Section of the Department of Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science at the Université de Sherbrooke and she became Full professor in 2020. The goal of her research program is to prevent cognitive decline through a better understanding of the interactions between genetics and diet in the aging process and in the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids. She is attempting to generate fundamental data to establish a causal link between age-induced alterations of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism and the apolipoprotein E-epsilon4 genotype, the most important genetic factor in Alzheimer’s disease. She is also an expert in the use of uniformly labelled carbon 13 fatty acid to determine their kinetics in humans. Her expertise in fatty acid analysis was recognized by joining as a co-chair the international group expert on Fatty Acid Best Practice Analysis sponsored by the International Life Science Institute-North America. In 2016, she received the New Investigator award from CIHR-INMD and the Canadian Nutrition Society. She also received the first institutional Research Chair on lipid metabolism during aging donated by the Medical Research Center of Université de Sherbrooke, a New Investigator Salary award from CIHR. She was also awarded the ILSI North America Future Leader in Nutrition international prize in 2017. She was very proud to be awarded in 2020 by the Canadian Nutrition Society the Young Investigator Award for Outstanding Research in recognition of her expertise and leadership.

My oily story/ 2020 Young Investigator Award for Outstanding Research

I received my basic trainning in food science and technology in 2001. My research story with lipids and oils started during an undergraduate summer training where I was working on conjugated linoleic acids. I then started a MSc in testing different catalyser to perform low-trans fat oils by hydrogenation. I then realized that the chemical engineering aspect of my project was not really a passion and I had sent myself three conditions to move to PhD, otherwise, I would move to finding a job. I think that professors and colleagues around me realized before me that I had some talent at doing research and I was proposed a PhD project meeting my three requirements. I did my PhD in three years top chrono and at the end of my PhD I wasn't sure if I should do a postdoc or find a job. One day, I went to see a conference at INAF and asked a question at the speaker. He then invited me to visit his lab and I finally joined his teams to do a three year postdoc. He became my most important mentor and guided me through developping my leadership, my writing skills and my career as an independant researcher. My research story is to show that not all research paths are similar, straightforward and there are different paths to reach the same goal.