Dr. Bohdan Luhovyy, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Human Nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University, has been named the 2021 winner of the university’s Research Excellence Award. He was recognized during MSVU’s virtual spring convocation celebration held Friday, May 28, 2021. The annual award recognizes contribution to the research community and to the research climate at MSVU. The award also serves to showcase the high level of scholarly research at the university.
Dr. Luhovyy has more than 20 years of experience in food, nutrition, and physiology research. Since joining MSVU, his work has had two overarching themes: first, to lead the development of new functional foods, which are foods that rate highly on sensory measures such as look and taste and have high nutritional value, and second, to examine the effects of foods on blood glucose, appetite control, and energy intake.
Dr. Luhovyy’s Appetite Lab, located in the Centre for Applied Research at MSVU, is unique in Nova Scotia, as it combines food product development, nutritional research focused on prevention of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, and knowledge translation to the food industry and local communities. There is no other facility in Nova Scotia that combines both food product development and the capacity to explore the health benefits of foods through clinical trials.
In his food development research, Dr. Luhovyy has worked with food industry partners to develop new products that are both appealing and healthy. Current and past projects include studies involving locally produced blueberries, seaweeds, quail eggs and quail meat, stocks, soups and broths, bakery products, gluten-free products, dairy products, apples, snacks, vegetables and vegetable pureed products, foods for vending machines, and recipes for school breakfast programs that meet national and provincial dietary guidelines.
This work has helped the Nova Scotian agri-food, marine and fishery industries develop new food products, including some unique products manufactured in the region, and reformulate existing products, from food formulation to nutritional evaluation.
One particularly innovative project identified that the particle size resulting from preparation of flours from pulses (e.g. chickpeas, beans, and lentils) affects the rate at which the carbohydrates in these flours are digested. This finding will inform the development of foods that may help control blood glucose and has implications for understanding and treating health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. This also illustrates how food development and health are intrinsically linked – a key feature of Dr. Luhovyy’s work.
Over the past nine years, Dr. Luhovyy has secured more than $1.3 million in external funding for his research program. His research has been supported through a number of Tri-Council grants, such as the NSERC Discovery program, NSERC Collaborative Research and Development grants, and NSERC Engage Grants. Additionally, Dr. Luhovyy has co-authored 46 peer-reviewed published articles and book chapters and made 55 conference presentations.
Support for Dr. Luhovyy’s food development research has come from the Nova Scotia Productivity and Innovation Voucher program, National Research Council Industry Research Assistance Program, and Food Innovator cluster program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Recently, Dr. Luhovyy’s program “Breakfast & Beyond” received support from the Medavie Health Foundation to develop healthy school breakfasts that meet provincial requirements and new front-of-package labeling proposed by Heath Canada for risk ingredients, such as sugar, sodium, and fat. Of note, Dr. Luhovyy also regularly involves students in his work in the community, including 40 Applied Human Nutrition students a year who support healthy school breakfast programs as part of his work with the Breakfast Program Association of Fairview.
A respected research mentor, Dr. Luhovyy’s colleagues note his commitment to “mentorship and dedication to his students.” As one of his nominator’s said, Dr. Luhovyy involves trainees in all aspects of the research process, including publishing. Dr. Luhovyy’s lab provides a unique and exceptionally high-quality training environment for students and research staff, featuring a variety of research methodologies, from sensory evaluation to biochemical analysis, as well as entrepreneurial skill development opportunity. He also provides learning opportunities for future dieticians. To date, Dr. Luovyy has trained or supervised more than 30 student researchers at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels, including many summer students through the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award program.
In 2017, he was named the inaugural recipient of The President and Vice-Presidents’ Advanced Career Teaching Award.
Congratulations on this latest well-deserved recognition, Dr. Luhovyy!