A Message from the Chair

Deborah O'Connor, PhD, RD
Chair and Earle W. McHenry Professor
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Photo of Department of Nutritional Sciences Chair, Deborah O'Connor

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Department of Nutritional Sciences. As I write this Chair’s message, we are commencing the 2022-2023 academic year and are excited to be getting back to a more “normal” way of life following more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions and disruptions. We are pleased to be able to resume in-person research, particularly in our new centre for human nutrition studies (the “Nutrition Intervention Centre”), which opened just before the pandemic began, and in our wet labs in the Medical Sciences Building. Additionally, almost all of our 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate courses are now being offered in a hybrid format, with both in person and online attendance options, including our weekly graduate student seminars. We are continuing to explore new ways in which our faculty, staff and students can safely engage in person, and we look forward to welcoming more and more of our departmental community back to campus in the coming months.

We are also excited to be holding the inaugural Department of Nutritional Sciences Research Day this fall. This full-day event will showcase trainee research and feature invited speakers, including our annual Edna Park Lecture. We hope that many of you will join us on Thursday, October 20 at the Chestnut Conference Centre (or online). Please visit the event page for more details and to register.

During the pandemic, we successfully completed a new Strategic Plan 2021-2026 for the Department of Nutritional Sciences. I would personally like to thank all those who served as members on the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, members on one of four working groups, participated in one-on-one interviews and all faculty, external reviewers, staff, and students who provided feedback to drafts of the plan. This plan represents continuity with our department’s rich history of success and impact and is a commitment to, over the next five years, improving nutritional health across the life-cycle and striving for equity—locally and globally—through collaborative research, contributions to policy and practice, and teaching that covers the spectrum from –omics to population health. To focus our efforts, we have established “initial priorities” and have introduced a new leadership model within the Department. The Department also underwent an external review in 2021-2022, the findings and recommendations of which will help guide the implementation of our new Strategic Plan and the priorities within it.

Finally, I would like to thank all the members of the Department who have gone above and beyond in carrying out our research mission and providing high quality education to our students, especially during such challenging and unpredictable times. I am also grateful to our incredible students, whose hard work, resilience and contributions to the Department have been invaluable in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as a team.