Strategic partnerships between universities and industry can often lead to breakthrough research. Earlier this year, our Faculty established the Western Nutrition Research Centre (WNRC) to provide a range of contract research services for the functional food and natural health product industries.
“It’s a relatively new model in terms of offering a service menu and creating collaborations between industry and scientists,” said Sarah Harvey, Manager of the WNRC. “The combination of our personnel, facilities and equipment is unique in BC. The goal is to enhance access to the Faculty’s expertise and capacity through our service delivery model.”
WNRC’s facilities, which are used primarily for teaching and research purposes, include a clinical research unit, sensory evaluation lab, test kitchen, and wet lab containing state-of-the-art analytical instruments.
“We customize our services to meet our client’s needs,” said Harvey, adding that a principal investigator will work closely with a client to personally oversee a project. “Our researchers can offer advice on formulation or the design of a new product or conduct clinical studies to help support a health claim.”
Clinical studies can give companies a competitive advantage by producing scientific evidence on the effectiveness and health benefits of their product. Currently, the WNRC is running clinical trials on two natural health products, both led by Dr. Tim Green. Other services offered include sensory evaluation, glycemic index testing, bioefficacy trials, analytics and regulatory affairs.
Harvey joined the WNRC in March, 2015 and acts as a liaison between industry and our researchers. As a graduate of our Human Nutrition program (MSc, 2011), she gained experience in the field working on clinical trials in folate supplementation in New Zealand and Malaysia. After graduation, Harvey worked as a clinical dietitian at BC Children’s Hospital in the Biochemical Diseases Department, and then in Health Canada’s prenatal nutrition program in the Northwest Territories.