Mary-Ellen Harper, PhD

Dr. Mary-Ellen Harper is a Full Professor of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, Canada. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of Guelph, followed by a PhD at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Drs. John Patrick and Jean Himms-Hagen. Her thesis focused on mechanisms of facultative energy expenditure, including Na/K transport mechanisms and brown fat thermogenesis. Thereafter she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University in the U.K. where she trained under the supervision of Dr. Martin Brand, and studied the effects of thyroid hormone status on the uncoupling of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Current research interests are mitochondrial energetics, redox, proton leaks and the role of the uncoupling proteins; fundamental mechanistic aspects are studied, and the processes are also examined in the contexts of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and oxidative stress. In collaboration with Ottawa Hospital and Heart Institute clinicians Drs. Bob Dent and Ruth McPherson, research has focused on metabolic and genetic factors contributing in inter-individual variation in weight loss. She has published 92 peer-reviewed papers, as well as a number of invited reviews and book chapters.

Her research has been acknowledged by awards including several postdoctoral fellowship awards, a Polanyi Award (Physiology and Medicine), a Premier’s Research Excellence Award, an Endowed Summer Research Fellowship (Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole, MA), a Canadian Foundation for Innovation New Investigator’s Award, and the national Centrum Award for excellence in nutrition and metabolism research. Demand for her unique expertise is exemplified by many international invitations to collaborate and to lecture.

Dr. Harper has served on several national and international grant review panels. She also serves on various teaching and research committees at the University of Ottawa. In the Obesity Society, she has been an active member on several committees, and currently is a member of the Program and the Diversity committees. Dr. Harper has been a member of the Obesity Society since 1994.

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