Stories - Your Impact - Research

An Interview with Dr. Jon

Tackling Type 2

Connecting health knowledge to better outcomes

Diabetes costs Canada’s health care system and economy billions of dollars every year. In fact, type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic illness in Canada. The situation is especially challenging in Manitoba where the rate of type 2 diabetes in childhood is 12 times higher than any other province. Solving the type 2 diabetes challenge is essential. Fortunately, we have Dr. Jon McGavock and his team on our side. And fortunately, we have donors like you who make their work possible.

“Donor dollars are vital for what we do here.”


Q: Explain the research you do here at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba?

A: My laboratory is interested in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes in youth. We have three specific areas that interest us within the field of diabetes of children. The first area we focus on is the importance of high-intensity exercise for improving health outcomes in children living with diabetes, or who are at risk of getting diabetes. The second is focused on the role of fat in the development of type 2 diabetes and its complications. The third is focused on developing novel school-based approaches for preventing diabetes, particularly, the role of older peers as role models of healthy living behaviours. These three pillars take our team from the MRI units and diabetes clinics in the Children’s Hospital to schools in isolated First Nations communities in northern Manitoba.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue this research?

A: There are several very exciting aspects of research that bring us into work every day. The first and most exciting for me personally is working closely with children and families to support them towards adopting a healthy lifestyle. The work I do at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba involves dozens of students, research assistants, and colleagues from the hospital. Working within this team, helping students achieve their career goals, and supporting colleagues are also very motivating aspects of my job. Finally, I really like discovering new things. Every day we learn more about child health and make discoveries that we hope will lead to better health outcomes in the future.

Q: How have donor dollars made a difference in your work?

A: Donor dollars are vital for what we do here. First and foremost, the dollars allow me to recruit students and staff to help with conducting the research studies. Without this funding we would not be able to train students, recruit families, and perform the research. Additionally, the funding provided by Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (through the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba) has enabled us to collect preliminary data and leverage that funding for larger national grants. Thus far, our lab has been able to leverage donor dollars approximately 7 to 1. Finally, we are able to use funding to create a clinical research program that complements the clinical work done in the hospital. For example, we can pay for assessments that are too expensive or time-consuming to do during a regular visit with a physician. These studies lead to better information, more time with children and, in the end, better care.

Q: A generation from now, what difference do you hope your research will make?

A: We hope to transform the way youth living with type 2 diabetes are currently treated. We hope that the enhanced treatment will improve adherence to medications, increased overall health, and, in the end, reduced rates of complications. At the school level, we hope that our work will lead to policy changes in the way that teachers deliver curriculum to promote healthy living and prevention of obesity and diabetes in youth –particularly the most vulnerable youth living in rural northern First Nations communities.

Modified in February 2017.

Thanks to donors like you, Dr. Jon McGavock and his team are making important progress in the battle against type 2 diabetes. To support research at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba through the Children’s Hospital Foundation, please click here.