May Faraj

Medical Review Panel

Full Professor, Department of Nutrition and Program of Molecular Biology (cross-appointment), Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal

Invited scientist, Director, Research Unit on Nutrition, Lipoproteins, and Cardiometabolic Disease, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), Montréal, QC, Canada

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Dr Faraj obtained two BSc in Biology and in Human Nutrition at the American University of Beirut, her MSc in Nutrition and PhD in Experimental Medicine from McGill University and her post-doctoral training in Nutrition from Université de Montréal. The research activity of her lab was launched at IRCM in 2008, founded on the novel hypothesis that elevated plasma numbers of atherogenic apoB-lipoproteins (i.e. hyperapoB) is a cause and not only a consequence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in humans. Using bench-to-bedside approach combined with clinical trials, her team demonstrated the link between native LDL and risk factors for T2D, namely anomalies in white adipose tissue function, insulin secretion and sensitivity, glucose and fat metabolism and innate immunity pathways. They also showed how targeting subjects with hyperapoB may maximize the benefit of nutritional interventions aimed at reducing the risk for T2D.

More recently, her lab’s focus evolved to explore paradox finding of increased risk for  T2D with reduced plasma LDL cholesterol, as reported in clinical trials (with statins) and Mendelian Randomization studies with LDL lowering variants. Through an ongoing clinical trial combined with basic studies, her team is testing the hypotheses that upregulated receptor-mediated uptake of LDL in while adipose tissue (through LDLR and CD36) provokes metabolic anomalies leading to T2D, and that this can be offset by omega-3 fatty acids supplementations.

Combined, to date, her lab sheds light on why the risk for T2D and cardiovascular disease can converge or diverge in humans, having adipose tissue uptake of LDL as a culprit and omega-3 as a therapy.