Dr. James B. Kirkland (Retired)

Associate Professor, Retired
Phone number: 
ext. 56693
ANNU 335
ANNU 325

I did my PhD work here at the University of Guelph with Dr. Tammy Bray, who inspired me in the vast interface of nutrition and toxicology. My project involved a rumen tryptophan metabolite that was bioactivated by cytochrome P 450 enzymes in the lung, leading to a fatal respiratory disease. My interests in toxicology evolved through my postdoctoral experiences at the University of British Columbia and Universite Laval, eventually focusing on DNA damage and poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism. The mentorship of Dr. Guy Poirier at Laval was a major factor in my development, and he has been very supportive over the years in ongoing collaborations. 

B.Sc. - University of Guelph
Ph.D. - University of Guelph

Niacin is a B vitamin that is involved in energy metabolism, but it also plays key roles in DNA repair and in signal transduction. Poly(ADP-ribose) is synthesized on proteins in response to DNA damage, using nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as substrate. Poly(ADP-ribose) synthesis is important in DNA repair and we are testing the effect of niacin deficiency on poly(ADP-ribose) synthesis, DNA repair rates, apoptosis and the progression of leukemia in response to carcinogen exposure. NAD and nicotinic acid are also used to make cyclic ADP-ribose and NAADP, two molecules that control the release of calcium from intracellular stores. Calcium release controls many aspects of cell signaling in neurons and astrocytes, and we have investigated the impact of niacin status in several models of animal learning and behavior. 

Our ongoing research is focused on two approaches. One is the use of cultured cancer cells to investigate the impact of niacin status on the efficacy of drug-induced apoptosis as a model of treatment efficacy.  Through collaboration with the Animal Cancer Center in OVC, we are also examining the niacin status of dogs when they first present with cancer and following treatment, compared to healthy controls.  This may lead to a randomized clinical trial of niacin in canine cancer patients.

I have also worked on integrating and disseminating current knowledge of niacin nutrition and metabolism through the preparation of book chapters for the texts, Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, Handbook of Vitamins and Present Knowledge in Nutrition.

Kirkland JB. (2014). Niacin. In: Handbook of Vitamins. Zempleni J, Suttie JW, Gregory III JF, Stover PJ (eds), 5th edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 149-190. 

Kirkland JB. (2014). Niacin. In: Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR (eds), 11th edition. Wolters Kluer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, PA, pp. 331-340. 

Lougheed JA, Kirkland JB, Newton GS. Using Breakout Groups as an Active Learning Technique in a Large Undergraduate Nutrition Classroom at the University of Guelph. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 2012; Volume 3, Issue 2, Article 6.

Prousky J, Millman CG, Kirkland JB. Pharmacological Use of Niacin. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2011; 16:91-101.

Kirkland JB. Niacin requirements for genomic stability. Mutat.Res. 2011; 733:14-20.

Kirkland JB. Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase-1 and Health.  Exp Biol Med. 2010; 235(5):561-8.

Kirkland JB. Niacin status, NAD distribution and ADP-Ribose Metabolism.  Curr Pharm Des. 2009; 15(1):3-11.

Kirkland JB. Niacin status and treatment-related leukemogenesis. Mol Cancer Ther. 2009; 8(4):725-32.

  • BIOL*1080 Biological Concepts of Health
  • NUTR*3210 Fundamentals of Nutrition
  • NUTR*4510 Toxicology, Nutrition and Food