Dr. Kelly A. Meckling

Phone number: 
ext. 53742 (Office), ext. 53728 (Lab)
ANNU 333
ANNU 327

My interest in mammalian biology began as a summer research student in the laboratory of Dr. Bob Church at the University of Calgary studying the control of early embryonic and transgenic development in murine and bovine systems in 1983. Later, I completed my 4th year Biochemistry thesis with Dr. Ken Stevenson developing new HPLC techniques for separating modified peptides.

I then moved to UBC’s department of Microbiology to work with virologist and cancer researcher, Dr. Tony Pawson on regulation of oncogene function. The following year, Tony moved the lab to the new Mt. Sinai Hospital Research Institute (now called Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute) where I completed my PhD in the department of Medical Biophysics at U of T.

Having developed a keen interest in applying the developments in molecular biology and cell signalling to potential improvements in cancer therapy, I then took up a Post-doctoral Fellowship with now retired CRC Tier 1 scholar, Carol Cass, at the University of Alberta. There I began to realize that nutritional, environmental and hormonal cues could be used to differentially alter metabolism in normal and tumor cells. After arriving in Guelph in 1991, I expanded this interest to show that fatty acids from fish oil and a number of phytochemicals and hormone active nutrients could alter both chemosensitivity of tumor cells to therapeutic agents, as well as modulate cell fate, particularly in blood cell development.

My major focus is on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control cell metabolism and to use this information to improve human health. Thus my work spans biology from individual signalling events within cells to whole animal human responses to dietary and lifestyle interventions in the clinical setting

B.Sc. - University of Calgary
Ph.D. - University of Toronto

I am interested in the role of nutrition and diet in normal animal development and the processes that go awry in the development of chronic disease.  I am specifically interested in the molecular mechanisms by which nutrients, phytochemicals and other components of food modulate cellular metabolism to affect cellular differentiation, cell proliferation and cell death. My core research program, supported by NSERC, is examining the signalling pathways involved in cellular responses to the hormone-active nutrient, calcitriol (1, 25 dihdyroxyvitamin D3).  We are identifying signalling partners for a novel membrane vitamin D receptor (MARRS) and how these pathways interact with those of omega-3 fatty acids in normal blood and breast tissue development. These studies also have implications for the prevention and treatment of breast and blood cell cancers, since many of these pathways are dysfunctional or altered during the process of carcinogenesis. 

In a secondary area of study, we are examining bioactive polyphenols (flavonoids, anthocyanins) found in highly coloured fruits and vegetables for activity as preventive or treatment agents for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.  Many of the polyphenols we have studied (from red wine and osage orange) have potent antitumour activity and seem to spare normal tissues.  We are examining the mechanisms by which these polyphenols achieve their selectivity and identifying their molecular targets. 

My long-term goal is to understand the biological roles of nutrients at a molecular level and to use this information to improve the health and well-being of the general population. Studies in my laboratory involve questions of both a basic and applied nature. We use a combination of cell culture, animal experiment and human clinical trials to examine the specific activity of nutrients alone or in combination with other agents.

Current Projects Include

  1. Delineating the signalling pathways and members of signalling complexes involved in the non-traditional actions of vitamin D in differentiation and fate determination in blood cells and breast epithelial cells. 
  2. Determining the role of the Membrane Activated Rapid Response to Steroids (MARRS) receptor in the biological actions of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3, estradiol, omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols in normal and cancerous breast epithelial cells, using knockoutand knockdown in cells in culture and transgenic mice.
  3. Vitamin D status in canine cancer patients and the relationship with dietary Vitamin D intake
  4. Examining the ability of highly coloured vegetables to reduce the progression and risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease using experimental animals and human clinical intervention trials.


The role of the ERp57 protein (1,25D3-MARRS receptor) in murine mammary gland growth and development.

Wilkin AM, Harnett A, Underschultz M, Cragg C, Meckling KA.​ Steroids. 2018 Feb 23. pii: S0039-128X(18)30034-5. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2018.02.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Ayoub HM, McDonald MR, Sullivan JA, Tsao R, Platt M, Simpson J, Meckling KA.​ J Med Food. 2017 Dec;20(12):1240-1249. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.0025. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

Influence of Various Factors on Circulating 25(OH) Vitamin D Concentrations in Dogs with Cancer and Healthy Dogs.

Weidner N, Woods JP, Conlon P, Meckling KA, Atkinson JL, Bayle J, Makowski AJ, Horst RL, Verbrugghe A.

J Vet Intern Med. 2017 Nov;31(6):1796-1803. doi: 10.1111/jvim.14834. Epub 2017 Sep 23.

Effect of a calorie-restricted, low-glycemic diet and exercise with omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D supplementation on the risk of metabolic syndrome. Robert B Thomas Robert B, Curtis Amy, Snook Laelie A, and Kelly A Meckling. Integr Food Nutr Metab, 2017  doi: 10.15761/IFNM.1000193 Vol 4(5): 1-7

A randomized, controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of an online intervention targeting vitamin D intake, knowledge and status among young adults.

Goodman S, Morrongiello B, Meckling K.​ Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2016 Nov 11;13(1):11.

Goodman S, Morrongiello B, Randall Simpson J, Meckling K.​ J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015 May-Jun;47(3):242-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2014.11.00.

Bioefficacy of tea catechins encapsulated in casein micelles tested on a normal mouse cell line (4D/WT) and its cancerous counterpart (D/v-src) before and after in vitro digestion.

Haratifar S, Meckling KA, Corredig M.​ Food Funct. 2014 Jun;5(6):1160-6. doi: 10.1039/c3fo60343a. Epub 2014 Mar 31.

Haratifar S, Meckling KA, Corredig M.​ J Dairy Sci. 2014 Feb;97(2):672-8. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-7263. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Wang S, Meckling KA, Marcone MF, Kakuda Y, Proulx A, Tsao R.​ J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Dec;92(15):2983-93. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.5711. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

Campbell DD, Meckling KA.​ Br J Nutr. 2012 Nov 14;108(9):1658-71. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511007215. Epub 2012 Jan 16.

Yang R, Hanwell H, Zhang J, Tsao R, Meckling KA.​ J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Dec 28;59(24):13328-36. doi: 10.1021/jf202898g. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

Dyck MC, Ma DW, Meckling KA.​ Med Hypotheses. 2011 Sep;77(3):326-32. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.05.006. Epub 2011 May 31. Review.

Wang S, Meckling KA, Marcone MF, Kakuda Y, Tsao R.​ J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Feb 9;59(3):960-8. doi: 10.1021/jf1040977. Epub 2011 Jan 11.




NUTR*4320: Nutrition and the Metabolic Control of Disease

NUTR*3210 Fundamentals of Nutrition

Name Role
H. Ayoub PhD Student
A. Wilkin PhD Student


Please note that Dr. Meckling is NOT recruiting any new graduate students, undergraduate students or other research personnel at this time.