Mahsa Jessri

New faculty profile: Mahsa Jessri

Mahsa Jessri is a new Assistant Professor in the Food, Nutrition and Health Program where she leads the Nutritional Epidemiology for Population Health research group. She works at the unique intersection of nutritional sciences, and population and public health.

Her goal is to help shape nutritional guidelines and policy decisions aimed at reducing the burden of chronic diseases by using evidence-based research and decision tools.

“One example of my decision tools is an individualized cardiovascular care algorithm we are currently working on, which draws on the data from thousands of Canadians previously treated to segregate those with the most to gain from changing dietary behaviours,” she said. “This tool would help dietitians and policy makers prioritize dietary interventions, similar to what has been done for decades in the medical field.”

Jessri brings to UBC expertise in nutritional and chronic disease epidemiology, dietary pattern modelling and health, dietary assessment, public and population health, machine learning, and preventive nutrition and dietetics.

“While policy makers recognize the importance of healthy diets in preventing chronic diseases, preventive efforts have had relatively little impact in terms of reduction in diet-related health outcomes,” she said. “What motivates me is trying to address some of these challenges, by providing policy makers with tools to better allocate and invest resources so they can benefit individual Canadians. My research draws from demographic, clinical, and behavioural data sources to inform decision-making related to improved health.”

Given the Faculty of Land and Food Systems’ incorporation of a wide range of disciplines and expertise, she plans to collaborate with other faculty members to develop approaches for tackling disparities in diet-related chronic diseases to ensure our food system is effective, yet equitable and sustainable.

Previously, Jessri worked at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, where she was a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Banting Fellow in the Clinical Epidemiology Program; at the University of Ottawa’s School of Epidemiology and Public Health; and at Statistics Canada in the Health Analysis Division. She received a Royal Society of Canada Award and Medal (2018) for her research leadership.