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Research and Innovation


Ryerson researchers to lead new food and nutrition centre

Centre will feature cutting edge tools putting Toronto on the leading edge of food nutrition science


Professors Derick Rousseau (Chemistry) and Nick Bellissimo (Nutrition) are leading a project to bring cutting edge food nutrition research tools to Ryerson

Ryerson professors Dérick Rousseau (Chemistry) and Nick Bellissimo (Nutrition) recently received $1.89 million in infrastructure funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund to purchase equipment for a new research centre dedicated to improving the satiety of foods in order to counter Canada’s growing obesity epidemic.

“These funds help elevate our research by joining our expertise in food science and our expertise in nutrition to contribute to the development of processed foods with health promoting properties,” said professor Rousseau, one of the lead researchers on the project. “This will galvanize Toronto’s spot on the food science map.”

The Centre for Food Innovation and Nutrition Discovery will serve as a hub for nutrition research, with cutting edge tools, bringing together experts across disciplines and institutions to generate solutions for nutrition-related health issues while creating economic growth in Canada’s agri-food sector.

According to professor Bellissimo, the funding helps the team secure some of the best instruments in food structuring and food research. “They are world-caliber tools,” said professor Bellissimo. “And having them all in one place will be a real game-changer for us.” One of the tools in question is a Dynamic Gastric Model, which allows the researchers to see how food is digested at different phases of the human digestive track by mimicking the process chemically. “This tool bridges fundamental food structuring research with experimental human nutrition studies, joining our strengths and enhancing our research capacity” said professor Bellissimo.

Collaborators from five institutions, including George Brown College, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will form the centre. The research will focus on improving popular foods for greater satiety while maintaining customer satisfaction, working with partners to create novel, industry-ready foods for Canada’s agri-food industry.

The newly funded project is one of 117 across the country receiving a portion of the $554 million in new infrastructure funds from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation announced October 12 by the federal Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan.

“Our government understands that scientists need to have the best labs and tools if they’re going to make discoveries that will pave the way to a brighter future for all people,” said minister Duncan in a press release. “That’s why today’s funding announcement is so important; it gives scientists and their students the opportunity to further their research in areas where Canada has a competitive advantage.”

Professor Steven N. Liss, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said this investment is a welcome addition to the Centre for Urban Innovation, already under construction on campus. “Collaboration across disciplines, as seen in this project, helps foster innovation,” he said. “Through these infrastructure funds, our researchers, students and industry partners gain access to leading edge tools in the field in order to create solutions for better health through better nutrition for all Canadians."

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Kathleen Powderley