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Researcher Profile: Dani Renouf

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Recently, there has been an explosion of interest among the health research community to uncover the puzzling relationship between the gut microbiome and peoples’ health – but few have yet explored this phenomenon in people living with kidney disease. Dani Renouf is a dietitian within the BC Renal provincial network who is delving deeper into these mysteries. 

The microbes living in our gut can influence many different factors of our health, including weight, immune system functioning, and digestion, among others. Renouf is helping launch a study in British Columbia that will explore the impact of supplements on the gut microbiomes of kidney patients who are malnourished.  

“We're also going to look at an extensive diet history and see if fibre and protein impact the gut microbiome as well,” says Renouf. “These are all things that really haven't been done in our population to this degree before.”

Renouf’s work stems from her desire to help people combined with her passion for food. She says growing up in a “very food centric-home” shaped her at a young age, and recalls getting her first cookbook at the age of 10 or 11. 

When she decided to pursue a career as a dietitian, she saw a great opportunity to help kidney patients. “In kidney disease, nutrition can be a matter of doing well or not doing well,” explains Renouf. “And so I knew I could make a real difference in supporting this group of people living with kidney disease.”

Her job description doesn’t just involve studies like the microbiome one, but a whole swath of dietary-related initiatives within the BC Renal network. These include treating patients in clinic, creating educational materials, chairing the BC Renal provincial dietitians practice group, developing dietary guidelines, and even contributing to a cooking show hosted in partnership with the Kidney Foundation of Canada. 

Renouf says she loves the diversity of her work, which has evolved quite a bit since she first became chair of the BC Renal provincial dietitians practice group. “Over the years my job morphed into what it is, I think based on who I am and things that I like doing, but also the needs of our population,” she says. 

In terms of her work on the upcoming microbiome research project, she is excited to be leading kidney research into new territory. “Nutrition research is really in its infancy right now, and there's so much we need to unearth,” she says, noting that this work could potentially pave the way for future research projects and additional careers in kidney nutrition.




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