Kelsey Cochrane, PhD, RD
University of British Columbia

Dr. Kelsey Cochrane is an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. During her PhD at the University of British Columbia (2018-2023, under the supervision of Dr. Crystal Karakochuk), Kelsey was funded by a CIHR Doctoral Award. During this time, she undertook unique opportunities to gain novel experience, network, and expand the scientific reach of her project internationally.  Kelsey’s full publication record includes 12 peer-reviewed manuscripts published or in press and an additional manusript currently under review. Of these, 10 are first-authored publications that are directly related to her PhD dissertation research. 

Dr. Cochrane’s research involved a clinical trial of folic acid vs 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) supplementation during pregnancy. She led all aspects of this clinical trial, including obtaining study approvals, recruitment, conducting study visits, collection and processing of biological specimens, data analyses and knowledge translation activities. Results showed marked differences in the concentrations of unmetabolized folic acid in 5-MTHF vs folic acid groups, particularly in human milk specimens. The Scientific Reports publication reports a 14-fold increase in human milk unmetabolized folic acid following folic acid supplementation. Dr. Cochrane concluded that while the downstream effects of elevated unmetabolized folic acid are unclear, current practices of folic acid supplementation may be shifting the “normal” human milk folate profile. The Br J Nutr publication was the first published report to show the effect of 5-MTHF supplementation during pregnancy on blood folate status. Kelsey found no significant differences between groups, and that folate status remained above the cut-off associated with maximal risk reduction of neural tube defects in all participants. While this provides some reassurance that the common practice of supplementation with 5-MTHF is indeed acceptable, findings must be confirmed in a definitive trial (forthcoming, 2024 CIHR Project Grant). Dr.Cochrane's research has already had significance and broad reach, and has generated noteworthy scientific attention in our field.