David J. A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc
Department of Nutritional Sciences, and of Medicine
Dr. David J.A. Jenkins is an University Professor, and Canada Research Chair. He was educated at Oxford University, obtaining his DM, DPhil and DSc. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada. He has served on committees in Canada and the United States that formulated nutritional guidelines for the treatment of diabetes and recommendations for fiber and macronutrient intake under the joint US-Canada DRI system (RDAs) of the National Academy of Sciences. He also served as a member of Agriculture Canada’s Science Advisory Board (2004-2009) on the future direction of Canada’s agriculture and agricultural research. He has spent much time working with the food industry to develop products for the supermarket shelf and, for example, helped to initiate Loblaw’s ‘Too Good To Be True’ and most recently their popular “Blue Menu” line of products. His research area is the use of diet in the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and diabetes. He has over 300 original publications on these and related topics. His team was the first to define and explore the concept of the glycemic index of foods and demonstrate the breadth of metabolic effects of viscous soluble fiber, including blood glucose and cholesterol lowering. His group developed the cholesterol lowering concept of the dietary portfolio that has entered guidelines in many jurisdictions (e.g. CCS, Heart UK etc.). He believes in the therapeutic value of plant based diets and that diets have to be environmentally sustainable.
When I was an undergraduate at Merton College, Oxford as I began the third of my weekly 1 hour “tutorials” (one-on-one), my tutor, Dr. Denis Parsons, considered by many to be the best medical tutor in Oxford, asked how I was doing. I replied (in a self-satisfied fashion) “working really hard!”. He replied, “do you get time just to gaze out of your window?” (the view across the “meadow” to the river was indeed spectacular). Instantly, I replied, “I am far too busy for that”. His response was equally swift “then we will have to cut down on your classes and labs”. I was shocked that my hard work was so under appreciated. He then said “you will never have an original idea unless you allow yourself time to dream. You must learn the difference between laziness and idleness. The former is unwanted but the latter is essential”.
I’ve always tried to pass this message on to students (my colleagues think I am just soft on students without the all-important rigor & excellence and without assessing the necessary stress. “You have to toughen them up”, “life is tough”, etc). But if you don’t have a dream…..” etc as the south pacific song goes. So I continue, and have been blessed with students with incredibly good ideas!