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Ming Fan


Position/Title: Professor
email: mfan@uoguelph.ca
Phone: (519) 824-4120 ext. 53656
Office: ANNU 234

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Ming Fan became interested in nature, life science and medicine as a child. After obtaining his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, he did post-doc research at the University of Alberta, Purdue University and Baylor College of Medicine before joining the University of Guelph faculty in 1998. When not at the University of Guelph, he enjoys gardening and landscape design.

Academic History

  • B.Sc. Animal Science, Xinjiang Agricultural University (1985)
  • M.Sc. Animal Nutrition, Northeastern Agricultural University (1988)
  • Ph.D. Animal Nutrition, University of Alberta (1994)

Affiliations and Partnerships

  • Canadian and American Societies of Animal Science
  • Canadian Nutrition Society
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Gastroenterological Association

Awards and Honours

  • USDA/ARS Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (1997)
  • Pfizer Young Scientist Award by Canadian Society of Animal Science (2001)

Research Impact

Ming’s core expertise is in the area of gastrointestinal physiology, nutrition and metabolism in pigs. His research focuses on understanding how nutrients affect physiological functions, wellbeing and health. He is also looking at how nutrients are connected to the issues of environmental sustainability as related to intensive animal production.

Ming has produced 116 papers published in peer-reviewed journals, nine books and book chapters, 170 abstracts in peer-reviewed journals through conference presentations, 59 conference and workshop presentations, and 88 extension publications.

His most significant contributions to research and practical applications include the following:

  • Pioneered the development of novel methods for determining how amino acids and minerals were truly digested and absorbed in the pig’s intestines from different types of feeds. This contributed to formulation of commercial compound feeds for pigs based on how digestible the ingredients are, and reduced feeding costs and the problem of excessive nutrient excretion in the manure.
  • Contributed to the development of the enviropig™ as part of a team led by Dr. Cecil W. Forsberg. This demonstrated that biotechnology could resolve critical issues of sustainability in animal production on a global scale.
  • Identified specific amino acids and sugar transporters in the intestines of young pigs that support digestion and growth. This has clarified the roles of these molecules in animals but also has applications for humans with conditions such as low-birth-weight infants with compromised intestinal function; and chronic bowel inflammation.
  • Shown that increasing luminal alkaline phosphatase function in early-weaned young pigs is an effective alternative to using feed antibiotics to improve health and prevent mortality. This is important as concerns about antibiotic-resistance increase.
  • Developed a novel method for measuring organ and tissue protein synthesis, to help understand factors affecting gene expression at the post-transcriptional level in growth and metabolism.
  • Demonstrated how the soluble fibre guar gum in the diet promotes gut health and reduces “bad” cholesterol in pigs fed a high-fat diet, and showed that crystalline cellulose is not effective because it is readily degraded in in the pig’s small and large bowel. This is has led to the discovery of new cellulases from the pig’s gut microbiome with potential industrial applications.

Current Research Projects

Dr. Fan’s research seeks to answer questions about improving the efficiency of nutrient use for sustainable animal production, improving understanding of basic animal biology to improve animal and human nutrition and health, and discovering new enzymes and other bio-products with industrial applications.

Current studies in progress include:

  • Post-Transcriptional Processing of the Small Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase in the Postnatal Developing Pig. This project is funded by an NSERC Discovery grant. (2016 - 2021).
  • Metagenomic Discovery of Novel Industrial Enzymes. This project is supported by a grant-in-aid project with Metagen Enzyme Corporation (2016-2019).
  • Selectively Using Porous Biomass Carrier Materials to Enhance Exogenous Feed Enzyme Thermostability.  This project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs-University of Guelph Gryphon’s LAIRR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) Program (2015-2017).
  • Enabling A Novel Cellulase for Industrial Applications. This project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs-University of Guelph Gryphon’s LAIRR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) Program (2014-2017).

Graduate Student Information

Ming’s graduate students are involved in the whole range of research activities from literature review, study design, laboratory work, data analysis, publication and public reporting. His research associate helps to train the students in the use of laboratory equipment and the procedures for working with live animals and collecting data. Ming works closely with the students in designing their studies and ensuring that data are summarized and analyzed correctly. He also helps students work towards publication in quality journals with high impact. His students are well trained and prepared for their future research work and professional development.

Some graduate student projects have included:

  • Determination of endogenous phosphorus and true phosphorus digestibility in feeds for pigs
  • Understanding physiological factors affecting fractional protein synthesis rates in postnatal pigs
  • Early weaning affecting intestinal digestive enzyme gene expression in pigs

Graduate students trained under Ming’s supervision have found positions as part of university faculties, with federal and provincial governments and in industry (both management and technical support) in Canada and around the world.

Featured Publications

  • Yang, C., X. Yang, D. Lackeyram, T.C. Rideout, Z. Wang, B. Stoll, Y. Yin, D.G. Burrin, and M.Z. Fan. (2016). Expression of apical Na+-L-glutamine co-transport activity, B0-system neutral amino acid co-transporter (B0AT1) and angiotensin converting enzyme 2 along the jejunal crypt-villus axis in young pigs fed a liquid formula. Amino Acids 48:1491-1508
  • Lackeyram, D., C. Yang, T. Archbold, K. Swanson, and M.Z. Fan. (2010). Early weaning reduces small intestinal alkaline phosphatase expression in pigs. The Journal of Nutrition 140:461-468.
  • Fan, M.Z., J. Matthews, N.M.P. Etienne, B. Stoll, D. Lackeyram, and D.G. Burrin. (2004).  Expression of brush border L-glutamate transporters in epithelial cells along the crypt-villus axis in the neonatal pig.  American Journal of Physiology  287:G385-G398.
  • Fan, M.Z., T. Archbold, W.C. Sauer, D. Lackeyram, T. Rideout, Y. Gao, C.F.M. de Lange, and R.R. Hacker. (2001). Novel methodology allows measurement of true phosphorus digestibility and the gastrointestinal endogenous phosphorus outputs in studies with pigs. The Journal of Nutrition 131:2388-2396.
  • Golovan, S., R.D. Meidinger, A. Ajakaiye, M. Cottrill, M.Z. Weiderkehr, C. Plante, J. Pollard, M.Z. Fan, A. Hayes, A.C. Jesper Laursen, J.P. Hjorth, R.R. Hacker, D. Barney, J.P. Phillips and, C.W. Forsberg. (2001). Enhanced phosphorus digestion and reduced pollution potential by pigs with salivary phytase. Nature Biotechnology 19:741-745.

       For a full list of publications, please visit Ming's Google Scholar page.