Human Nutrition & Health

Dr Brian Green
Dr Brian Green, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Nutrition

The Human Nutrition & Health Theme is multi-disciplinary, with research spanning a range of applied and basic research activities encompassing: analytical chemistry, clinical chemistry, epidemiology, protein structure and function, molecular biology, transcriptomics, microbiology, enzymology, psychology, consumer behaviour, human intervention studies, metabolomics, mitochondrial biochemistry, cellular biochemistry, bioenergetics, exposure biomarkers, bioinformatics.

The aim of the theme is to understand diet-related health issues by performing fundamental research and to systematically examine the relationship between food, healthand chronic disease.

Dr Marie Cantwell, a nutrition and cancer epidemiologist specialises in the investigation of nutritional and lifestyle factors that influence both the risk and progression of cancer including breast, prostate, oesophageal and colorectal cancer. She had published extensively on the role of diet and lifestyle on oesophageal carcinoma risk within the Factors Influencing Barrett’s Oesophagus, Reflux Oesophagitis and Oesophageal adenocarcinoma (FINBAR) study, a population-based case-control study in Ireland, and is a member of the Pooling Group for the international collaboration BEACON (Barretts Esophagus and Adenocarcinoma Consortium).

Dr Helen Coleman is currently funded by a Cancer Research UK Population Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the role of vitamin D and related genetic variants in colorectal cancer survival.  Dr Coleman has general research interests in cancer epidemiology, particularly risk factors for progression from pre-cancerous conditions to cancer and factors associated with recurrence or survival after a cancer diagnosis, which includes the role of nutrition and nutrient*gene interactions.   

Dr Geraldine Cuskelly is funded by the World Cancer Research Fund and investigates the effects of heat processing on the formation of Millard reaction products including HCA’s and AGE’s. This includes measuring their formation in food during cooking/processing/heat treatment; assessing their effects on human health (using biomarkers), and measuring population intakes of these compounds.

Dr Moira Dean’s research is concerned with understanding the reasons for people's choice of foods and their decision making process. This research can be broken down into three main areas:  the development and application of social psychological models of attitudes and beliefs to food choice; dietary change; risk perception and risk communication concerning foods (SafeFood, Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, MRC)

Dr Alexander Galkin studies the role of mitochondria and respiratory chain enzymes in myocardial infarction, stroke and hypoxic injury of tissue which in future could facilitate the development of more ”targeted” antioxidant therapy and pharmaceutical cardio- and neuroprotective interventions.

Dr Yun Yun Gong’sworkis funded by NIEH (USA) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and focuses on the impact of food contaminants on human health, specifically in child growth and immunity. This primarily involves developing and applying biomarkers for human exposure assessments and conducting diet, lifestyle and public health interventions to reduce human exposure.

Dr Brian Green investigates the role of human intestinal hormones in metabolic, vascular and neurodegenerative disease (ARUK, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK). He also investigates how these disease conditions can be biochemically mapped using metabolomics techniques based on ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry.

Dr Valerie Holmes focuses her research on improving maternal and neonatal outcomes, with a particular interest in diabetes and pregnancy. Her research interests are in relation to how patient education and lifestyle interventions can improve outcomes. Research to date includes work on developing and evaluating educational resources in relation to preconception counselling for women with diabetes and management of gestational diabetes. Her research also investigates the potential benefit of postnatal lifestyle interventions in overweight women with a history of gestational diabetes. Dr Holmes has also a keen interest in the maternal outcome of pre-eclampsia, with research to date focusing on both prevention trials and predictive biomarkers.

Professor Sheena Lewis' research is focused on male infertility, identifying causes of and treatments for male infertility by developing novel biomarkers and examining the effect of nutraceuticals (antioxidant therapy) on infertility.  

Dr Jane McEneny investigates the role of inflammation and how this influences the anti-atherogenic properties of high density lipoproteins and how this may be modulated by dietary and supplement interventions. The main subject populations under investigation include those with characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and known cardiovascular disease.

Dr Ann McGinty’s research investigates the inflammatory mechanisms underlying cardiometabolic disease, both at the whole body and the cellular level.  In particular Dr McGinty’s work focuses on how adipose inflammation/dysfunction and vitamin D deficiency promote cardiometabolic disease, and on evaluating the anti-inflammatory impact of nutritional and pharmacological interventions.

Dr Gerry McKenna’s research examines the effect of dental health and function on nutritional intake and status in older people

Dr Michelle McKinley’s research investigates the ability of dietary interventions to modify nutritional status and risk of chronic disease, particularly diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as exploring novel approaches to encouraging and supporting diet and lifestyle behaviour change

Dr Caroline Meharg (nee Reiff)drives the application of Next-Gen Sequencing and Bioinformatics for the investigation of study of probiotics, gut immunology and inflammatory Bowel Disease. Her interests are in the application of microarrays, Next-Generation Sequencing, de novo Genome sequencing, Transcriptome Assembly, Re-Sequencing and SNP Analysis, RNA-seq, MicroRNA-seq, Bisulfite Sequencing and Network Analysis.

Dr Kostya Panov investigates dysregulation of rRNA synthesis associated (MRC) fundamental cellular mechanisms involved in the unrestrained proliferation of cancer cells.  rRNA biosynthesis represents a valid target for anticancer therapy as well as providing opportunities for the diagnosis of cancer.

Dr David Timson investigates the molecular pathology of type III galactosemia, the involvement of cytoskeletal scaffolds in cell signalling (BBSRC) and has reported ion beam/antiproton effects on cells with implications for novel radiotherapies (EPSCR).  Timson has active collaborations with Emory University (USA), UCSD (USA), CERN (Switzerland). Work with CERN has produced the first demonstration that antiprotons damage cellular DNA (with implications for novel radiotherapies).

Professor Jayne Woodside specialises in the conduct of human nutrition intervention studies with whole foods and whole diets, examining changes in nutritional status and in clinically relevant endpoints, and also in interventions to promote long term dietary change. 

Professor Ian Young is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast.  He is also a Consultant Chemical Pathologist and Director of Research and Development at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Director of the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network.  Professor Young’s main clinical and research interests are in nutrition, lipids and their effects on disease risk, particularly in relation to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.  He is an author of over 300 published research papers and is on the editorial boards of a number of leading international journals.  He is a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and Chairs the DHSSPS Obesity Prevention Steering Group.  In addition, he is Chair of the Scientific Division of the International Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine.