Nutrition and Preventive Medicine
This team straddles the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences (SMDBS), forming a core inter-disciplinary research (IDR) pillar within IGFS. With research expertise in three main areas – molecular nutrition; biomarker development and discovery; and nutritional epidemiology and randomised controlled trials – the theme has expanded from six to 14.3 FTE academic staff in the last two years and also includes 27 PDRFs and 36 PhD students.
Prestigious investment in this theme includes two US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme funding streams (£3.25M & £2.5M; 2019-24). There is a major focus on plant-based diets, diet quality, biomarkers, cardio-metabolic health and healthy ageing. International collaborators include, for example, world leaders at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and across Europe.
Having a strong foothold in the Centre for Public Health at the SMDBS drives impact. For example, this theme participates in two all-Ireland, INTERREG healthcare intervention projects, one involving Type 2 Diabetes in relation to neuro-cognitive ageing; the other regarding weight management in pregnancy. Similarly, two researchers lead on the dietary aspects of the NICOLA study – the first large-scale, longitudinal study of ageing in NI.
This group holds monthly meetings throughout the academic year, providing a vibrant and supportive environment for experienced staff and ECRs alike.
Queuosine (Q) is a micronutrient that plays a key role in metabolism, brain function and healthy ageing. There is a lack of knowledge, however, of the levels in food and optimum intake.
Q and its precursor queuine (q) are exclusively retrieved from ingested food and bacterial microflora. As part of a US-Ireland R&D Programme consortium (Belfast, Dublin, Florida, Ohio, San Diego), Professor Brian Green’s group is working on fundamentals of Q/q biology and developing methods to measure them. Related projects under the CITI-GENS DTP combine to create strong potential to improve human health.
Led by Dr Qiaozhu Su and funded by the British Heart Foundation, this three-year study will investigate the links between Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Specifically, the project will investigate the role of excessive nutrients and two important molecules, microRNA-378 and estrogen-related receptor gamma, in people with Type 2 diabetes who go on to suffer heart attacks, strokes or heart failure. Successful delivery will potentially facilitate the identification of novel drug targets to help prevent people with Type-2 diabetes from developing serious cardiovascular disease.
Dementia is major public-health challenge. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to under-nutrition which can increase risk. There is a critical need, therefore, to address that under-nutrition.
Dr Claire McEvoy co-ordinates the EU H2020 JPI-HDHL ‘PROMED-COG’ project, with academic partners and stakeholders in Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Germany to better understand how diet and physical activity can prevent under-nutrition. Ultimately, this project aims to generate evidence-based guidelines for using a protein-enriched Mediterranean diet for healthier neuro-cognitive ageing.
Research Expertise in Nutrition and Preventive Medicine
- Professor Jayne Woodside
- Professor Aedin Cassidy
- Professor Michelle McKinley
- Professor Helen Roche
- Professor Ian Young
- Professor Brian Green
- Professor Moira Dean
- Dr Marie Cantwell
- Dr Claire McEvoy
- Dr Qiaozhu Su
- Dr Anne Nugent
- Dr Danielle McCarthy
- Dr Laura Magowan
- Dr Tilman Khun
- Dr Konstantin Panov
- Dr Ciaren Graham