Human Nutrition Research Centre

Staff Profile

Professor John Mathers

Professor of Human Nutrition


Roles and Responsibilities

Director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre (HNRC) and Director of the Centre for Healthier Lives

Principle Investigator for a portfolio of research projects in the areas of nutrition and the prevention of complex diseases including colon cancer, cardiovascular disease and dementia. This work includes studies on the biological basis of ageing and ranges from molecular and cell biological studies, through investigations in human volunteers to nutritional epidemiology and large-scale intervention studies.

Teaching Commitments

Teaching on several undergraduate and post-graduate degree programmes including: MBBS, BSc (Hons) Food & Human Nutrition and MRes in Medical & Molecular Biosciences Ageing and Health.


PhD in Nutrition, University of Cambridge, 1979, Dissertation Title: Interrelationships between energy and protein metabolism in the rumen

Diploma in Nutrition, University of Cambridge, 1973

BSc in Agricultural Biochemistry & Nutrition, Newcastle University, 1971


Member of The Nutrition Society

Honorary Fellow, Association for Nutrition

Professional Responsibilities

Trustee, British Nutrition Foundation (2014 - present)

Rank Prize Funds Nutrition Committee (2014 - present)

Trustee and Chair of Nutrition Committee, Rank Prize Funds (2018 - present)

Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) (2008 - present)

Member of Scientific Advisory Board of Joint Programming Initiative "A healthy diet for a healthy Life (2019 - present)

Member of International Grants Panel for World Cancer Research Fund International (2018 - present)

Member of Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowships Panel (2018 - present)

Member of UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Panel (2018 - present)

Member of UKRI-BBSRC COVID-19  Cohort of Experts (2020 - present)

Honours and Awards

President, The Nutrition Society (2001- 2004)

The British Nutrition Foundation Prize for outstanding contributions to nutrition (2002)

Nutrition Society Gold Medal (2012)

NUTRIM Lecture, University of Maastricht (2014)

Neonatal Society "Widdowson Lecture" (2015)

Molecular Epidemiology Group Silver Medal (2015)


Google Scholar: Click here.


Research Interests

Molecular nutrition research:
cancer-related studies
cardiovascular disease and diabetes-related studies
Public health nutrition research:
nutritional epidemiology
nutrition and ageing

Current Research Projects

Diet, physical activity and dementia risk in UK adults: Epidemiology and MedEx feasibility study funded by Alzheimer's Research UK

BORICC Follow-Up Study

Food4Me: Personalised Nutrition: An Integrated Analysis of Opportunities and Challenges funded by 
Commission of the European Communities  

Development of interventions to enhance health and wellbeing in later life (The LIVEWELL programme) funded by the MRC on behalf of the LifeLong Health and wellbeing initiative

Mechanisms of DNA methylation instability funded by Dunhill Medical Trust 

FSF - Cancer stem cells in colorectal cancer funded Northumbria Health Care NHS Foundation Trust 

Systems biology approach to defining impact of a genetic variant of GP x 4 and selenium intake funded by
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Impact of Non-Digestible Carbohydrates on Biomarkers of GI Health: A Human Intervention Study funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Newcastle University Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality sponsored by BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC and MRC 

Future Research

Nutritional genomics: ageing and nutrition
Nutritional epigenetics and mechanisms by which environmental factors, especially diet, impact on health in the long term

Postgraduate Supervision

PhD and MD student supervision in major areas of research interest especially nutritional genomics and epigenetics

Esteem Indicators

- Invited Speaker: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Chicago “Can Cancer Prevention Be Individualized?” (March 2012)
- Invited Participant: Evaluation Panel to evaluate applications within the fields of epidemiology, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, paediatrics, obesity, nutrition and physical activity at the Academy of Finland (February 2012)

- Invited Participant: Scientific meeting of the UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) in Cambridge (January 2012) 

- Invited Speaker: 11th congress of the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) in Madrid, Spain “Genetic and epigenetic variation: potential biological basis for personalised nutrition” (October 2011)

- Invited Speaker: 12th International Congress of Human Genetics in Montreal, Canada “Epigenomics: understanding individual differences in response to nutrition and ageing?” (October 2011)

- Invited Lecturer: MF9390 - Epigenetics, development and disease course in Oslo “Epigenetics & Nutrition” (September 2011)

- Invited Speaker: Food and Drink Federation, Nutrition Committee in London “Nutrition and Healthy Ageing” (September 2011)

- Invited Lecturer: M.Sc. in Nutritional Medicine, University of Surrey “Diet, colon cancer and diverticular disease” (April 2011)

- Invited Participant: Mid Term Review Nutrigenomics Consortium in the Netherlands (March 2011)

- Invited External Assessor: Quinquennial Development Exercise (QDE) visit to the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds (January 2011)
- Invited Speaker: Epigenetics, Development and Disease Conference in Oslo. “Epigenetics and nutrition” (December 2010)

- Invited Speaker: IV Congress of the International Society of Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics in Pamplona, Spain. “Epigenomics: understanding how nutrition modulates the ageing process” (November 2010)

- 7th Nestle International Nutrition Symposium in Switzerland (October 2010)

- Invited Speker: Network in Epidemiology and Nutrition (NEON) in Stockholm. “The new biology: Using nutrigenomics approaches to understand how diet influences health” (October 2010)

- Opening lecture for joint meeting of 4 French HNRC's - Club CRNH in France. “HNRS in Europe: a useful tool for research in nutrition” (October 2010)

- Invited Speaker: WCRF International Conference in London. “Epigenetics, nutrition and bowel cancer risk” (September 2010)

- Gates Foundation (Diarrhoea  project) Meeting in Seattle (August 2010)

- Global Food Security Programme Workshop in Reading (June 2010)

- Invited Speaker: MitoFood meeting in Aberdeen. “Mitochondrial mutations in the human colon during ageing”. (May 2010)

- 5th External Advisory Board (EAB) Meeting in Germany. (May 2010)

- Invited Speaker: SV: Pufendorf Instutute symposium in Lund. ““Nutrition, epigenetics and

ageing” (May 2010)

- Invited Speaker: FSA Metabolomics Workshop in London. “Development of metabolomics as novel approach to biological indicators which characterise and quantify dietary exposure. Experimental protocols in the MEDE Study.” (March 2010)

- Invited Speaker: Alan Walker: Healthy Ageing Workshop in Beijing. “Epigenomics: molecular mechanisms through which nutrition may modulate the ageing process (March 2010)

- Invited Speaker: 1st International Metabolomics & More Symposium in Germany. “The elephant in the room: Applications of Metabolomics to assess Dietary Intake (March 2010)
- Ageing Working Group meeting, BBSRC London (February 2010)

- Invited Speaker, SYSDIET: International Scientific Panel Meeting “Nutrition and epigenetics’ (November 2009) 

- Invited Speaker, ICN Bankok Symposium on Epigenetics, Haslberger “Early Nutrition epigenetics” (October 2009)

- Invited Keynote Speaker, 8th Carbohydrate Bioengineering meeting, Naples, Italy “Carbohydrates and glycoconjugates in health and nutrition” (May 2009)

- Invited Speaker, British Council Science Programme, Bilbao Spain, Lecture in “Nutrition Epigenomics and Health – how the genome learn from experience ” (April 2009)

- Chair/Invited Speaker, Age, Health and Nutrition in Europe, QEII Conference Centre, London “the important issues facing the older population in the UK with respect to nutrition”
- (March 2009)

- MitoFood Workshop and Management Committee meeting, Palma de Mallorca, Spain (March 2009)

- Invited Speaker, 4th ECNIS Annual Meeting, Lueven, Belgium “Epigenetic biomarkers of bowel cancer risk” (March 2009)

- Invited Keynote Speaker, Wageningen Nutritional Science Forum, Arnhem, Netherlands “From ‘little science’ to ‘big science’: a philosophical perspective” (March 2009)

- Invitation to the Launch of the Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project Findings, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London (October 2008)

- Invited to the John Denham Seminar, Ageing and Lifelong Health and Wellbeing, RIBA London (October 2008)

- Invited to join the Reviewing Panel for the Biomarkers Call for Proposal, MRC London (October 2008)

- Invited to Participate, Cancer Prevention Trials Unit (CPTU) Workshop, Charter House Square, London (September 2008)

- Invited to participate, Development Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) 1st Summer Workshop, University of Nottingham (July 2008)

- Invited Symposium, Nutrition Society Summer Meeting, University of Nottingham (July 2008)

- Invited Speaker, Nutrition Society Irish Section, University College Dublin “Epigenetics – uses and limitations in nutrition research” (June 2008)

- Invited Speaker, 3rd Asia – Pacific Nutrigenomics Conference, Melbourne (May 2008)

- Strategic Review of Nutrition, Cambridge (April 2008)

- Invited Speaker, ECNIS – NuGO, Barcelona (March 2008)

- MRC Centre Call, Lifelong Health and Wellbeing, London (February 2008)
- WP6 Meeting, Palma (November 2007)
- Invited Speaker, Nutrigenomics Master Class, Wageningen, Netherlands (November 2007)
- CSIRO McMaster Fellowship, Australia (June – September 2007)


JGW Patterson Foundation
Rank Prize Funds
Commission of the European Communities


Undergraduate Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching:
BSc Food and Human Nutrition - lectures, tutorials and seminars
MBBS Lectures, Faculty of Medical Sciences
MRes in Medical & Molecular Biosciences