Human Nutrition Research Centre

Staff Profile

Professor Ruth Valentine

Dean of Education



I received my first Degree in Food and Human Nutrition from the University of Newcastle in 1999 and a PhD in Molecular Biology in 2002. I believe the combination of these two disciplines represents a powerful approach through which to increase understanding of the relationship between diet and health. I have research interests in nutrient gene interactions with a particular focus on zinc and fluoride.    


PhD, BSc, Registered Nutritionist (R.Nutr), Postgraduate Certificate: Academic and Professional Learning,

Previous Positions

Lecturer: Molecular Biology. Northumbria University, Division of Biological and Food Science, School of Applied Sciences.

Post Doctoral Research Associate. University of Newcastle. The molecular basis of differential intestinal and placental responses to zinc nutrition.


Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
The Nutrition Society
The European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGO)

International Society for Zinc Biology (ISZB) 

Honours and Awards

2002: First prize awarded for abstract submitted to International Society for Trace Element Research in Humans (ISTERH) VI International Conference ‘Trace element research for a new century’. Quebec city, Canada.

2001: Young Physiologist Symposium Prize awarded for oral communication at the Young Physiologist’s Symposium ‘Membrane and Epithelial Function in Health and Disease’. The Physiological Society


Undergraduate Teaching

Dean of Education, Faculty of Medical Sciences

I continue to teach on several programmes within the Faculty.

Dental School - I contribute to BDS and ODHS programme

Course Lead Nutrition and Diet 

Teach on Immunology and Healthcare and Current Opinions in Dentistry

Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Sciences - I contribute to Food and Nutrition and Dietetics programmes

Stage 2 NUT2001 Macro and micro nutrients

Stage 3 NUT3001 Nutrition in Health and Disease


Research Interests

Cellular and Molecular Nutrition.

Member of the Epithelial Research Group (
Human Nutrition Reseach Centre (

Centre for Oral Heath Research (

Current Work

Zinc is an essential component of the diet and plays a role if a vast array of functions in cells and tissues. There is evidence that sub-clinical zinc deficiency may be important with respect to aging, immune function and neonatal health. Zinc can also be toxic if over accumulated. Current projects are investigating the effect of maternal zinc nutrition on tooth zinc content and the role of zinc transporters in pulp tissue. 

As a public health measure fluoride is valuable in improving the oral health of communities with its ability to reduce dental caries by almost 50%. However, several recent studies in industrialised and developing countries have shown an increase in the prevalence of dental fluorosis, a condition which causes mottling of the enamel, in both water fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities, which may suggest that the threshold of fluoride exposure for maximising oral health benefit while minimising potential risk of dental fluorosis has been exceeded.  Despite the involvement and importance of fluoride in reducing dental caries incidence, the mechanism of fluoride absorption and metabolism remain unclear. Fluoride research is focussing on molecular mechanisms of fluoride transport in the mammalian gastro-intestinal tract.

Research Roles

I am an assessor for the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists. In this role I assess portfolios of evidence on behalf of and make recommendations to the Registration Committee about admission to the UK Register of Nutritionists.

Postgraduate Supervision

Role of Zinc transporters in dental pulp tissue. This work os being carried out through a Joint Doctoral (PhD)Degree Programme with Universitas Indonesia.  Nieka Wahono

Do distinct epigenetic mechanisms underlie effects of resveratrol and SIRT1 that contribute to healthy ageing? (PhD - Rank Funding) Suzanne  Escolme 

The contribution of epigenetic modifications of the ZTRE to age-associated changes in the regulation of zinc transporter gene expression. (PhD - MRC-DTG Funding). Joy Hardyman

The contribution of epigenetic processes to sub-optimal metal micronutrient absorption in the ageing gut. (PhD). Ogo Agbor Ogo 

Factors associated with the occurrence of Developmental Defects of Enamel and Dental Fluorosis among 4 and 8 year olds in Nigeria (PhD). Olushola Ibiyemi

Investigating the effects of topical neuromodulatory medications on the oral mucosa in vitro .  (PhD). Mustafa Al-Musawi. 

Esteem Indicators

British Council workshop on Fluoride – harnessing the benefits, mitigating the side effects to be held in Brazil 2014.  Organising and running workshop - RA Valentine, A Maguire, V Zohoori, M Buzalaf 

Meeting organising committee member for ISZB to be held 2014

Invited to speak at a Rank Mini Symposium on the Transport of Micronutrients in Animals and Plants, held in October 2008


A Maguire (PI), V Zohoori (CoI) and RA Valentine (CoI).  Fluoride Research £33,736.41.  Borrow Foundation 

RA Valentine, D Ford, M Walker, S Campbell. Heterologous expression of ZnT8 allelic variants associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes in an insulin-secreting beta cell line model. £12, 658. Diabetes UK March 2009-August 2009.

RA Valentine. Intracellular trafficking of splice variants of the zinc transporter SLC30A5 in response to zinc. £330 215. BBSRC 2006-2009

RA Valentine. The effect of heteromeric protein complexes of hZTL1 and ZnT5 on zinc transport. £1130. Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Research Bursary. July 2006

RA Valentine. Development of a non radioactive technique of measuring zinc transport in human cell lines.£25 000. HEFCE Promising Research Fellowship Scheme. September 2005-August 2006

S.Kury et al. Molecular investigation of the pathogenesis of Acrodermatitis Enteropathica. (RA Valentine Co investigator). 8000 Euros. Groupment d’Interet Scientifique (GIS). October 2003 – September 2005