Micronutrient profiles and metabolic health in children and adults

Project Code: 10381690

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Professor Martin Kussmann (mkus786)

Principal investigator: Professor Melissa Wake (mwak005)

Application open date: 06 Jun 2017

Application deadline: 15 Dec 2017

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


Nutrition is key to improving and preventing metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. To date, technology and study designs have limited research to studying nutritional factors in isolation – a reductionist approach that does not reflect how physiology actually works. In fact, nutrient requirements and health outcomes are determined by the (individually subtle, yet concertedly strong) effects of multiple factors interacting across the life course to jointly exert an important health impact.

This PhD sits within a new partnership between the Liggins Institute (University of Auckland) and Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute partnership, aiming to advance the field to a new level of knowledge and capability regarding molecular nutrition and physiology. We will develop and apply both bio- and data-analytics, incorporating advanced biomathematics and computation to understand how molecular nutrition influences health.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

This project is available to students able to attract funding stipends, e.g. via university or international scholarships. 

This project will suit a person with qualifications in analytical biochemistry and/or molecular biology and could lead on to a career in human health science, at the emerging interface of clinical research, nutrition and systems biology.

**Please include undergraduate and any postgraduate transcripts with your application.**



Aim: Analytical development and clinical application of a multiplexed panel of lipo-soluble vitamers.

Description: Micronutrients comprise vitamins, essential fatty and amino acids, and minerals (trace elements). Health depends on both micronutrient content of foods and micronutrient bioavailability in humans. These vary by genetics, environment and context. “Vitamers” is used as a term to cover the “parent” vitamin molecules plus their bioactive derivatives and metabolites. The PhD student shall develop, validate and apply an analytical approach for the quantification of lipo-soluble vitamins and their main circulating forms in human plasma. This multiplexed bioanalytical method can be developed and implemented on an already installed and functional LC-MS/MS systems at the Liggins, and should come as one integrated, high-throughput run for the analysis of clinical samples from ‘Growing Up in Australia’. PhD supervisor and systems biologist Kussmannn has developed such platforms in his previous research laboratories (Meisser Redeuil J. Chrom. 2015; Petruzziello et al. Anal. Chem. submitted).

Other information

This project uses data collected for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (Growing Up in Australia) and its Child Health CheckPoint. 

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