Professor Alexandra Johnstone

Professor Alexandra Johnstone
BSc, MSc, PhD, PGCE, RNutr

Personal Chair

Professor Alexandra Johnstone
Professor Alexandra Johnstone

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 438614
The University of Aberdeen Room 4.054, The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill Health Campus, Ashgrove Road West, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD
Web Links


I am recognized as a leading innovative UK researcher within the field of human appetite control and specifically, the role of dietary protein. Since completing my PhD in 2002, my extensive publication record (>60 peer reviewed publications with a total of 3839 citations, of which 2659 since 2010) and excellent track record in funding from RCUK and EU funding bodies has placed me in a position where I have influenced food choice in the UK through collaboration with the food industry and my ongoing knowledge transfer activities.

I think of the kitchen as my ‘laboratory’ and have set rigorous standards to maintain quality scientific protocols. Between 2009-2015 i was a workpackage lead for EU-funded NeuroFAST (Neurobiology of food addiction and stress), SATIN (Satiety Innovation) and Full4Health (food-gut-brain accross the lifecours). I am the grant holder for a RCUK Medical Research Council grant on Chrono-nutrition and co-applicant on a further two RCUK grants. 


Research Interests

My position is funded by the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) within a Programme of Strategic Research to be delivered over 2016-2021, in relation to “Food, Health and Wellbeing’. My Scottish Government work has invetigated:

2016 – 2021    Research focus to examine the role of dietary components on appetite control influencing energy balance, in humans, to help with healthy weight control.

2010 – 2015    Research focus within Obesity and Metabolic health, to examine appetite control across the lifecourse. Published work relating to investigation of mechanisms relating to protein induced satiety and addressed safety of diets with Gut Health colleagues.

2010 – 2015    Strategic Partnership Project with the Food and Drink Industry, which examined  ‘Health impacts of sustainable ingredient selection in the food and drink industry’.  Published work on plant protein sources and linked with WWF to address sustainable healthy diets.

Within the field of appetite control, have strategic vision and expertise to lead a team to conduct controlled dietary intervention studies in human subjects, including vulnerable groups of children through to elderly. Application of food-gut-brain bio-markers and assessment of energy balance at an international level in EU and RCUK grant awards. Targeted collaboration with internal and external colleagues adds unique opportunity for advancement of knowledge through publications, to ensure inclusion in the University REF exercise. Application of research output in public engagement and knowledge exchange with a variety of stakeholders (including policy, public, media and food sectors).

Current Research

I successfully lead and manage high calibre research activities within the Rowett Institute. I am actively engaged in organising and delivering teaching excellence and learning and I translate my team’s innovative science to a range of stakeholders achieving high impact, through sustained knowledge exchange activities, and having real commercial and community benefit. 

I initiate, organise and co-ordinate multi-disciplinary team projects within the Rowett Institute, Nationally and Internationally, leading to the submission of successful major grant proposals to EU and UK funding bodies (MRC, BBSRC, CSO), as Grant Holder and Co-Applicant. The impact of this is to promote a multi-disciplinary research strategy within the Institute, and with external collaborators, both within the College of Medicine and international colleagues. This approach strengthens research output and quality.

I plan and implement the strategic vision for whole-body obesity research for the Scottish Government grant award. 



Knowledge transfer: I was awarded the Principal’s award for Public Engagement in 2016, in recognition for my varied and continued commitment to engagement with stakeholders including the general public, policy, food industry, science and media. I contributed an Impact Case for the 2014 REF exercise



My own innovative science strategy has led to highly productive collaboration with Rowett gut health colleagues resulting in several highly cited 4* publications. I have an extensive publication record (>60 peer reviewed publications with a total of 3115 citations) with a total H index of 27.

Research Grants

  • 2010–2015 NeuroFAST –explored the stress and eating behavior, to provide new data from human studies that is needed to inform health policy initiatives (local post-doc and two research assistants) (Scott & 410165664, Stress and eating behaviour: implications for obesity. Obes Facts. 2012;5(2):277-87).
  • 2011-2016 Full4Health – explored the FOOD-GUT-BRAIN axis across age groups (8 to 80 years), (local PhD student and post-doc) (Mercer, 410165664, Halford. Approaches to influencing food choice across the age groups: from children to the elderly. Proc Nutr Soc. 2015 May;74(2):149-57).



Teaching Responsibilities

I am Lead Educator for the Massive Online Open-Learning Course (MOOC) for University of Aberdeen Nutrition and Wellbeing Course, which has had over 60K participants since starting in 201


I am course co-ordinator for the MSc Human Nutrition and Metabolism, Assessment of Nutritional Status

Further Info

Knowledge Exchange Activities



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Page 1 of 3 Results 1 to 25 of 74

  • Green, MA, Watson, AW, Brunstrom, JM, Corfe, BM, Johnstone, A, Williams, EA & Stevenson, EJ 2020, 'Comparing supermarket loyalty card data with traditional diet survey data for understanding how protein is purchased and consumed in older adults for the UK, 2014-16', Nutrition Journal. [Online] DOI:
  • Balloccu, S, Reiter, E, Johnstone, A & Fyfe, C 2020, 'How are you? Introducing stress-based text tailoring', Paper presented at IntelLanG , Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 7/09/20 - 7/09/20.
  • Ruddick-Collins, LC, Morgan, PJ & Johnstone, AM 2020, 'Mealtime: A circadian disruptor and determinant of energy balance?', Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 32, no. 7, e12886. [Online] DOI:
  • Johnstone, AM, Kelly, J, Ryan, S, Romero-Gonzalez, R, McKinnon, H, Fyfe, C, Naslund, E, Lopez-Nicolas, R, Bosscher, D, Bonnema, A, Frontela-Saseta, C, Ros-Berruezo, G, Horgan, G, Ze, X, Harrold, J, Halford, J, Gratz, SW, Duncan, SH, Shirazi-Beechey, S & Flint, HJ 2020, 'Nondigestible Carbohydrates Affect Metabolic Health and Gut Microbiota in Overweight Adults after Weight Loss', The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 150, no. 7, pp. 1859-1870. [Online] DOI:
  • Neacsu, M, Raikos, V, Benavidez-Paz, Y, Duncan, SH, Duncan, GJ, Christie, JS, Johnstone, AM & Russell, WR 2020, 'Sapogenol is a major microbial metabolite in human plasma associated with high protein soy-based diets: the relevance for functional food formulations', Foods, vol. 9, no. 4, 422. [Online] DOI:
  • Lonnie, M & Johnstone, AM 2020, 'The public health rationale for promoting plant protein as an important part of a sustainable and healthy diet', Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 281-293. [Online] DOI:
  • Hopkins, M, Duarte, C, Beaulieu, K, Finlayson, G, Gibbons, C, Johnstone, A, Whybrow, S, Horgan, GW, Blundell, JE & Stubbs, RJ 2019, 'Activity energy expenditure is an independent predictor of energy intake in humans', International Journal of Obesity, vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 1466–1474. [Online] DOI:
  • Hopkins, M, Finlayson, G, Duarte, C, Gibbons, C, Johnstone, AM, Whybrow, S, Horgan, GW, Blundell, JE & Stubbs, RJ 2019, 'Biological and psychological mediators of the relationships between fat mass, fat-free mass and energy intake', International Journal of Obesity, vol. 43, pp. 233-242. [Online] DOI:
  • Gratz, SW, Hazim, S, Richardson, AJ, Scobbie, L, Johnstone, AM, Fyfe, C, Holtrop, G, Lobley, GE & Russell, WR 2019, 'Dietary carbohydrate rather than protein intake drives colonic microbial fermentation during weight loss', European Journal of Nutrition, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 1147-1158. [Online] DOI:
  • Donaldson, AIC, Smith, TO, Alder, S, Johnstone, AM, de Roos, B, Aucott, LS, Gordon, AL & Myint, PK 2019, 'Effect of nonmeat, high-protein supplementation on quality of life and clinical outcomes in older residents of care homes: a systematic review and meta-analysis', Nutrition Reviews, vol. 77, no. 2, pp. 116-127. [Online] DOI:
  • Partridge, D, Lloyd, KA, Rhodes, JM, Walker, AW, Johnstone, AM & Campbell, BJ 2019, 'Food additives: Assessing the impact of exposure to permitted emulsifiers on bowel and metabolic health – introducing the FADiets study', Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 329-349. [Online] DOI:
  • McBey, D, Watts, D & Johnstone, AM 2019, 'Nudging, formulating new products, and the lifecourse: a qualitative assessment of the viability of three methods for reducing Scottish meat consumption for health, ethical, and environmental reasons', Appetite, vol. 142, 104349. [Online] DOI:
  • Donaldson, A, Johnstone, A & Myint, P 2019, 'Optimising Nutrition and Hydration in Care Homes: Getting It Right in Person Rather than in Policy', Geriatrics, vol. 4, no. 1, 1. [Online] DOI:
  • Buckley, CM, Austin, S, Corfe, BM, Green, MA, Johnstone, AM, Stevenson, EJ, Williams, EA & Brunstrom, JM 2019, 'Protein Valuation in Food Choice Is Positively Associated with Lean Mass in Older Adults', The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 149, no. 11, pp. 2056-2064. [Online] DOI:
  • Johnstone, AM, Donaldson, AIC, Scott, KP & Myint, PK 2019, 'The Ageing Gut-Brain Study: Exploring the role of the gut microbiota in dementia', Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 145-153. [Online] DOI:
  • Johnstone, AM, Donaldson, AIC & Ageing Gut Brain (Age-GB) Study Team 2018, 'Care Home Research: Future Challenges and Opportunities', Geriatrics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2. [Online] DOI:
  • Charbonnier, L, van Meer, F, Johnstone, AM, Crabtree, D, Buosi, W, Manios, Y, Androutsos, O, Giannopoulou, A, Viergever, MA, Smeets, PAM & Full4Health consortium 2018, 'Effects of hunger state on the brain responses to food cues across the life span', Neuroimage, vol. 171, pp. 246-255. [Online] DOI:
  • Stevenson, EJ, Watson, AW, Brunstrom, JM, Corfe, BM, Green, MA, Johnstone, AM & Williams, EA 2018, 'Protein for Life: Towards a focussed dietary framework for healthy ageing', Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 97-102. [Online] DOI:
  • Lonnie, M, Hooker, E, Brunstrom, JM, Corfe, BM, Green, MA, Watson, AW, Williams, EA, Stevenson, EJ, Penson, S & Johnstone, AM 2018, 'Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults', Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 3, 360. [Online] DOI:
  • Donaldson, AIC, Johnstone, AM, de Roos, B & Myint, PK 2018, 'Role of protein in healthy ageing', European Journal of Integrative Medicine, vol. 23, pp. 32-36. [Online] DOI:
  • Ruddick-Collins, LC, Johnston, JD, Morgan, PJ & Johnstone, AM 2018, 'The Big Breakfast Study: Chrono-nutrition influence on energy expenditure and bodyweight', Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 174-183. [Online] DOI:
  • Donaldson, AIC, de Roos, B, Johnstone, AM & Myint, PK 2016, 'Is life longer with a box of chocolates?', Heart, vol. 102, no. 13, pp. 990-991. [Online] DOI:
  • López-Nicolás, R, Marzorati, M, Scarabottolo, L, Halford, JCG, Johnstone, AM, Frontela-Saseta, C, Sanmartín, AM, Ros-Berruezo, G & Harrold, JA 2016, 'Satiety Innovations: Food Products to Assist Consumers with Weight Loss, Evidence on the Role of Satiety in Healthy Eating: Overview and In Vitro Approximation', Current Obesity Reports, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 97-105. [Online] DOI:
  • Mercer, JG, Johnstone, A & Halford, JCG 2015, 'Approaches to influencing food choice across the age groups: from children to the elderly', Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, vol. 74, no. 02, pp. 149-157. [Online] DOI:
  • Buosi, W, Bremner, DM, Horgan, GW, Fyfe, CL & Johnstone, AM 2015, 'Effect of High-Protein Breakfast Meals on Within-Day Appetite and Food Intake in Healthy Men and Women', Food and Nutrition Sciences, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 386-390. [Online] DOI:
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