Dr Madalina Neacsu

Dr Madalina Neacsu
Dipl Eng, MSc, PhD

Research Fellow

I am currently accepting PhDs in Nutrition and Health.

Dr Madalina Neacsu
Dr Madalina Neacsu

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 438760
The University of Aberdeen Gut Health Theme, Rowett Institute,
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen, Scotland,


Madi studied biochemical engineering (1995-2000) at the University Babes-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, followed by a MSc in bio-catalysis (2000-2001) from same University and a PhD in Natural Products Chemistry and Biotechnology (2001-2006). After the PhD years spent with prestigious fellowships in several European Universities(Finland, Belgium, Spain), she specialised on functional food development in both academia and industry. Madi has contributed to the compilation of dossiers for successful ESFA-approved health claims (Case Studies | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk). She received funding from the Scottish Government for a four-year programme (2012-2016) to investigate the potential for sustainable and healthy high-protein ingredients and has a further six-year funding (2016-2022) to further develop this work. This work has a strong focus on developing technologies for designing specialised functional foods exploring the potential of high protein crops (i.e. buckwheat, hemp) for T2D prevention/maintenance. Her work translates key findings from human studies into bioactive-formulations, functional foods/ingredients using a zero-waste approach, contributing to a circular nutrition and a greener economy. The work has been expanded to Brazil through a CAPES grant to develop sustainable food formulations (Quinoa). Currently, Madi has been responsible for product development in a GCRF grant with Malawi (2017-2020) which, has contributed to bring a scientifically proven, patented fair-trade nutraceutical product closer to market . Madi’s work involves working across industry and academia for the promotion and understanding of the chemistry and biology underpinning all aspects of food science. She actively participates in knowledge exchange activities, specifically raising public awareness of the importance of consuming plant-based foods, being recently awarded (2020) The Principal Excellence Prize on Public Engagement with Research.

Latest Publications

  • The human aspect of horse care: How the covid-19 pandemic impacted the wellbeing of equestrian industry stakeholders

    Ward, A., Stephen, K., Argo, C., Watson, C., Harris, P., Neacsu, M., Russell, W., Grove-White, D., Morrison, P.

  • COVID-19 impacts equine welfare: Policy implications for laminitis and obesity

    Ward, A. B., Stephen, K., Argo, C. M. G., Harris, P. A., Watson, C. A., Neacsu, M., Russell, W., Grove-White, D. H., Morrison, P. K.

  • Nutritional and chemical profiling of UK-grown potato bean (Apios americana Medik) reveal its potential for diet biodiversification and revalorisation

    Neacsu, M., Vaughan, N. J., Perri, V., Duncan, G. J., Walker, R., Coleman, M., Russell, W. R.

  • Sapogenol is a major microbial metabolite in human plasma associated with high protein soy-based diets: the relevance for functional food formulations

    Neacsu, M., Raikos, V., Benavidez-Paz, Y., Duncan, S. H., Duncan, G. J., Christie, J., Johnstone, A. M., Russell, W. R.

  • Rapid method for quantification of anthocyanidins and anthocyanins in human biological samples

    Kasote, D. M., Duncan, G. J., Neacsu, M., Russell, W. R.

View all Publications

External Memberships and Affiliations

Member of “The Royal Society of Chemistry”

Prizes and Awards

- Principal’s Excellence Award for Public Engagement with Research (2020)

 - Mars Award for Polyphenol Research, International Polyphenols Conference 


Research Areas

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me


  • Food Science
  • Food and Beverage Production
  • Food and Beverage Studies
  • Nutrition

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Research Overview


  • Identify novel crops, suitable to grow in Scotland, which can provide sustainable sources of nutrients and establishing their nutritional and phytochemical profile. Currently, my work involves crops like: buckwheat, hemp, potato bean (Apios Americana).
  • Assess the nutritional and health impact of food crops on humans through running acute and chronic human dietary intervention studies, acquiring crucial information on their key bioactives bioavailability and metabolism.
  • Understand the bioavailability, metabolism and bioactivity of dietary bioactives: my research focuses on:

-determination the form and concentration of key dietary metabolites following the consumption of plant based foods.

-ex vivo assessment of plant bioactive metabolites bioactivity at nutritionally relevant concentrations and forms.

-developing methods of synthesis, measuring and isolating of biomolecules from diets and their metabolites from human biological samples.

  • Translate key nutritional research findinds into specialised food formulations/ingredients and novel foods:

-design of biological active food formulations, and functional foods to prevent or aid metabolic disorders. This can support claims for a range of diverse health promoting products.

-industry engagement to address demand and find solution to reformulate existing foods for better nutritional profile or to reduce food and agricultural by products/waste though developing novel foods while contributing to a greener economy and circular nutrition.

Current Research

Buckfood Project. The current work has a strong focus on developing technologies for designing specialised functional foods exploring the potential of high protein crops (i.e. buckwheat, hemp) for T2D prevention/maintenance. Buckfood human study looks at the potential of buckwheat rich foods in modulation of postprandial glycemia in people living with Type 2 diabetes.  Rowett Institute on Twitter: "It's #WorldDiabetesDay today. #Research from @MadalinaNeacsu3 looks at how functional plant food ingredients could ameliorate glucose metabolism and help people living with type 2 diabetes. #leadingideas @SEFARIscot @aberdeenuni https://t.co/AwSiht6kI3" / Twitter


Novel Crops Project. Establish novel or underutilized crops as best candidates for food security and for a healthy sustainable diet. Study the nutritional composition of food crops such as buckwheat, hemp, or potato bean to assess their potential to contribute to futture protein demand and agricultural diversification in Scotland. Explore their food and agricultural by-products to be revalorised for food and feed applications. Furthermore to undestand these crops potential to contribute to diet biodiversification and meeting the reduction of Green House Gas Emissions in Scotland. Hemp’s role in diet biodiversification and reducing greenhouse gas emissions | SEFARI


Hemp Project | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)


 Gut health and heart disease Project: Development of specialised food: Exploring various dietary components and strategies (specific Gastro Intestinal Tract targeted food) to deliver functional foods and ingredients as part of nutritional therapies to tackle atherosclerosis.Functional food and gut microbiota -Dr Madalina Neacsu (panopto.eu)Microbiota-directed food formulation | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)

Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement

My work involves working across public, industry and academia for promotion and understanding of the chemistry and biology underpinning all aspects of food science. I actively participate in knowledge exchange activities, specifically raising public awareness of the importance of consuming plant-based foods, being recently awarded (2020) The Principal Excellence Prize on Public Engagement with Research.


Taste of Plants Project.This project consists of a novel format knowledge exchange event aimed to communicate SEFARI (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) research to key stakeholders. Taste of Plants Project | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)

If you want to know more about this project you can follow the link: Taste of Plants | SEFARI


A taste of plants recipe book. We have recently been studying how different sources of protein may contribute to healthier diets, could help Scotland be more sustainable (both economically and environmentally) and help reduce its dependence on imported foods and ingredients. Our research has looked at the potential to use our land in different ways.

A Taste of Plants Recipe Book | The Rowett Institute | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)


ERASMUS+ Interinstitutional Agreement between University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj Napoca, Romania and The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, UK.

This grant facilitates the mobility  and exchange of postgraduates research students and staff for specific complementary projects and lecturing.

Miguel Hernandez University, Elche Spain and Mitra Sol Spain: development, production and scale up technologies for functional foods and ingredients using food and agricultural by-products.


My current supervision areas are: Nutrition and Health.

Research Funding and Grants

 2020    SEFARI Gateway ROF, Hemp for 45 (co-PI)

 2019    SEFARI Gateway ROF, A Taste of Plants (PI, £13,000) 

 2016-2022       Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme (PI, fully funded, approx. £1M/year)

Novel Crops (Productive and Sustainable Land Management and Rural Economies)

 2018    MRC Proximity to Discovery Grant Mobility grant to engage with Industry (PI);

 2016-2021       ERASMUS+ Mobility grant (PI);

 2017-2020       BBSRC Global Challenges Research Fund (£473,600; co-PI,), Moringa; delivering nutrition and economic value to the people of Malawi;

 2015-2018       CAPES Brazil (PI, approx. £100,000, PhD studentship), Developing novel sustainable functional food ingredients;

 2014-2015       FHIS grant with industry (PI, approx. £10,000) Formulation of a meat free version of traditional “Scotch pie” and asses its nutritional benefits.



Teaching Responsibilities

Coordinator on Line Msc Course (RN5503): Development and Coordination of Clinical Nutrition for Disease Prevention (including course design)



RN5005 - Food Reformulation: Theory & Practice

RN5503 - Clinical Nutrition For Disease Prevention

RN5504 - Nutrition And Health Through The Life Stages

RN5505 - Clinical Nutrition

Non-Course Teaching Responsibilities

PhD supervision:

Miss Ashley Ward

Miss Verena Schmidt

MSc supervision and BSc supervision



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