Professor Alexandra Johnstone

Professor Alexandra Johnstone
Professor Alexandra Johnstone

Professor Alexandra Johnstone

BSc, MSc, PhD, PGCE, RNutr

Personal Chair


Room 4.054, The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill Health Campus, Ashgrove Road West, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD


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 Overview

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.

Funding and 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


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  • Hemp and Buckwheat are valuable sources of dietary amino acids, beneficially modulating gastrointestinal hormones and promoting satiety in healthy volunteers

    Neacsu, M., Russell, W., Johnstone, A., Duncan, G., Fyfe, C., Multari, S., Anderson, S., Horgan, G., Cantlay, L., Scobbie, L., Vaughan, N.
    European Journal of Nutrition
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Salivary ghrelin response to drinks varying in protein content and quantity and association with energy intake and appetite.  

    Crabtree, D., Johnstone, A., Fyfe, C., Horgan, G., Buosi, W.
    Physiology and Behavior
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Circadian rhythms in resting metabolic rate account for apparent daily rhythms in thermic effect of food

    Ruddick-Collins, L., Flanagan, A., Johnston, J. D., Morgan, P., Johnstone, A.
    Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Associations between ghrelin and leptin and neural food cue reactivity in a fasted and sated state

    Wever, M. C., van Meer, F., Charbonnier, L., Crabtree, D. R., Buosi, W., Giannopoulou, A., Androutsos, O., Johnstone, A. M., Manios, Y., Meek, C. L., Holst, J. J., Smeets, P. A., Full4Health consortium
    Neuroimage, 118374
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Hot Topic workshop report: Reshaping the food environment – Applying interdisciplinary perspectives in appetite research

    Johnstone, A., Brown, A.
    Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 216-217
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Appetite Control Across the Lifecourse: The Acute Impact of Breakfast Drink Quantity and Protein Content. The Full4Health Project

    Crabtree, D. R., Buosi, W., Fyfe, C. L., Horgan, G. W., Manios, Y., Androutsos, O., Giannopoulou, A., Finlayson, G., Beaulieu, K., Meek, C. L., Holst, J. J., Van Norren, K., Mercer, J. G., Johnstone, A. M.
    Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 12, 3710
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • The public health rationale for promoting plant protein as an important part of a sustainable and healthy diet

    Lonnie, M., Johnstone, A. M.
    Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 281-293
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • How are you?: Introducing stress-based text tailoring

    Balloccu, S., Reiter, E., Johnstone, A., Fyfe, C.
    Contributions to Conferences: Papers
  • 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

    Green, M. A., Watson, A. W., Brunstrom, J. M., Corfe, B. M., Johnstone, A., Williams, E. A., Stevenson, E. J.
    Nutrition Journal, vol. 19, 83
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Mealtime: A circadian disruptor and determinant of energy balance?

    Ruddick-Collins, L. C., Morgan, P. J., Johnstone, A. M.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 32, no. 7, e12886
    Contributions to Journals: Articles


Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Conferences

Contributions to Journals