I have obtained my MSc in Human Nutrition from the University of Vienna, Austria (2002) and my PhD in Food Toxicology from the University of Kuopio, Finland (2007). I have joined the Rowett Institute as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and am now a Principal Investigator in the Gut Health group.
Impact of diet on intestinal metabolism and gut toxicity
There is strong evidence that our diet influences the healthy function of our intestinal tract. Besides the healthy nutrients, some toxins and carcinogens may also be present in the food we eat and additional toxic compounds can be formed or released by intestinal microbiota.
In my research group we look at how carcinogenic compounds are formed in the gut following high consumption of red meat, and how dietary fibre and Vitamin C can prevent their formation.
Furthermore we study mycotoxins, which are toxins produced by some specific moulds growing on agricultural crops. We assess the levels of mycotoxins in foods and human exposure to these dietary toxins.
This work directly benefits consumers by providing evidence on healthy and safe diets. Read more here
I am currently accepting PhDs in Nutrition and Health, Biomedical Sciences.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.
Nutrition and HealthAccepting PhDs
Biomedical SciencesAccepting PhDs
My research investigates the role of the gut microbiota and microbial metabolites derived from dietary components on the health and function of the intestinal epithelium.
In one project we study the role of gut microbiota in the degradation of masked mycotoxins and the detoxification of mycotoxins. This activity of microbiota is important as it releases additional bound mycotoxins into the large intestine. Furthermore we assess human exposure to mycotoxins using urinary mycotoxin excretion as biomarker in humans.
Another project assesses the effect of diet composition on microbial metabolites derived from carbohydrate and protein metabolism (e.g. butyrate, ammonia, nitrosamines) and their effects on the intestine. In human intervention studies our volunteers consume diets with different levels of carbohydrate, protein and meat and we measure microbial metabolites in human faecal samples.
Ms Margaret-Jane Gordon – Research Assistant
Ms Noshin Daud – PhD student (Elphinstone scholarship)
Mr Edward Devlin – PhD student
Funding and Grants
- Probi AB funded research project (2021-2023): Investigating new candidate probiotic strains. Scott & Gratz (Co-I).
- NC3Rs funded PhD studentship grant (2019-2022): Modelling Candida albicans infection of the human gut using human intestinal organoid cultures. Gratz (PI), MacCallum, Munro.
- TENOVUS funded research grant (2018-2021): Application of human intestinal organoids to study food-derived risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease. Gratz.
- MRC funded research grant (2019-2020): Mycotoxin exposure, intestinal inflammation and childhood stunting in India. Gratz (PI), Kyle, Poobalan, DeRoos.
- Interface Multiparty funded research grant (2019-2020): Investigating the risk of mycotoxin contamination as an emerging issue for Scottish oat production. Gratz.
- Probi AB funded research project (2017-2020): Isolation of gut bacteria. Scott & Gratz (Co-I).
- Scottish Government themed programme (2016–2021). Gratz.
- Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance funded Early career X-change grant (2016). Molecular mechanisms of mycotoxin toxicity towards intestinal cell systems. Gratz.
- DEFRA Food Standards Agency funded research grant (2014-2015): Evaluation of masked mycotoxins in foods and their release and uptake in the gut. Gratz. Joint with FERA ltd, York, UK.
- Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board funded PhD studentship grant (2013-2016): Application of association mapping and genomic sequencing to starch and GI in potato. Joint with The James Hutton Institute, Dundee, UK.
- EU FP7 collaborative project SATIN - Satiety Innovation (2012–2016).
- Scottish Government themed programme (2011–2016).
Course coordinator for MSc courses
- Clinical Nutrition, 2018-present
- Foundations of Human Nutrition, 2016-2018
Lecturing in several courses within the MSc Programme Human Nutrition
Tutor in Research Skills for Medical Sciences (BSc)
Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
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Gut microbiota metabolise food-derived mycotoxinsProceedings of the Nutrition Society, vol. 80, no. OCE2, 57Contributions to Journals: Abstracts
Prevalent Human Gut Bacteria Hydrolyse and Metabolise Important Food-Derived Mycotoxins and Masked MycotoxinsToxins, vol. 12, no. 10, 654Contributions to Journals: Articles
Nondigestible Carbohydrates Affect Metabolic Health and Gut Microbiota in Overweight Adults after Weight LossThe Journal of Nutrition, vol. 150, no. 7, pp. 1859-1870Contributions to Journals: Articles
Intestinal hydrolysis and microbial biotransformation of diacetoxyscirpenol-α-glucoside, HT-2-β-glucoside and N-(1-deoxy-d-fructos-1-yl) fumonisin B1 by human gut microbiota in vitroInternational Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, vol. 71, no. 5, pp. 540-548Contributions to Journals: Articles
Multi-mycotoxin exposure assessment in UK children using urinary biomarkers - a pilot surveyJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 351-357Contributions to Journals: Articles
Genoprotective Effects of Essential Oil Compounds Against Oxidative and Methylated DNA Damage in Human Colon Cancer CellsJournal of Food Science, vol. 84, no. 7, pp. 1979-1985Contributions to Journals: Articles
Dietary carbohydrate rather than protein intake drives colonic microbial fermentation during weight lossEuropean Journal of Nutrition, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 1147-1158Contributions to Journals: Articles
Porcine small and large intestinal microbiota rapidly hydrolyze the masked mycotoxin deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside and release deoxynivalenol in spiked batch cultures in vitroApplied and Environmental Microbiology, vol. 84, no. 2, pp. 1-9Contributions to Journals: Articles
Masked trichothecene and zearalenone mycotoxins withstand digestion and absorption in the upper GI tract but are efficiently hydrolyzed by human gut microbiota in vitroMolecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol. 61, no. 4, 1600680Contributions to Journals: Articles
Do Plant-Bound Masked Mycotoxins Contribute to Toxicity?Toxins, vol. 9, no. 3, 85Contributions to Journals: Review articles