After a short spell in London at the Department of health after I completed my PhD I went to work at the BBSRC Institute of Food Research (IFR) in Norwich where I became a head of the Physical Biochemistry Group in 1999. In 2005 I took over the leadership of the food material science research at IFR and working with four other research leaders developed a new programme of research relating food structure to health benefits of foods. This took the largely physical sciences knowledge base derived from food behaviour during food processing in a factory environment and applying it to understanding environmental responsiveness of foods during digestion in the biological-processing environment of the gastrointestinal tract. Specifically the programme sought to gain an understanding the rules governing the assembly of natural and fabricated food structures (including nano-scale structures), their subsequent disassembly during digestion and uptake by the gut epithelium. This has also involved promoting a transdisciplinary approach, linking physical scientists with physiologists, clinicians and psychologists to achieve its overall aims and goals. In my capacity as a BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Grant leader I was also a member of the IFR Executive Board.
In 2011 I moved to the University of Manchester to take up my current position. Based in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and working with the Respiratory and Allergy Research team at the University Hospital of South Manchester led by Professor Adnan Custovic, I am now applying my molecular science to understand, better diagnose and treat food allergies. This research stems from work I have done through a series of projects funded across several EU Frame Work Programmes. Through these projects I developed a network of researchers that put forward the expression of interest on food allergy which subsequently the consortium applied for, and won, and came on to become the EuroPrevall project. Spanning 17 countries, including India, China, Russia and Ghana, it had 63 partners spanning clinical science, epidemiology, social science, biochemical and immunological sciences, academia and industry. After moving to the University of Manchester I formed a further partnership which won the €9M, 38 partner, iFAAM project. This seeks to exploit much of the knowledge gained in EuroPrevall to develop tools and approaches to enable more effective management of food allergies. Future efforts will be focused on realising the potential of the data and biological samples (including DNA) collected in EuroPrevall and followed up in iFAAM to understand the basis of food allergies and deliver more effective management strategies. These two projects represent the largest block of funding ever awarded for food allergy.
BSc Hons in Biochemistry (University of Bristol, UK)
PhD Biochemistry (University of Kent at Canterbury, UK)
Memberships of committees and professional bodies
2005-2010 EFSA Self-task Food Allergy working group of the GMO panel
2006-present Food Standards Agency Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes
2008-2012 BBSRC DRINC Steering Group
2009-2011 BBSRC Committee C Core Panel Member