Dorota Cieslak-Jones 
+44 (0)20 7594 2739 
+44 (0)20 7594 2245

What we do

Our research group focuses on exploring the relationship between food and health. The nutrition, food and health theme focuses on the promotion of good health through food and nutrition and the primary prevention and management of nutrition-related illness in the population. The group work centres on what is often seen as intractable problems such as the dietary prevention of non-communicable diseases. To achieve this, we develop new tools and ask very basic questions. For example, we have programmes around developing new tools for dietary analysis. Understanding accurately what people eat in their home environment is very difficult, and the miss reporting is very high. Together with colleagues in the Nutrition research group, Elaine Holmes and Isabel Garcia Perez, we have developed metabolomic tools that improve the accuracy of dietary assessment. Also, in collaboration with Dr Benny Lo at the Hamlyn Centre, we have developed micro-camera technology coupled with AI that gives a new passive dietary assessment method. The first organ that food enter is the gastrointestinal tract. Food and the digestive products of food influence endocrine and neurological signals that affect whole body physiology. My research team have developed new techniques to explore this interaction across the length of the gastrointestinal tract.

The vision of the nutrition, food and health research programme is to improve global health through a new understanding of how food interacts with metabolism. With the work of Dr Isabel Garcia Perez, we have a major interest in personalised nutrition, understanding why different people respond to the same diet in different ways and what this means to their risk of disease.

The research group has an international reputation for its work on dietary carbohydrates and their impact on physiology. Recently we have also demonstrated the impact of genetic fault in the starch assembly in peas has a dramatic effect on glucose homeostasis. In our collaboration with Dr Douglas Morrison at the University of Glasgow, we were the first to demonstrate the impact of colonic propionate (a product made by the colonic microbiota) on energy homeostasis and prevention of weight gain.

Our work on carbohydrates has led to a long-term collaboration with Prof Kath Maitland's investigation on how to reduce morbidity and mortality in children with severe malnutrition. We have been investigating the impact of feeds that are enriched with dietary fibre from local sources. The idea is to improve gastrointestinal function and reduce morbidity and mortality through gut-derived sepsis. We also have a major interest in understanding systems that will lead to the prevention of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease in developing counties


Non-communicable diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer are major causes of morbidity and morality globally, yet the prevalence of these diseases continues to rise. The risk of developing non communicable disease is increased by poor lifestyle, particularly diet. However, this risk varies between individuals, one of the aims of our research group is to understand this.

UK Obesity rates are the highest in Europe, with more than 60% of the population overweight or obese. If trends continue 40% of the UK population will be obese by 2025 and this creates a huge burden on the NHS as obesity-related conditions currently cost the NHS on average £5bn a year. Many interventions deployed by health systems have failed to improve healthy behaviour in a sustained way over the life cycle. The vast majority failed to account for the individual genotype specificities and biological environmental factors. Few attempts have been made to systematically link and triangulate different sources of biological, socioeconomic, and behavioural data to look at the overall processes and simultaneously for the interplay of genetic, epigenetic, psychological, behavioural, socio-economic and long-term consequences of an intervention on nutrition and metabolic health.

In order for basic biological research into nutrition to be used to maintain and improve health and wellbeing, it is key to understand how food and nutrition interplay with physiology, preferences, psychology, socio-economic variables, behaviour and policy interventions. Research in the social and behavioural sciences has not yet, for example fully engaged with the so-called ‘epigenetics revolution’ in biology, that is, the growing evidence that differences in genetically identical individuals may be explained by epigenetic alterations in DNA and its accompanying proteins.


The research we carry out has a direct effect on patient care or public health. Most of our work is aimed at the prevention of disease, so understanding mechanisms that lead to increased risk of disease and then investigating how to prevent this. 

Leveraging the interdisciplinary research at Imperial College we undertake high-quality multidisciplinary research at the interface between the social and biological sciences, to develop sustainable strategies fully embedded in the healthcare ecosystem to fight the obesity epidemic, promote the wellbeing of the population, mitigate its impact on the economy including on the financial sustainability of health systems.

  1. The role of propionate in the prevention of weight gain in young adults
  2. Management of obesity
  3. New methods of dietary assessment
  4. Development of tools to understand individual variations in diet
  5. The relationship between food, gastrointestinal physiology and metabolic disease
  6. The development and use of human gastrointestinal models including organoids and gut on a chip to understand the mechanistic relationship between food and the gastrointestinal tract
  7. Nutritional management of severe malnutrition in developing countries
  8. Nutrition Sensing and ageing


Funders and industry links


  • Prof Elaine Holmes
  • Prof Kath Maitland
  • Prof Julian Marchesi
  • Dr Isabel Garcia
  • Dr Joram Posma
  • Dr Benny Lo
  • Dr Douglas Morrison
  • Prof Pete Wild
  • Dr Cathrina Edwards
  • Dr Fred Warren
  • Prof John Mathers

Our researchers