Dr Jana Anderson
- Research Fellow (Public Health)
Research background and experience
I work as a research fellow within the Public Health research group in the Institute of Health & Wellbeing. I built my experience and skills on the varied portfolio of research projects I completed in the past. After choosing zoology for my undergraduate studies, I switched to Medical Parasitology for my master’s degree. This was followed by the 4-year Wellcome Trust-funded PhD in Molecular functions in disease, where I studied parasitic DNA sequences in human DNA that are implicated in certain cancers.
My experience up until then was mostly field and/or laboratory-based, first focused on animal behaviour, then ecology and epidemiology of zoonotic diseases followed by biochemical parasitology that included research on biochemical structure of proteins, enzymatic pathways and metabolic pathways leading to epigenetic control of protein expression and silencing.
It was the significant involvement of epigenetics in many diseases (including metabolic, immunological, cancer and psychiatric diseases) that steered my interest to health, its risk factors and ill-health prevention.
Current research interests
Following from my PhD project, I learned that the varied epigenetic modifications could be altered by diet, stress, exercise, lifestyle, and exposure to certain environmental stimuli and can have lasting effects on health of not only the individuals involved but also their offsprings. These modifications often occur early before the start of the disease and are potentially reversible.
So after my PhD, I began my work in public health to study if and how much could ill health be prevented by positive changes within our lifestyle and environment, how much can these protect us against or slow down disease development, whether this is via epigenetic modifications or other mechanisms. I chose to focus on diet and related risk factors and its link to health and chronic disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and diet-related cancers using mostly nutritional epidemiology research methods to look at data population-size datasets.
Sustainable protein sources
Because of my zoology and ecology background, I am also very interested in sustainability of our healthy diet and understanding what dietary choices are sustainable to our environment, as well as the impact our dietary choices and preferences have on waste production and climate change.
For example, for a well-nourished adult, we know that decreasing the amount of red meat (especially beef and lamb) and treating it as a luxury rather then staple, would drastically reduce the impact of their food on the environment as well as protect their health. People are concerned about transport, flight carbon footprint etc, but adapting our diet to plant-based sources is easy to achieve and needs to happen now.
Agriculture is the single highest driver of climate and environmental change and is behind as much as 30% global greenhouse gas emissions with red meat and other animal products responsible for more than half of these. This is despite providing only a fifth of the calories we eat and drink. By opting for the traditional Sunday roast, and choosing food that is plant, poultry and fish-based for the rest of the week, we can feed the expanding human population and strictly protect the environment and the biodiversity that we deeply depend on to survive both for us and for our future generations.
BBSRC Agri-Food Technology Seeding Catalyst: Feasibility study of Eisenia foetida as a direct or indirect food source (£5,770)
Link between diet and chronic disease including cardiometabolic, obesity, diabetes and cancer
Main data source: UK Biobank
Sustainable protein sources
Impact of our diet on environment, waste connected with food production
Systematic reviews of sustainable protein sources
Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.
- Nutrition Related Foetal Programming and Mental Health Outcomes in Offspring: a Social Perspective
British Dietetic Association
2019 - 2021