J J Strain

University of Ulster, Aontroim, N Ireland, United Kingdom

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Publications (278)954.39 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Nutrition plays a fundamental role in supporting the structural and functional development of the human brain from conception, throughout early infancy and extending into later life. A growing body of evidence suggests that folate and the metabolically related B-vitamins are essential for brain health across all age groups, owing to their specific roles in C1 metabolism and particularly in the production of S-adenosylmethionine, a universal methyl donor essential for the production of neurotransmitters. Emerging, though not entirely consistent, evidence suggests that maternal folate status throughout pregnancy may influence neurodevelopment and behaviour of the offspring. Furthermore optimal B-vitamin status is associated with better cognitive health in ageing. Of note, a recent clinical trial provided evidence that supplementation with folic acid and related B-vitamins over a 2-year-period reduced global and regional brain atrophy, as measured by MRI scan in older adults. In terms of potential mechanisms, the effects of these B-vitamins on cognitive health may be independent or may be mediated by nutrient-nutrient and/or relevant gene-nutrient interactions. Furthermore, a new area of research suggests that the in utero environment influences health in later life. Folate, an important cofactor in C1 metabolism, is indirectly involved in DNA methylation, which in turn is considered to be one of the epigenetic mechanisms that may underlie fetal programming and brain development. The present review will explore the evidence that supports a role for folate and the related B-vitamins in brain health across the lifecycle, and potential mechanisms to explain such effects.
    The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Osteoporosis, a metabolic skeletal disease characterised by decreased bone mass and increased fracture risk, is a growing public health problem. Among the various risk factors for osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D have well-established protective roles, but it is likely that other nutritional factors are also implicated. This review will explore the emerging evidence supporting a role for certain B-vitamins, homocysteine and the 677C→T polymorphism in the gene encoding the folate-metabolising enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, in bone health and disease. The evidence, however, is not entirely consistent and as yet no clear mechanism has been defined to explain the potential link between B-vitamins and bone health. Coeliac disease, a common condition of malabsorption, induced by gluten ingestion in genetically susceptible individuals, is associated with an increased risk both of osteoporosis and inadequate B-vitamin status. Given the growing body of evidence linking low bone mineral density and/or increased fracture risk with low B-vitamin status and elevated homocysteine, optimal B-vitamin status may play an important protective role against osteoporosis in coeliac disease; to date, no trial has addressed this possible link.
    Proceedings of The Nutrition Society 02/2014; · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context: Inadequate vitamin D status is common within elderly populations and may be implicated in the etiology of autoimmune disease and inflammation. Few studies have investigated the relationship between vitamin D status and age-related immune dysfunction in humans. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between vitamin D status and immune markers of inflammation in a large sample of older adults. Design, Setting, and Participants: An observational investigation of 957 Irish adults (>60 years of age) recruited in Northern Ireland (55°N latitude) as part of the Trinity Ulster Department of Agriculture aging cohort study. Main Outcome Measure: We measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and serum cytokines IL-6, TNF-α, IL-10, and C-reactive protein (CRP) by ELISA. Results: Concentrations of IL-6, CRP, and the ratios of IL-6 to IL-10 and CRP to IL-10 were significantly higher in individuals with deficient (<25 nmol/L) serum 25(OH)D compared with those with sufficient (>75 nmol/L) status after adjustment for age, sex, and body mass index (P < .05). Vitamin D status was a significant predictor of the IL-6 to IL-10 cytokine ratio, and those participants defined as deficient were significantly more likely to have an IL-6 to IL-10 ratio >2:1 compared with those defined as sufficient. Conclusions: This study demonstrated significant associations between low vitamin D status and markers of inflammation (including the ratio of IL-6 to IL-10) within elderly adults. These findings suggest that an adequate vitamin D status may be required for optimal immune function, particularly within the older adult population.
    The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 02/2014; · 6.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This 24-mo randomized, double-blind, controlled trial aimed to examine whether supplementation with a natural marine-derived multi-mineral supplement rich in calcium (Ca) taken alone and in conjunction with short-chain fructo-oligosaccharide (scFOSs) has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density (BMD) and bone turnover markers (BTMs) in postmenopausal women. A total of 300 non-osteoporotic postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to daily supplements of 800 mg of Ca, 800 mg of Ca with 3.6 g of scFOS (CaFOS), or 9 g of maltodextrin. BMD was measured before and after intervention along with BTMs, which were also measured at 12 mo. Intention-to-treat ANCOVA identified that the change in BMD in the Ca and CaFOS groups did not differ from that in the maltodextrin group. Secondary analysis of changes to BTMs over time identified a greater decline in osteocalcin and C-telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX) in the Ca group compared with the maltodextrin group at 12 mo. A greater decline in CTX was observed at 12 mo and a greater decline in osteocalcin was observed at 24 mo in the CaFOS group compared with the maltodextrin group. In exploratory subanalyses of each treatment group against the maltodextrin group, women classified with osteopenia and taking CaFOS had a smaller decline in total-body (P = 0.03) and spinal (P = 0.03) BMD compared with the maltodextrin group, although this effect was restricted to those with higher total-body and mean spinal BMD at baseline, respectively. Although the change in BMD observed did not differ between the groups, the greater decline in BTMs in the Ca and CaFOS groups compared with the maltodextrin group suggests a more favorable bone health profile after supplementation with Ca and CaFOS. Supplementation with CaFOS slowed the rate of total-body and spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteopenia-an effect that warrants additional investigation. This trial was registered at www.controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN63118444.
    Journal of Nutrition 01/2014; · 4.20 Impact Factor
  • Irish Journal of Medical Science 01/2014; 160(5). · 0.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Epidemiologic studies have been inconclusive regarding the impact of co-exposure to long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and methyl mercury (MeHg) from fish consumption during pregnancy on measures of fetal development. Objectives We evaluated the association between birth weight and prenatal maternal LCPUFA status and MeHg exposure in the Republic of Seychelles. Methods We measured LCPUFA in maternal whole blood collected at 28 weeks of gestation and following delivery, and MeHg in maternal hair obtained at delivery. There were 230 births with complete data on birth weight and covariates. Multiple linear regression models controlled for infant sex, gestational age, maternal age, smoking during pregnancy, intrapartum weight gain, pre-pregnancy body mass index, maternal socioeconomic status, parity, gestational diabetes, and alcohol use during pregnancy. Results The average birth weight was 3,252 g (range 1654-4450) and the average gestational age was 39 weeks (range 34-41). Prenatal MeHg exposure and maternal LCPUFA status were not associated with birth weight. Infant sex and length of gestation were the only predictors, with male sex and increased gestational age consistently associated with greater birth weight. Conclusions These findings do not support a relationship between prenatal exposure to LCPUFA and/or MeHg from fish consumption and birth weight.
    Annals of epidemiology 01/2014; · 2.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a critical folate-metabolising enzyme which requires riboflavin as its co-factor. A common polymorphism (677C→T) in the MTHFR gene results in reduced MTHFR activity in vivo which in turn leads to impaired folate metabolism and elevated homocysteine concentrations. Homozygosity for this polymorphism (TT genotype) is associated with an increased risk of a number of conditions including heart disease and stroke, but there is considerable variability in the extent of excess risk in various reports. The present review will explore the evidence which supports a role for this polymorphism as a risk factor for a number of adverse health outcomes, and the potential modulating roles for B-vitamins in alleviating disease risk. The evidence is convincing in the case which links this polymorphism with hypertension and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, particularly preeclampsia. Furthermore, elevated blood pressure was found to be highly responsive to riboflavin intervention specifically in individuals with the MTHFR 677TT genotype. Future intervention studies targeted at these genetically predisposed individuals are required to further investigate this novel gene-nutrient interaction. This polymorphism has also been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects (NTD) and other adverse pregnancy outcomes; however, the evidence in this area has been inconsistent. Preliminary evidence has suggested that there may be a much greater need for women with the MTHFR 677TT genotype to adhere to the specific recommendation of commencing folic acid prior to conception for the prevention of NTD, but this requires further investigation.
    Proceedings of The Nutrition Society 10/2013; · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Limited human data are available to assess the association between prenatal mercury vapor (Hg(0)) exposure from maternal dental amalgam restorations and neurodevelopment of children. We evaluated the association between maternal dental amalgam status during gestation and children's neurodevelopmental outcomes at 5 years in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study (SCDNS). Maternal amalgam status was determined prospectively in a longitudinal cohort study examining the associations of prenatal exposure to nutrients and methylmercury (MeHg) with neurodevelopment. A total of 236 mother-child pairs initially enrolled in the SCDNS in 2001 were eligible to participate. Maternal amalgam status was measured as number of amalgam surfaces (the primary metric) and number of occlusal points. The neurodevelopmental assessment battery was comprised of age-appropriate tests of cognitive, language, and perceptual functions, and scholastic achievement. Linear regression analysis controlled for MeHg exposure, maternal fatty acid status, and other covariates relevant to child development. Maternal amalgam status evaluation yielded an average of 7.0 surfaces (range 0-28) and 11.0 occlusal points (range 0-40) during pregnancy. Neither the number of maternal amalgam surfaces nor occlusal points were associated with any outcome. Our findings do not provide evidence to support a relationship between prenatal exposure to Hg(0) from maternal dental amalgam and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children at 5 years of age.
    Neurotoxicology and Teratology 07/2013; · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In developing countries, schoolchildren encounter a number of challenges, including failure to complete school, poor health and nutrition, and poor academic performance. Implementation of school feeding programs (SFPs) in less developed countries is increasing and yet there is mixed evidence regarding their positive effects on nutrition, education, and cognition at the population level. This study evaluated cognitive and anthropometric outcomes in entry-level primary school children in Malawi with the aim of generating evidence for the ongoing debate about SFPs in Malawi and other developing countries. A total of 226 schoolchildren aged 6-8 y in 2 rural Malawian public primary schools were followed for one school year. Children attending one school (SFP school) received a daily ration of corn-soy blend porridge, while those attending the other (non-SFP school) did not. Baseline and post-baseline outcomes included the Cambridge Neurological Test Automated Battery cognitive tests of paired associate learning, rapid visual information processing and intra-extra dimensional shift, and anthropometric measurements of weight, height, and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). At follow-up, the SFP subcohort had a greater reduction than the non-SFP subcohort in the number of intra-extra predimensional shift errors made (mean 18.5 and 24.9, respectively; P-interaction = 0.02) and also showed an increase in MUAC (from 16.3 to 17.0; P-interaction <0.0001). The results indicate that the SFP in Malawi is associated with an improvement in reversal learning and catch-up growth in lean muscle mass in children in the SFP school compared with children in the non-SFP school. These findings suggest that the Malawian SFP, if well managed and ration sizes are sustained, may have the potential to improve nutritional and cognitive indicators of the most disadvantaged children.
    Journal of Nutrition 06/2013; · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Fish are important sources of protein and contain a variety of nutrients, such as n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), essential for normal brain development. Nevertheless, all fish also contain methyl mercury (MeHg), a known neurotoxicant in adequate dosage. Our studies of the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) Main Cohort enrolled in 1989-1990 (n=779) have found no consistent pattern of adverse MeHg effects at exposures achieved by daily fish consumption. Rather, we have observed evidence of improved performance on some cognitive endpoints as prenatal MeHg exposure increases in the range studied. These observations cannot be related to MeHg and may reflect the role of unmeasured covariates such as essential nutrients present in fish. To determine if these associations persist into young adulthood, we examined the relationship between prenatal MeHg exposure, recent PUFA exposure and subjects' neurodevelopment and behavior at 19 years of age. METHODS: We examined 533 participants using the following test battery: the Profile of Mood States-Bipolar (POMS-Bi); Finger Tapping; Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT); measures of Fine Motor Control and Complex Perceptual Motor Control; and Visual Spatial Contrast Sensitivity. We collected the following covariates: maternal IQ, family life course stressors, socioeconomic status, and subjects' recent postnatal MeHg, sex, and computer use. Primary analyses (based on N=392-475) examined covariate-adjusted associations in multiple linear regression models with prenatal MeHg as the primary exposure measure. Secondary analyses additionally adjusted for total n-6 and fish-related n-3 PUFA measured in the subjects serum at the 19-year examination. RESULTS: Study participants had a mean prenatal MeHg exposure of 6.9 ppm, and a mean recent postnatal exposure of 10.3 ppm. There were no adverse associations between prenatal MeHg and any of the measured endpoints. For recent postnatal MeHg exposure, however, adverse associations were observed for Finger Tapping (non-dominant hand) among women and for the K-BIT matrices for both sexes, with or without adjustment for PUFA. CONCLUSION: Our findings continue to provide no evidence for an adverse effect of prenatal MeHg exposure on development in a cohort that consumes fish daily. Observations for postnatal MeHg exposure will need to be confirmed using more comprehensive exposure measures.
    Neurotoxicology and Teratology 06/2013; · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intervention with riboflavin was recently shown to produce genotype-specific lowering of blood pressure (BP) in patients with premature cardiovascular disease homozygous for the 677C→T polymorphism (TT genotype) in the gene encoding the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Whether this effect is confined to patients with high-risk cardiovascular disease is unknown. The aim of this randomized trial, therefore, was to investigate the responsiveness of BP to riboflavin supplementation in hypertensive individuals with the TT genotype but without overt cardiovascular disease. From an available sample of 1427 patients with hypertension, we identified 157 with the MTHFR 677TT genotype, 91 of whom agreed to participate in the trial. Participants were stratified by systolic BP and randomized to receive placebo or riboflavin (1.6 mg/d) for 16 weeks. At baseline, despite being prescribed multiple classes of antihypertensive drugs, >60% of participants with this genotype had failed to reach goal BP (≤140/90 mm Hg). A significant improvement in the biomarker status of riboflavin was observed in response to intervention (P<0.001). Correspondingly, an overall treatment effect of 5.6±2.6 mm Hg (P=0.033) in systolic BP was observed, with pre- and postintervention values of 141.8±2.9 and 137.1±3.0 mm Hg (treatment group) and 143.5±3.0 and 144.3±3.1 mm Hg (placebo group), whereas the treatment effect in diastolic BP was not significant (P=0.291). In conclusion, these results show that riboflavin supplementation targeted at hypertensive individuals with the MTHFR 677TT genotype can decrease BP more effectively than treatment with current antihypertensive drugs only and indicate the potential for a personalized approach to the management of hypertension in this genetically at-risk group.Clinical Trial Registration-URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: ISRCTN23620802.
    Hypertension 04/2013; · 6.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Choline is an essential nutrient that is found in many food sources and plays a critical role in the development of the central nervous system. Animal studies have shown that choline status pre- and postnatally can have long-lasting effects on attention and memory; however, effects in human subjects have not been well studied. The aim of the present study was to examine the association between plasma concentrations of free choline and its related metabolites in children and their neurodevelopment in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study, an ongoing longitudinal study assessing the development of children born to mothers with high fish consumption during pregnancy. Plasma concentrations of free choline, betaine, dimethylglycine (DMG), methionine and homocysteine and specific measures of neurodevelopment were measured in 210 children aged 5 years. The children's plasma free choline concentration (9·17 (sd 2·09) μmol/l) was moderately, but significantly, correlated with betaine (r 0·24; P= 0·0006), DMG (r 0·15; P= 0·03), methionine (r 0·24; P= 0·0005) and homocysteine (r 0·19; P= 0·006) concentrations. Adjusted multiple linear regression revealed that betaine concentrations were positively associated with Preschool Language Scale - total language scores (β = 0·066; P= 0·04), but no other associations were evident. We found no indication that free choline concentration or its metabolites, within the normal physiological range, are associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in children at 5 years of age. As there is considerable animal evidence suggesting that choline status during development is associated with cognitive outcome, the issue deserves further study in other cohorts.
    The British journal of nutrition 01/2013; · 3.45 Impact Factor
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    Proceedings of The Nutrition Society 01/2013; 72(OCE2). · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    Proceedings of The Nutrition Society 01/2013; 72(OCE4). · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    Proceedings of The Nutrition Society 01/2013; 72(OCE2). · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    Proceedings of The Nutrition Society 01/2013; 72(OCE3). · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In most countries, the dietary folate intake associated with adequate status of red cell folate and/or serum folate provides the basis for formulating reference values. One of the major challenges in setting dietary reference values for folate, however, is the need to account for the differences in bioavailability between the natural forms of the vitamin and the synthetic form, folic acid, albeit to date, few countries in Europe take bioavailability into consideration. A series of systematic reviews that included only those studies which used the most robust measures of both folate intake and folate status were carried out by the EURRECA Network of Excellence to examine the relationships between folate intake, status, and a number of health outcomes relevant to specific stages of the lifecycle. This review summarizes the available evidence and the issues to consider in the setting of dietary reference values for folate.
    Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 01/2013; 53(10):1041-50. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Low folate status is a risk factor for colon carcinogenesis; mechanisms proposed to account for this relationship include uracil misincorporation into DNA and global DNA hypomethylation. We investigated whether such biomarkers are related to folate status in isolated colonocytes from colonoscopy patients. In cases with adenomatous polyps (n = 40) or hyperplastic polyps (n = 16), colonocytes were isolated from biopsies from the polyp, from a site adjacent to the polyp, and from normal mucosa 10-15 cm distal to the polyp. In polyp-free controls (n = 53), biopsies were taken from ascending, transverse, and descending areas of colon. Within adenoma cases, there was a trend (P-trend < 0.001) of decreasing colonocyte folate (pg/10(5) cells, mean ± CI) from the site distal to the polyp (16.9 ± 2.4), to the site adjacent to the polyp (14.7 ± 2.3), to the polyp (12.8 ± 2.0). Correspondingly, there were increases in uracil misincorporation (P-trend < 0.001) and global DNA hypomethylation (P-trend = 0.012) across the 3 sites. Colonocyte folate concentrations were significantly correlated with RBC folate concentrations, but only in individuals with generally lower (≤484 μg/L) RBC folate status (r = 0.54; P = 0.006; n = 24), and were also significantly lower in normal mucosa of cases with adenomatous polyps than in controls matched for colonic segment. In conclusion, localized folate deficiency in specific areas of colon might create carcinogenic fields and affect the development of colorectal polyps through uracil misincorporation and DNA hypomethylation; alternatively, the polyp itself might deplete folate in the surrounding tissue. Folate supplementation trials aimed at colon cancer prevention should target individuals with suboptimal folate status.
    Journal of Nutrition 11/2012; · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Entry-level Malawian children (n = 226) aged 6-8 years from two public primary schools, one a participant in a national school feeding programme (FP), the other not, were investigated for differences in nutritional and cognitive status. Stunted growth (42%) and underweight (25%) were prevalent, with no significant differences between the schools, although the school attended was a significant predictor of mid-upper arm circumference. Previous attendance at a community-based childcare centre was significantly associated with lower body weight and height. There were no significant differences in memory, reversal learning and attention outcomes between the schools. These findings report no major significant difference in nutrition or cognitive statuses between the schools, and on this basis suggest that both schools were equally in need of FP participation. More inclusive interventions and broadening/review of FP participation criteria are recommended.
    International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 11/2012; · 1.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Dental amalgam is approximately 50% metallic mercury and releases mercury vapor into the oral cavity, where it is inhaled and absorbed. Maternal amalgams expose the developing fetus to mercury vapor. Mercury vapor can be toxic, but uncertainty remains whether prenatal amalgam exposure is associated with neurodevelopmental consequences in offspring. OBJECTIVE: To determine if prenatal mercury vapor exposure from maternal dental amalgam is associated with adverse effects to cognition and development in children. METHODS: We prospectively determined dental amalgam status in a cohort of 300 pregnant women recruited in 2001 in the Republic of Seychelles to study the risks and benefits of fish consumption. The primary exposure measure was maternal amalgam surfaces present during gestation. Maternal occlusal points were a secondary measure. Outcomes were the child's mental (MDI) and psychomotor (PDI) developmental indices of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II (BSID-II) administered at 9 and 30 months. Complete exposure, outcome, and covariate data were available on a subset of 242 mother-child pairs. RESULTS: The number of amalgam surfaces was not significantly (p>0.05) associated with either PDI or MDI scores. Similarly, secondary analysis with occlusal points showed no effect on the PDI or MDI scores for boys and girls combined. However, secondary analysis of the 9-month MDI was suggestive of an adverse association present only in girls. CONCLUSION: We found no evidence of an association between our primary exposure metric, amalgam surfaces, and neurodevelopmental endpoints. Secondary analyses using occlusal points supported these findings, but suggested the possibility of an adverse association with the MDI for girls at 9 months. Given the continued widespread use of dental amalgam, we believe additional prospective studies to clarify this issue are a priority.
    NeuroToxicology 10/2012; · 2.65 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

9k Citations
954.39 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1988–2014
    • University of Ulster
      • • Northern Ireland Centre for Food & Health (NICHE)
      • • Centre for Molecular Biosciences
      • • School of Biomedical Sciences
      • • Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
      Aontroim, N Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 2003–2013
    • University of Rochester
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      • • Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology
      • • Department of Environmental Medicine
      Rochester, New York, United States
  • 2001–2012
    • University College Cork
      • School of Food and Nutritional Sciences
      Cork, M, Ireland
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Nutritional Sciences
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2010
    • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
      • National Center for Toxicological Research
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 2003–2009
    • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Pharmacology
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 1995–2005
    • The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
      • • Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
      • • Department of Health Technology and Informatics
      Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 2000
    • French National Institute for Agricultural Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 1998
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      North Carolina, United States
  • 1997
    • Instituto de Salud Carlos III
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 1993
    • Queen's University Belfast
      • Institute of Clinical Sciences
      Béal Feirste, N Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 1991
    • Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth
      Maigh Nuad, Leinster, Ireland