Mrs. Emtenan Jefrei

Mrs. Emtenan Jefrei


Originally from Saudi Arabia, I am a lecturer in Clinical Nutrition Department at Umm Al-Qura University, SA. I am funded through a full scholarship from Saudi Arabia Cultural Bureau to study a Ph.D. at the University of Leeds School of Food Science and Nutrition. 

Research interests

I am researching the relationship between nutrition and epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation. Specifically, my research project is evaluating how long-term exposure to bioactive compounds found in the diet, such as plant sterols and plant stanols (PSS), can modulate gene expression patterns in breast cancer by epigenetic processes such as DNA methylation, chromatin structure, and regulation of non-coding RNA.

Previous work from the research group found that PSS may be protective against cancer and can mitigate pro-cancer effects of aberrant cholesterol metabolism found in many different and common cancer types, including the breast, lung, colon, and brain.

The hypothesis of my Ph.D. research is that long-term exposure to PSS can regulate the expression of oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes via epigenetic processes. The project will initially investigate miRNA-mRNA combinatorial regulation with RNA-Seq, then move to analysis of candidate target oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes for evaluation of promoter methylation and histone modification in response to chronic long-term PSS exposure.  

I have started her Ph.D. by conducting a systematic scoping review with the aim of identifying and summarizing all previous studies that have linked PSS to epigenetic cellular processes. 




  •  Bachelor's degree in Clinical Nutrition from Umm Al-Qura University, SA.
  •  Master's degree in Human Nutrition from University of Wisconsin-Stout, USA.