Dr Michael Zulyniak

Dr Michael Zulyniak


Michael’s primary research focusses on the moelcular determinants of disease in high-risk populations. This is accomplished using interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular biology, nutritional epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, and advanced statisticcal modelling. Using both cohort and clincial trial data, my work suggests that populations that differ in age, ethcnity, or body weight metabolise foods differently and that this difference is associated with disease risk in later life.

My current research focusses on undertanding the mechanisms by which these high-risk metabolic differences influence disease risk and identifying the metabolic differneces that are most responsive to disease prevention and management.  To acccomplish this requires an a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach that harnesses and networks the strengths of various types of biological and environmental data – i.e., nutritional, genomic, metabolomic, molecular, and clinical data. Doing so allows us to identify the distinct and combined impacts of each system on health and disease, and can even point us towards the ideal targets to lower disese risk.This work is reliant on observational data from large cohorts, such as the UK Biobank and Born in Bradford, and expertise in nutrtional epidemilogy, molecular epidemiology, and statistics.

Michael is Chief investigator of a study that aims to identify metabolomic features that are resposnsible for increased risk of infant low and high birthweight that is disproportionatly observed in some ethnic gorups more than others (funded by Wellcome Trust). Metabolites reflect the interaction between genes and diet and, therefore, provide an ideal means with which to evaluate the combined effect of maternal ethncity and diet on metabolism and infant health at birth. This study aims to identify key metabolic pathways linked to infant birthweight BW, and shed light on those that are most amenable to preventative lifestyle strategies.  


  • Lead Academic Tutor
  • Module Leader

Research interests

  • The role of nutrition on disease prevention and development in high-risk groups;
  • The interaction between genes and nutrition and their role in health and disease;
  • Identifying and understanding the driving metabolic mechanisms of disease risk;
  • Assessment of generalizbility of research evidence across diverse popaultions.



Principle Investigator

  • Wellcome Trust. Early maternal predictors of infant birth weight and adult cardiometabolic risk in South Asians
  • N8 AgriFood. Greenhouse gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GDOT) Hack-Nights.
  • Hamilton Health Sciences. New Investigator Fund. Trimethylamine-N-Oxide (TMAO) and Myocardial Infarction in Multi-Ethnic Canadian and Global Populations
  • CIHR. Randomized Controlled Trials: Mentoring Plan.


  • CIHR. A culturally-tailored personalizeD nutrition intErvention in South ASIan women at risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: a randomized trial (DESI-GDM).
  • WHO. Systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of dietary PUFA on cardiometabolic, atopic, and neurocognitive development in children, pregnant women, and adults.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Research Fellowship. McMaster University (Canada). Department of Medicine.
  • PhD. University of Guelph (Canada), Human Health and Nutritional Sciences
  • MSc. University of Aberdeen (UK) Molecular Exercise Physiology
  • BSc. University of Saskatchewan (Canada), Kinesiology

Professional memberships

  • Association for the Study of Obesity (Member)
  • The Nutrition Society (Member)
  • Lifestyle Genomics (Journal, Associate Editor)

Student education

I lead an undergradate module which covers molecular and cellular biology, nutrition, and metabolism and deliver guest lectures on the topics of nutrition, genomics, and obesity. I also mentor 2nd year undergrauate students perparing literature reviews and final year undergraduate and MSc research projects. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Nutrition and Public Health
  • Nutritional Epidemiology
  • Obesity, Cancer and Metabolic Disease
  • Human Nutrition and Lifestyle Intervention

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>