Dr Michael Zulyniak

Dr Michael Zulyniak


My primary research focusses on the molecular determinants of disease in high-risk populations. This is accomplished using interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular and nutritional epidemiology with advanced and novel statistical methods. Using both cohort and clincial trial data, my work suggests that populations that differ in age, ethcnity, or body weight metabolise and resposnd to foods and physical acitivty differently and that this contribites to an elevated risk of disease 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 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, kinesiology,  and clinical data – collected in large observational cohorts (e.g., UK Biobank and Born in Bradford). My current network of close collaborators includes research groups at the Universty of Leeds (e.g., Food Science and Nutrition, Medicine, Data Analytics), St James’s Hospital (Leeds, UK), and the University of Bristol, and internationally (e.g., McMaster University and Univeristy of Guelph in Canada). These collaborations allow us to identify the distinct and combined impacts of distinct and combined exposures on health and disease, and point us towards the ideal targets to lower disease risk. 

Currently, I am chief investigator of a study (funded by Wellcome Trust) that aims to identify metabolomic features that are resposnsible for increased risk of (i) gestational diabetes and (ii) low and high newborn birthweight that is disproportionatly observed across ethnic groups. Metabolites reflect the interaction between genes and lifestyle and, therefore, provide an ideal means with which to evaluate the combined effect of maternal ethnicity and lifestyle on metabolism and maternal and newborn health. This study aims to identify key metabolic pathways linked to maternal and infant health, and shed light on those that are most amenable to preventative lifestyle strategies in ethncially diverse populations.  Additionally, I am chief investgator of a randomised control trial that is embedded within routine clinical care (i.e., INFORMED trial) to monitor dysglycemia for the full duration of pregnancy and test the effectivenes of a targetted nutritonal intervention to mediate glcyemia in a multi-ethnic cohort of prengnat women . 



  • Lead Academic Tutor
  • Lead for Food Science and Nutrition Program

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 to Harness Modern Analytical technologies in a randomized clinical trial (RCT) setting to discover the optimal diet and exercise intervention to reduce GDM in South Asian mothers. 


  • 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 two undergradate module which covers molecular and cellular biology, nutrition, and metabolism and deliver guest lectures on the topics of nutrition, lifestyle, omics’ technologies, and obesity. I also mentor 2nd year undergrauate students and final year undergraduate and MSc research projects within the school of Food Science and Nutrition and the School of Medicine.

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>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/143-the-role-of-genetics-in-the-regulation-of-metabolism-and-cardiometabolic-diseases-and-cancer">The role of genetics in the regulation of metabolism and cardiometabolic diseases and cancer</a></li>