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Nicola Lowe

Prof. Nicola Lowe

Professor in Nutritional Science

School of Sport and Wellbeing

Darwin Building, DB230

+44 (0) 1772 89 3599

Nicola Lowe is Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Co-Director of the International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Food Safety Studies. Her research interests include micronutrient requirements, with a particular interest in zinc requirements and metabolism. She is also leading research activities addressing issues around malnutrition in North West Pakistan.

Full Profile

Nicola Lowe is Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Co-Director of the International Institute of Nutritional Science and Food Safety Studies at the University of Central Lancashire.

After graduating from the University of Liverpool with a PhD in trace mineral metabolism, Nicola spent four years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley where she conducted research examining the homeostatic response to dietary zinc depletion.

Nicola's primary research interest is trace mineral metabolism. She is currently Chair of Zinc-Net, a network of international scientists brought together through funding from the European Commission (COST Action), to address issues relating to the role of zinc in human health.

Nicola is also the research director and a trustee for the Abaseen Foundation. This Lancashire based charity is working alongside community members in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in north west Pakistan, to improve education and health care provision.

In 2010, Nicola and her research team won The Times Higher Education’s International Collaboration of the Year award for their work to improve the nutrition and health status of communities in Pakistan and around the area of Blackburn, UK.


- Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Central Lancashire, 2005
- PhD Nutritional Biochemistry. Liverpool University, 1991
- BSc Biochemistry and Applied Zoology. University College of North Wales, Bangor, 1987

Membership of Professional and Learned Bodies

- Member of the Nutrition Society (since 1988)
- Registered Nutritionist and Fellow of the Association for Nutrition
- Member of the Zinc-UK group (since 2009)
- Chair of Zinc-Net (since 2013)


A-L Stammers, N M Lowe, M Warthon Medina, S Patel, F Dykes, C Pérez-Rodrigo, L Serra-Majem, M Nissensohn and V Hall Moran. The relationship between zinc intake and growth in children aged 1-8 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (in Press) doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.204.

Nissensohn M, Sánchez-Villegas A, Fuentes Lugo D, Henríquez Sánchez P, Doreste Alonso J, Peña Quintana L, Ruano C, Lowe NL, Hall Moran V, Skinner AL, Warthon-Medina M, Serra-Majem L. Effect of zinc intake on growth in infants: A meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014 (in Press) DOI:10.1080/10408398.2013.802661

Silvia Bel-Serrat, Anna-Louise Stammers, Marisol Warthon-Medina, Victoria Hall Moran, Iris Iglesia-Altaba, Maria Hermoso, Luis A. Moreno, Nicola M. Lowe. Factors that affect zinc bioavailability and losses in adults and elderly people: a review and meta-analysis by the EURRECA network. Nutrition Reviews Vol. 72(5):334–352. (2013). doi:10.1111/nure.12105

Nissensohn M., Sánchez-Villegas A., Fuentes Lugo D., Henríquez Sánchez P.,Doreste Alonso J., Skinner A. L., Warthon Medina M., Lowe N. M., Hall Moran V., and Serra-Majem L. (2013). Effect of Zinc Intake on Mental and Motor Development in Infants: A Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 83 (4) 203-215.

Lowe, Nicola M, Ellahi, Basma, Bano, Qudsia, Bangash, Sonia Ali, Mitra, Soma R and Zaman, Mukhtiar (2011) Dietary Calcium Intake, Vitamin D Status, and Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women in Rural Pakistan Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 29 (5). pp. 465-470. ISSN 1606-0997

Lowe, Nicola M, Fekete, Katalin and Decsi, Tamas (2009) Methods of assessment of zinc status in humans: a systematic review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89 (6). 2040S-2051S. ISSN 0002-9165

More publications

Research Gate Publications


Current projects

Evaluation of macro and micronutrient intake and nutritional status of children in low socio-economic communities Pakistan and Peru, with reference to zinc and cognitive function.

Chronic malnutrition is of crisis proportions among children in Peru. Suboptimal zinc status in this population is associated with inadequate consumption of calories and by deficient consumption of high quality foods of animal origin (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy product) that are important sources of micronutrients, including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 . Zinc is highly important in the normal growth and development of children as it plays a key role in cellular integrity and numerous biological functions. There is a paucity of data regarding the relationship between zinc and cognitive function in humans. Animal trials have shown a positive effect of zinc supplementation on functions such as learning, knowledge retention, attention, play and functional activity. The limited evidence from human studies, linking zinc deficiency to children’s cognitive and motor functioning suggests a relationship among the most vulnerable children but lacks a clear consensus, highlighting the need for additional research.

The purpose of this study is to conduct an assessment of the cognitive function in these children to see if the supplements given during infancy or pregnancy have had an impact on their growth, motor and cognitive skills.

An ethnographic exploration and an evaluation of the potential of the Jirga for community engagement in research in North West Pakistan. Funded by the Wellcome Trust. 2011-2013.

The Jirga is a Pukhtun term for a decision making assembly of male elders. It constitutes a traditional means of communication, discussion and debate that operates primarily in the border tribal regions in North West Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The primary objective of this project is to generate understanding about the mechanisms of the Jirga system as a culturally embedded route for community engagement and explore its potential for community engagement in research. The research will take place in North West Pakistan, a region where the proposers have established relationships and a growing programme of research activities. This project will utilise qualitative and quantitative research methods to a) generate understanding about the model; b) evaluate its applicability to engagement in research and c) explore the degree of transferability of the certain functions of the model to other contexts. In a context of poverty and considerable health and social care needs, there are sizeable challenges attached to engaging people in a research agenda. Our proposed approach is unique, in that it seeks to capitalise on a local culturally embedded means of community engagement to introduce research in a community.

Nutrition support for mothers and children in Baghbanan, Kyber Pakhtunkhawa, Pakistan

Our initial investigations, based on mid upper arm circumference and weight for age, suggest that 16% of the children are moderately malnourished, 69.4% severely malnourished and only 14 % are healthy. Anaemia and worm infestations are also prevalent. We are therefore undertaking an assessment of the general nutrition and health care needs of the community to inform future development of community nutrition support.

The Network for the Biology of Zinc (Zinc-Net) . Funded by through European Framework Programme, COST Action. (2013-2017)

Zinc is involved in an extraordinary range of biological processes and is essential for growth, development and protection from disease. Zinc imbalance and/or deficiency is the 11th leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. Despite the significant implications for human health that can be directly correlated to zinc, the substantial scientific knowledge base of zinc biology dispersed throughout COST countries remains virtually un-translated into an understandable message to the public and end users. The Action will bring together different scientific disciplines, specifically chemistry, biology, nutritionists, health professionals and other end users, with industrial stakeholders and policy formers to develop a coherent platform for discussion, collaborative research and dissemination of information relating to the role zinc plays in biology, public health and well-being. The multidisciplinary nature of this collaborative network will generate synergy to significantly improve the prevention and treatment of diseases, to develop new diagnostic tools and to strengthen the basic and applied science knowledge base. Ultimately this will benefit the wider society and economy. The Action will broaden training activities for all participating countries, with a focus on early stage researchers. Specific attention will be paid to overcome gender imbalance and scientific leadership through mentoring.

External Activities

Nicola is serving on Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development (BOND) panel, which is made up of world renowned researchers who will gather information to support nutrition related health research worldwide.

The panel was set up after the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institutes of Health in the USA came together to identify six nutrients; Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Folate, Vitamin B12 and Iodine that pose a particular public health problem on a global scale.

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

Nicola is research degrees tutor for the division, and contributes to undergraduate teaching on the following programmes:

Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, BSc (Hons)

Human Nutrition BSc (Hons)

Personal Fitness Training BSc (Hons)

Sport Science BSc (Hons)