Centre for Metabolic Health Research

The Centre for Metabolic Health Research supports collaborations amongst like-minded academics. We aim to develop innovative ways to improve health and wellbeing.

What we do

Founded in 2014, The Centre for Metabolic Health Research supports dynamic and international collaborations among like-minded academics. We foster early-career researchers and promote efficient use of resources.

Vision

To be a world leader in metabolic health research by developing comprehensive, innovative ways for improving health and wellbeing.

Mission

To facilitate high-calibre, innovative, interdisciplinary research in metabolic health, with key aspects being the prevention of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the maintenance of mobility and functionality throughout the lifecycle.

Values

Creativity, innovation, collaboration and integrity.

Research

Our research is discovering new ways to lower the risk of the development of metabolic health disorders and improve the quality of life of those affected by disorders such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Cross-disciplinary staff and modern facilities allow us to:

  • unravel the complex nature of these disorders
  • apply the results to at-risk patients as well as patient care
  • share the results with the general population.

Projects

Southern Cross Health Society – assessing metabolic, physical and mental health and wellness in the workplace

‘Heart 2 Heart’ RCT – reducing blood pressure in older individuals using a beetroot juice drink; a randomised controlled trial in 7 countries (NZ, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan)

Musseling-up 2.0: Greenshell™ mussels for inflammation, metabolism and muscular skeletal function. Project Leader: Cawthron Ltd. Collaboration between Cawthron, Massey University, Plant and Food Research and Sanford Ltd. Funded by High Value Nutrition NSC and Sanford Ltd.

Publications

Haswell C., Ali A., Page R. A., Hurst R., Rutherfurd-Markwick K. (2021). Potential of Beetroot and Blackcurrant Compounds to Improve Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors. Metabolites 11(6), 338. https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo11060338

Stanaway L., Rutherfurd-Markwick K., Page R. A., Wong M., Jirangrat W., Teh K. H. and Ali, A. (2019). Acute Supplementation with Nitrate-rich Beetroot Juice Causes a Greater Increase in Plasma Nitrite and Reduction in Blood Pressure of Older Compared to Younger Adults. Nutrients 11(7), 1683. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11071683

Stachyshyn S., Wham C., Ali, A., Knightbridge-Eager, T., Rutherfurd-Markwick, K. (2021). Motivations for Caffeine Consumption in New Zealand Tertiary Students. Nutrients 13(12), 4236. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124236.

Symposiums

Centre for Metabolic Health Research Symposium 2017

Student name: Luke Stanaway
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: The effects of a nitrate-rich, vegetable beverage on cognition, mood and cardiovascular responses in younger and older adults
Supervisors: Professor Ajmol Ali, Associate Professor Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick, Associate Professor Rachel Page

Student name: Kyle Southward
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: Caffeine, genetics and exercise
Supervisors: Professor Ajmol Ali, Associate Professor Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick

Student name: Jeanette Rapson
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: Nutrition and physical activity knowledge and perspective questionnaire within ECE
Supervisors: Professor Ajmol Ali, Associate Professor Cathryn Conlon

Student name: Sudesh Sharma
Campus: Wellington campus
Project title: Understanding the Social Determinants of Non-Communicable Diseases in Nepal: A systems perspective
Supervisors: Associate Professor Rachel Page, Dr Anna Matheson

Student name: Lilian Ilesanmi-Oyelere
Campus: Manawatū campus, Palmerston North
Project title: Bugs ’n’ Bones Study: The relationship between dietary patterns, bone biomarkers, gut microbiome and bone density
Supervisors: Professor Marlena Kruger, Professor Jane Coad, Dr Nicole Roy

Student name: Diana Cabrera
Campus: Manawatū campus, Palmerston North
Project title: Biomarker development to assess bone health
Supervisors: Dr Fran Wolber, Professor Marlena Kruger

Student name: Idah Chatindra
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: Evaluating Nutrition Risk and Intervening to enCourage Healthy-eating (The Enrich Study)
Supervisors: Professor Carol Wham, Professor Marlena Kruger

Staff presentation: Dr Claire Badenhorst – Exploring the role of dietary carbohydrates on post-exercise, inflammation, hepcidin and iron status in endurance athletes

Centre for Metabolic Health Research Symposium 2018

Student name: Luke Stanaway
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: An Insight into Evolving Technology: The USCOM, NIRS and iSTAT
Supervisors: Professor Ajmol Ali, Associate Professor Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick, Associate Professor Rachel Page

Student name: Kyle Southward
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: Caffeine, genetics and exercise
Supervisors: Professor Ajmol Ali, Associate Professor Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick, Dr Claire Badenhorst

Student name: Janice Lim
Campus: Auckland campus
Project title: Stopping the progression towards type 2 diabetes mellitus: Investigating hypoglycaemic potential of antioxidant-rich plant extracts
Supervisors: Associate Professor Rachel Page, Professor Pam Von Hurst, Dr Cheryl Gammon

Student name: Umani Walallawita
Campus: Manawatū campus, Palmerston North
Project title: Importance of tangerine tomato lycopene over the red tomato lycopene
Supervisors: Professor Julian Heyes, Professor Marlena Kruger, Dr Fran Wolber, Dr Ayelet Ziv-Gal

Student name: Blue Siriarchavatana
Campus: Manawatū campus, Palmerston North
Project title: The experience in primary cell cultures for osteoarthritis research: part 1_Synovium
Supervisors: Dr Fran Wolber, Professor Marlena Kruger

Student name: Saima Rizwan
Campus: Manawatū campus, Palmerston North
Project title: An Introduction to Osteoarthritis
Supervisors: Dr Fran Wolber, Professor Marlena Kruger

Student name: Ali Heydari
Campus: Wellington campus
Project title: Molecular Aspects of Horizontal Gene Transfer and Resistance Mechanisms Induced by Heavy Metals in Bacterial Isolates
Supervisors: Dr Barry Palmer, Dr Nick Kim, Dr Collette Bromhead, Dr Jacqui Horswell, Dr Gerty Gielen

Student name: Sudesh Sharma
Campus: Wellington campus
Project title: Understanding the social determinants of non-communicable diseases in Nepal: a systems perspective
Supervisors: Associate Professor Rachel Page, Dr Anna Matheson

Study with us

“My experience with Massey and my supervisor panel has been fantastic. It is always emphasised that the environment and your supervisors are critical when doing your PhD, and I can safely say I have been very lucky here with the support and knowledge they provide me.”
Luke Stanaway

Doctor of Philosophy

“Working as a large research team not only gives me exposure to interesting research opportunities, but also means we can collaborate together to put forward the best ideas and thoughts to optimize our research output.”
Cameron Haswell

Partners

We work closely with community groups and health professionals around New Zealand and internationally.

AgResearch

AgResearch is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. Its purpose is to enhance the value, productivity and profitability of New Zealand’s pastoral, agri-food and agri-technology sector value chains to contribute to economic growth and beneficial environmental and social outcomes for New Zealand.

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Cawthron Institute

Cawthron Institute is New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation. They deliver world-class science that helps to protect the environment and support the sustainable development of primary industries in New Zealand and worldwide.

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Plant & Food Research

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. Its purpose is to enhance the value and productivity of New Zealand's horticultural, arable, seafood and food & beverage industries.

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Sanford Ltd

Sanford is a major New Zealand fishery with a focus on sustainability and quality. Their vision is to be the best seafood company in the world. Sanford are proud of their 100+ years of seafood history, passionate about their industry and excited about their future.

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Southern Cross Health Society

Southern Cross is New Zealand's not-for-profit largest private healthcare organisation, with health, travel, life, pet insurance options, and a national network of healthcare services.

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Sweetkick (Nu Brands Ltd)

Sweetkick creates simple yet effective products that help people reduce their sugar intake over time and allow them to take back control of their sugar cravings.

Learn more

Our people

Our people are a cross-disciplinary group of researchers in fields, including:

  • sport and exercise
  • nutrition and dietetics
  • physiology
  • food technology
  • environmental health
  • Māori health.
Professor Ajmol Ali's photo

Professor Ajmol Ali

PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons)

Professor of Sport and Exercise Science/Associate Dean - International, School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, College of Health, Auckland campus

Professor Ali's research spans several platforms that broadly fit within the categories of physical activity/sport and aspects of health, wellness and sporting performance within adults and children.

Ajmol Ali's profile

Professor Marlena Kruger's photo

Professor Marlena Kruger

MSc, PhD

Professor in Nutritional Physiology, Doctoral Mentor Supervisor at the School of Health Sciences, Associate Dean Higher Degree Research at the College of Health, School of Health Sciences, Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, College of Health, Manawatū campus, Palmerston North

Professor Kruger is an established academic with over 200 peer reviewed publications. She is a world reknowned expert on lipids and bone health. Her main focus in research includes dairy foods, bioactives and lipids in bone health. Her current research focuses on marine foods and bioactives for maintaining bone and joint health and mobility.

Marlena Kruger's profile

Professor Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick

PhD, BSc(Hons)

Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, Auckland campus

Associate Professor Rutherfurd-Markwick’s research activities are primarily in the field of bioactives for improving human health (e.g., blood pressure, immune function) and performance (physical and cognitive). She has been involved in human research involving clinical trials for over 20 years but also has broad experience investigating the effects of dietary supplementation on immune function in a wide range of other species, including cats, dogs, mice and chickens.

Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick's profile

Equipment

The Centre for Metabolic Health Research offers a range of expertise and equipment.

Biomarkers

  • Bone biochemical markers
  • Markers for joint health
  • Metabolic health

Body composition

  • Visceral fat assessments (ultrasound)
  • Skinfold thickness
  • Bone density
  • BodPod

Cardiovascular

  • Arterial stiffness (ultrasound, pulse wave analysis)
  • Endothelial function (ultrasound)
  • Heart rate variability
  • Conduit blood flow profiling (ultrasound)
  • Skeletal muscle microvascular blood flow (near infra-red spectroscopy)
  • Skeletal muscle biopsy assessment of capillary density
  • Heart disease-associated SNP genotyping
  • Heart disease cohort study design
  • Langendorf heart perfusion
  • Isolation of primary cardiac myocytes
  • Cardiac myocyte and endothelial cell culture
  • Cell signalling in cardiac myocytes

Environment

Microbial heavy metal processing/resistance and antibiotic resistance

Exercise/sport performance

  • Physical activity (accelerometry)
  • Lactate threshold testing
  • Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max)

Genetics and genomics

SNP genotyping/haplotyping

In vitro assessment of bioactives/ food extracts

Accordion body:

  • Bone health
  • Joint health
  • Immune
  • Other

Skeletal muscle

  • Non-invasive assessment of mitochondrial respiratory analysis (near infra-red spectroscopy)
  • Muscle volume (ultrasound)
  • Mitochondrial enzyme activity (biopsy)
  • Skeletal muscle myocyte/myotube culture
  • Electric Pulse Stimulation of skeletal myocytes/myotubes
  • Cell signalling in skeletal myocytes/myotubes

Metabolic

  • Resting/exercise metabolic rate
  • Isolation of primary hepatocytes
  • Cell signalling and metabolic regulation in skeletal and cardiac myocytes, adipocytes and liver cells
  • Insulin signalling

Contact us

Contact us for more information about the centre.

Professor Ajmol Ali

Professor Ajmol Ali

PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons)
Professor of Sport and Exercise Science/Associate Dean - International
Phone
Department
School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition
College
College of Health
Campus
Auckland campus