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Nutrition and Vascular Studies (NVS) and Cardiovascular/Metabolic Risk Management

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Key Strands of Work

NVS work is part of the Research and Innovation section in the Medical Academic Portfolio defining the role of Prof Sumantra Ray (SR) at the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory in Cambridge. The healthcare translation focus in NVS is strengthened both by NNEdPro as well as SR's clinical role within the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Directorate of Addenbrooke’s Hospital (part of the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and a member of Cambridge University Health Partners) and the clinical function within the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. A NNEdPro-NVS joint work plan is currently being developed with Addenbrooke’s partners for the 2016-20 period.


Prof Daniele Del Rio (Associate Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Parma and Visiting Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge) is a key collaborator and NVS Co-Principal Investigator across a number of projects. The Del Rio Group brings cutting edge expertise in the characterisation of phytonutrients, bioactives and related biomarkers, complementing the VFAL technology at MRC EWL. SR is also a named contributor to a European Food Safety Authority Health Claims project led by the Del Rio Group.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of both morbidity and mortality. There is increasing evidence highlighting the complex relationships between diet and CVD/Metabolic Risk, particularly in the context of the current obesity epidemic. However, key knowledge gaps remain in application of emerging evidence to healthcare practice. The NNEdPro instigated Nutrition and Vascular Studies (NVS) Platform/Team seeks to mitigate such knowledge gaps using a translational approach.


The NVS Platform/Team is led by Prof Sumantra Ray (NNEdPro Chair and Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge), in his role as Senior Clinician Scientist as well as National Diet and Nutrition Survey Lead Clinician, at the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory (EWL) in Cambridge. NVS focuses on the development and synthesis of translatable evidence as well as strengthening methodology, underpinning the ability to investigate and define the place of Nutrition in the CVD/Metabolic Risk Management. The NVS team also has a particular interest in understanding how diets rich in (or supplemented with) fruit, vegetables and/or phytonutrients can modulate cardio-metabolic pathways in at-risk populations, such as the overweight and obese.


NVS research has been facilitated at MRC EWL by the establishment of a state-of-the-art Vascular Function Assessment Lab (VFAL) dedicated to nutritional studies. The VFAL has developed bespoke Standard Operating Procedures for the measurement of macro- and micro-vascular as well as endothelial function in relation to nutrition interventions/exposures (i.e. Carotid Intimal Media Thickness, Flow Mediated Dilatation, Pulse Wave Analysis/Velocity, Ambulatory Blood Pressure, Digital Electrocardiography, Laser Doppler Iontophoresis and other complementary measures). Ongoing method development work in the VFAL ensures enhanced precision in the detection of vascular changes relating to nutrition.


Based on NVS work, the NNEdPro group aims to translate key findings and other supporting evidence from the wider literature, particularly into educational innovations (incorporating impact assessment) for healthcare professionals.

NVS Logo


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Individual Diets, Nutrition and Vascular/Endothelial Function

Population Diets, Nutrition and Cardiovascular / Metabolic Risk

Evidence Synthesis and Knowledge Exchange for Researchers and/or Practitioners

Experimental Epidemiological Translational

Additional Information

Key Contributors to NVS

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Dr Jane Maddock

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

Marietta Sayegh

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

Nida Ziauddeen

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

Melina Tsiountsioura

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

Sarah Gibbings

MRC Research Assistant and Team Co-ordinator

Cambridge, UK

Matt Harvey

MRC Research Assistant and Physician's Assistant

Cambridge, UK

Dr Rajna Golubic

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

Dr Virginia Tomatis

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

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Gabriele Mocciaro

MRC Visiting Scientific Worker

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The NVS Platform/Team (including the VFAL) developed and led by SR, is managed as a ‘Specialism’ under the MRC EWL Nutrition Surveys and Studies (NSS) Collaborative Programme/Group (predominantly externally [non-MRC] funded, with National Surveys as the major activity). NSS sits alongside MRC intramural research at the EWL.


Project ideas for NVS often arise from NNEdPro needs assessments and/or the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Directorate of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, identifying key knowledge gaps which require research to strengthen the evidence base for translation to practice. In addition, Public Health/Policy relevant NVS questions often arise from the NDNS and findings from other population studies. NVS projects (c/o NSS) are also predominantly externally funded (via a mix of public, private and charity grants) and collaboratively led, adding value to the EWL, particularly through the provision of a specialist technology platform (including the VFAL) for collaborative use.


The NVS Platform/Team (including the VFAL) is operationally interlinked with the MRC EWL Volunteer Studies and Clinical Services (VSCS) Facility, developed and led by SR.