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Ian MacDonald

Portrait of Ian MacDonald

Brief Summary

Ian Macdonald is Professor of Metabolic Physiology at the University of Nottingham and was previously Director of Research for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. In August 2013 he became the Head of the newly formed School of Life Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Ian Macdonald’s research interests are concerned with the functional consequences of metabolic and nutritional disturbances in health and disease, with specific interests in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and exercise. The research has been funded by grants from Research Councils, Medical Charities, EU (FP5 and FP7), and the Food Industry.

His early work involved assessing the physiological consequences (mainly on thermoregulation and BP regulation) of metabolic and nutritional disturbances such as starvation, hypoglycaemia and prolonged exercise. More recent work has focussed on the metabolic aspects of diabetes and obesity, including the effects of diet composition and weight loss, and the impact of dietary supplements on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.

Two major areas of current interest relate to the use of MR imaging and spectroscopy for assessing alterations in metabolism and the influence of nutrients and metabolic disturbances on gene expression in adipose tissue and muscle. Current work in these areas relates to physical activity and inactivity (including immobilisation), obesity and diabetes.

He has published over 330 peer-reviewed original research papers, together with reviews, book chapters and invited contributions.  He was President of the UK Nutrition Society from 2007-2010 and is presently Treasurer of FENS and of the World Obesity Federation. He is joint Editor of the International Journal of Obesity, a member of the UK Department of Health’s  Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Registered Nutritionist and an Honorary Fellow of the Association  for Nutrition, and a Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences.



           Name:          Ian Andrew MACDONALD

Date of Birth: 13th March 1952

Nationality:    British


            University Education

1973             BSc Physiology (1st class honours, University of London).

1977             PhD (University of London).

Title of thesis:  Metabolic effects of variations in total body lipid.

            Appointments Held

1973-1976     Wellcome Trust Research Scholar, Queen Elizabeth College, University of London.

1976             Part-time Lecturer in Physiology, North London Polytechnic.

1977-1988     Lecturer, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Nottingham Medical School.

1984             Visiting Lecturer in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. USA.

1984             Affiliate in Clinical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. USA.

1988-1992     Reader in Metabolic Physiology, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of

Nottingham Medical School.

1991             Visiting Professor, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

1992-            Professor of Metabolic Physiology, University of Nottingham

1996-8          Visiting Professor, University of Modena, Italy.

1997- 2002   Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham Medical School.

Co-Director, Institute of Clinical Research, University of Nottingham

Director of Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham.

2013 –          Head of School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham




Nutrition Society – I was secretary of the Macronutrient Metabolism Group and a member of the Council of the Nutrition Society from 1991-1997.

  • Member of Council 2002 – 2005
  • President, 2007-2010

Federation of European Nutrition Societies – elected Treasurer of FENS 2011

Association for the Study of Obesity – I was a Committee member from 1991-2001, and the Chair of the Association from 1997-99.

Editor of  the International Journal of Obesity (IJO) – 1997 onwards .

International Association for the Study of Obesity (now World Obesity Federation)–

1997 onwards . Member of Publications Committee

  1. 2014. Chair of Finance Committee.
  1. onwards. Member of the Board of Directors of Obesity International Trading

2014   onwards. Honorary Treasurer


Government and EC:

Defence Research  – I was a member of the Audit panel evaluating the Technical Assessment process at the Centre for Human Sciences, Farnborough, from 1996-1999.  I was Chair of the Audit panel in 1998 and 1999.

From 2000 – 2008 I was an Independent member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council and a member of the Human Sciences and Technology Sub-Committee of the C,B and HT Board until 2007 when re-organisation of DSAC led to the sub-Committees being disbanded.

2002 – 4: Chair of a Working Party investigating ‘Women in New Military roles’.

2004 – 7.  Chair of Human Sciences and Technology Sub-Committee of the CBRN and Human Sciences Board of DSAC.

2004 – 2008: Civilian Expert on Services Nutrition Advisory Panel

2005 – 2008: DSAC Representative on Expert Panel on Armed Forces Feeding


Department of Health / Food Standards Agency

2004- onwards: Appointed to Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.

2009-2015: Chair of Carbohydrates working Group of SACN

2011- 2015: member of Food Network component of the Responsibility

Deal at Dept of Health.

2011 – 2015: member of Obesity Review Group (Ministerial Committee, for Minister for Public Health)


National Audit Office (NAO) – 2000 – 02: Member of the Reference Panel for the NAO Obesity Study.


EU Framework Programme V (FPV) – Member of the expert panel involved in the workshop on Research Priorities for Life and Health Science research which was held in Brussels in June 1998.

EU Framework Programme 6 (FP6) – Expert assessor for assessing proposals in Diabetes – Obesity as part of Life Sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health, April 2003.

EU Framework Programme 7 (FP7) – member of European Technology Platform ‘Food for Life’ advising the EU on the research programme for FP7.

European Space Agency-  Life Sciences Working Group – Member from 2000-2004.

European Space Agency- Member of Bed Rest research Advisory Committee, 2005 – onwards.

National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine – Legacy 2012 initiative from DH –

member of the Steering Group of the East Midlands Hub


Industrial Advisory boards

Mars Nutrition Research Council (MNRC) – I was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the MNRC, 1998 – 2007.

Mars Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) – 2013 –

Nutrition Advisory Board, Mars Europe, 2006 – 2010; 2013, 2015-

European Scientific Advisory Council, Coca Cola Europe, 2007 – 2010; 2013.

International Public Policy Advisory board, Coca Cola International, Atlanta USA – 2010

Lighter Life Advisory Board, 2008-2012

IKEA Health and Wellbeing Board 2016 –

Nestle Health Evidence Board 2016 –



My teaching experience and responsibilities span most areas of physiology and the related pharmacology in the Basic Medical Sciences and Pharmacy courses.  In the past 20 years in the Basic Medical Sciences course I have co-ordinated and lectured on the Alimentary System, Cardiovascular System, Endocrine System and Metabolism & Nutrition courses, and supervised practical classes and run seminars in all aspects of the subjects.  I have also supervised Honours Year Student Projects in both Medicine and Pharmacy, with between 4 and 6 students each year.  My main teaching contributions to the Pharmacy course involved modules in Basic aspects of Nutrition to year 3, and in Clinical Nutrition to year 4.  I run a module in Nutrition & Metabolism on the MSc in Sport and Exercise Medicine, in Metabolism and Nutrition in Disease for our MSc in Integrated Physiology in Health and Disease, and in Medicine & Pathology for the MNutr course for the Dietetics students.

I have held External Examinerships in Nutrition at the University of Ulster; in Physiology at Trinity College Dublin; in Physiology, Sports Science & Sports Nutrition at the University of Glasgow; in Physiology at Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa, and in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Birmingham. I am currently External Examiner at Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen) for the MSc in Obesity Management.


1.        Interests

My research interests are mainly focussed on the functional alterations which arise as a consequence of metabolic and nutritional disturbances, both at rest and during exercise.  This involves an integrated approach to the research questions, and the studies are predominantly undertaken on human subjects, both healthy volunteers and patients.  This has involved developing a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to research, combining my own background in integrated physiology with clinical skills, analytical techniques, the assessment of muscle function and more recently the inclusion of molecular biological techniques from collaborators in Nottingham and elsewhere.

The research group that has developed over the past 20 years has an international reputation for the ability to perform integrated measurements of physiological responses. Areas of study have included metabolic and cognitive responses to starvation and induced hypoglycaemia; thermoregulation during undernutrition and starvation; cardiovascular responses to food ingestion; the regulation of fat and carbohydrate mobilisation and utilisation, at rest, during muscle contraction and in exercise.  In addition to the basic physiological and metabolic measurement techniques, we have also developed one of the most sensitive and reliable hplc techniques for measuring catecholamines in body fluids, enabling evaluation of the role of the sympathetic nervous system in mediating the responses observed.  This research has involved the training of 25 medical research fellows, who graduated with either MD or PhD degrees and have progressed to clinical academic, research active NHS consultant, or pharmaceutical industry posts.  The research group has also produced 15 science PhD graduates and 4 MPhil.  In addition to basic discovery and investigation of pathophysiology, this research has also included a large number of healthy volunteer and patient studies with a variety of pharmaceutical companies.

This research has been funded by project grants from the Wellcome Trust, the Ministry of Defence, the BBSRC, the MRC, the EC (Framework 5 & 7), and a large number of Industrial (Food, Pharmaceutical) grants and contracts.