Dr Emma Beckett

Dr Emma Beckett

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

School of Medicine and Public Health

Studying the science of nutrition

Molecular nutritionist Dr Emma Beckett is exploring the genetic secrets behind microbiomes and whether you really are what you eat.

Dr Emma Beckett

“A lot of diseases carry a certain dietary risk: but we don’t always know how the food we eat actually causes the risk in the body. I’m interested in working out what’s happening on a molecular level,” Emma explains. Molecular nutrition explores the bi-directional interaction of nutrients with molecules in the body and helps us understand fundamental questions about our health.

This study of nutrients at a cellular level helps to assess how different nutrients interact with molecules in the body, including the bacteria that live in us, such as the gastrointestinal microbiome. Emma is interested in unraveling how our genes, diet and microbiome interact to predispose us to health or disease. “We all eat food, we all have genes, and we all have a microbiome. But it’s a matter of figuring out how our different unique combinations interact to mean some of us stay healthy while others become unwell” explains Emma. “We can do this by studying cohorts of people, measuring what they eat, what versions of genes they have, and which microbes live in their guts. We compare the different profile to the outcomes and make inferences about disease risk. We can also use cell culture to model the gastrointestinal environment and take control of the interactions to uncover the mechanisms.”

Emma's undergraduate study was in biomedical science with an honours year in immunology and microbiology, followed by four years working in asthma and allergy research at UON. However, for her PhD, Emma wished to explore a new topic that really inspired her: diet and epigenetics. “I’m a twin, so I was already thinking that one of the only things different about me and my twin sister is diet. So I decided that I wanted to do a project exploring that and found the nutrition group here on the Central Coast to explore my project.”

A 2016 NHMRC Early Career Fellowship came at the perfect time for expanding her career independently of her PhD supervisors. “I can now recruit students and look to explore the complex interactions between diet, the microbiome, genetics and epigenetics – with the aim of leading to a better understanding of our risk for, and the effective treatment of, diet-related disease.”

Emma’s current research brings her previous work experience together with her undergraduate and postgraduate by assessing gene-nutrient interactions. “I’m interested in how the genes you have can influence how you taste, process or detect food in your body. But also about how the food you eat changes the way your genes are expressed.”

As part of this study, Emma is studying the gastrointestinal microbiome: “I want to see how it’s not only affected by diet, but how it affects diet. I want to see how different genes that you have to detect your food affect your microbiome, how your microbiome is comprised (what bacteria it’s composed of) and how that impacts on disease risk.”

Spreading the good news about science

Along with her research, Emma is passionate about science communications and outreach. She’s a committee member of Pint of Science Australia and presented at the sold out premiere event in Newcastle in May 2016 – one of many researchers sharing science in pubs around the globe.  Emma is also sought after as a media commentator and in October 2016 featured on ABC’s Ockham’s Razor busting the myths of superfoods.

“It’s not just that I have a passion for science,” Emma explains. “I’m very passionate about appropriate use and communication of science. I get quite distressed when science gets twisted by marketing, or when people use bad science to make money or take money off people. And nutrition is an area where there’s a lot of misinformation, and a lot of twisting of information, and a lot of money to be made. The whole ‘dieting’ industry is a huge industry where a lot of money is made.”

Emma is working to bust the myths around nutrition and to teach people how to critique the information they’re given about our diets. “Nutrition’s really hard because everyone eats food, and so everyone’s a stakeholder,” Emma says. “This is great, because people are invested, but it also means that everyone has an opinion and that makes it difficult because then people think ‘well, my neighbour lost weight on the paleo diet, so obviously the paleo diet’s healthy’. But weight loss is only one part of health – and when it comes to the paelo diet all I’ll say is that cavemen didn’t have to worry about colon cancer because they died at 30…”

“It’s really hard to break through the anecdotal basis for people’s beliefs in diets and I think a lot of that involves trying to help people critique the science that’s delivered to them,” Emma says.

“The average nutrition consumer doesn’t know how to pull apart the science – so those who do have the power need to use it.”

The bulk of Emma’s sci-comms work focusses on how the science of nutrition is interpreted. “You’ll see a news item that says ‘New study shows that butter is better than margarine’ but if you actually read the study you’ll see that is not what it says. The definition of what is better, and you’ve got to remember that it’s all in the context of the overall diet, who the people are, and what else they’re eating, you can’t blame the media for wanting a good story, and you can’t blame the scientists who put out the media release but you’ve got to be able to give people the tools to understand the science and cut through the marketing and the headline.”

International inspiration

With the title of Dr very fresh on Emma’s profile, it’s refreshing to hear that she had a very positive time as a Higher Degree Research candidate. “I had the best PhD experience,” Emma enthuses. “I have no complaints about my PhD experience at all and managed to complete it in four years and 10 days.”

While completing her PhD Emma took the opportunity to apply for International experiences that enabled her to learn from the world’s greatest minds. “I apply for everything,” Emma says with a smile.

A highlight of Emma’s career so far is her selection for the visiting fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in the USA. “It was on the Adam Berry Memorial Scholarship. Each year the Australian Academy of Science sends one PhD student to the US to spend three months working at the NIH to gain collaborative experience,” Emma says.

This award had poignant significance for Emma as Adam was a young Australian scientist working at the NIH who died in a car accident while he was there so his parents established the scholarship in his honour. Emma found out she’d won the award shortly after losing her brother in a car accident so it remains a big source of inspiration and a tribute to her tenacity. It also compelled her to aim high when applying for experiences.

Emma was selected from a very competitive field to meet with Nobel Laureates at both the Eighth HOPE meeting in Tokyo and in the 65th Meeting with Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany. “The imposter syndrome is big in science, so being able to talk one-on-one with Nobel-winning scientists and finding out that they’ve all been there before is very levelling. It was great as so many of them were talking about their failures. For example. Martin Chalfie, one of the world’s leading scientists, quit science because his undergraduate experiment failed and became a janitor. After being a janitor for a few years he went back to science and discovered that he wasn’t bad at science – he just had a bad project. But it’s also about luck, a lot were in the right place at the right time to hit on the right project – that reminds you that it’s not all in your hands and it’s okay to fail. New opportunities will come to you.”

Not only does Emma put her hand up for opportunities, she actively seeks them and doesn’t self-censor herself on opportunities. Applying for everything not only gives you practice at applying – it gives you practice at failing Emma notes. “People really underrate how much failure is a part of being a researcher,” Emma explains. “If we knew an experiment was going to work, it wouldn’t be called an experiment. Just because you don’t prove your hypothesis doesn’t mean it was flawed or you failed. You can’t take it personally, you just need to refine your hypothesis and move on.”

Studying the science of nutrition

Dr Emma Beckett is exploring the genetic secrets behind microbiomes and whether you really are what you eat.

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Emma Beckett has a multi-faceted research background, with qualifications and experience in nutrition, epidemiology, science management, biomedical sciences, immunology and microbiology. Emma completed her PhD, in 2016, as a joint project between the Faculty of Science at the University of Newcastle and the CSIRO Food and Nutrition Flagship. 

Emma is interested in molecular nutrition and her work focuses on gene-nutrient interactions. This involves the study of both how genetic variance alters the bodies responses to nutrition (nutrigenetics), and how nutrients influence gene expression (nutrigenomics) via direct interactions and modification of epigenetic marks. She hopes to unravel how our genes and nutrients interact to modify our risk of chronic and later-life-onset diseases.

She is also interested in how diet and genetics influence the microbiome in the gastrointestinal tract to predisposed to, or protect us from, diseases linked to diet and lifestyle such as colorectal cancer. She has previously worked on lung inflammation and immune responses in COPD and asthma with Professor Philip Hansbro.  

Career highlights include selection by the Australian Academy of Science to attend two prestigious meetings with Nobel Laureates: The 65th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany in 2015, and the 8th HOPE Meeting with Nobel Laureates in Japan in 2016. In 2014 Emma was a Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS), a division of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), thanks to the Australian Academy of Sciences and the NIH trust. There she worked with Dr Stephanie London and Dr Bonnie Joubert on maternal dietary exposures and DNA methylation in offspring.

Emma is also a passionate science communicator. She has written articles for The Conversation, The Newcastle Herald, and Lateral Magazine, and has appeared multiple times of local and national radio, and presented at Pint of Science in 2016. Emma’s science communication work focuses on nutrition myth busting and empowering the public to interpret nutrition research, without falling prey to marketing hype. 


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Hons), University of Newcastle
  • Graduate Diploma in Clinical Epidemiology, University of Newcastle
  • Master of Science Management, University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Biomedical Science
  • Epidemiology
  • Epigenetics
  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Immunology & Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Science Management

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
090899 Food Sciences not elsewhere classified 30
060499 Genetics not elsewhere classified 40
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified 30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2016 -  Committee Member Nutrition Society of Australia (Newcastle Branch) Nutrition Society of Australia (Newcastle Branch)
Australia
1/11/2014 -  Committee Member - Institutional Biosafety Committee The University of Newcastle
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
15/07/2008 - 1/03/2012 Research Assistant and Laboratory Manager The University of Newcastle
Immunology and Microbiology, School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Australia

Awards

Prize

Year Award
2016 AMP Tomorrow Maker
AMP Foundation
2007 Faculty of Health Medal
Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle

Research Award

Year Award
2016 Australian Academy of Science and Japan Society for the promotion of Science HOPE Fellowship
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science/Australian Academy of Science (Japan)
2016 Best Oral Presentation – Central Coast Local Health District Research Symposium, 2016.
Central Coast Local Health District
2016 Best Scientific Abstract poster prize – Nutrition in Medicine conference, 2016.
Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
2015 Travel Award, Annual Meeting of the Nutrition Society of Australia, Wellington, 2015.
Nutrition Society of Australia
2015 Science Pathways CSL Regional Travel Award, Adelaide, 2015.
EMCR Forum, Australian Academy of Science
2015 Best Oral Presentation Award – Nutrition Society of Australia and New Zealand Joint Annual Scientific Meeting, Wellington, December, 2015.
Nutrition Society of Australia
2015 Best Oral Presentation Award – Annual Meeting of the Nutrition Society (Newcastle Branch), 2015
Nutrition Society of Australia (Newcastle Branch)
2015 Best Oral Abstract Presentation – Nutrition in Medicine Conference, Melbourne, 2015.
Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
2015 Outstanding Poster Award – International Society for Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics
International Society for Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics
2014 Nutrition Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting Travel Award, Hobart, 2014.
Nutrition Society of Australia
2014 International Society for Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics Conference Registration Fee Award, Gold Coast, 2014.
International Society for Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics
2014 Best Oral Presentation Award – Annual Meeting of the Nutrition Society (Newcastle), 2014.
Nutrition Society of Australia (Newcastle Branch)

Scholarship

Year Award
2016 Student Conference Scholarship- Nutrition in Medicine conference, Sydney, 2016.
Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
2015 Student Conference and Travel Scholarship- Nutrition in Medicine conference, Melbourne, 2015.
Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine
2015 RHD Conference travel scholarship
Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle | Australia
2015 Science and Industry Endowment Fund – Australian Academy of Science (SIEF-AAS) Fellowships to the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings.
Australian Academy of Sciences
2014 Adam J Berry Memorial Scholarship
Australian Academy of Sciences
2012 CSIRO OCE PhD Scholarship
CSIRO - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
2007 Vice Chancellor's Honours Scholarship
The University of Newcastle
2006 School of Biomedical Sciences Summer Vacation Scholarship
The University of Newcastle
2002 University of Newcastle Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship
The University of Newcastle

Invitations

Panel Participant

Year Title / Rationale
2015 Invited delegate Junkee Junket
2015 Panel - Feeding the 9.5 Billion in 2050 - 65th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting

Teaching

Code Course Role Duration
HUBS1108 Musculoskeletal Anatomy for Podiatry
The University of Newcastle
Tutor 28/02/2013 - 30/07/2016
NURS3101 Foundations of Professional Practice 3A
The University of Newcastle
Tutor 4/03/2014 - 31/07/2016
HUBS1108 Musculoskeletal Anatomy for Podiatry
The University of Newcastle
Tutor 11/03/2013 - 31/07/2016
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (24 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Beckett EL, Duesing K, Boyd L, Yates Z, Veysey M, Lucock M, 'A potential sex dimorphism in the relationship between bitter taste and alcohol consumption.', Food Funct, (2017)
DOI 10.1039/c6fo01759b
Co-authors Zoe Yates, Mark Lucock, Martin Veysey
2016 Lucock M, Beckett E, Martin C, Jones P, Furst J, Yates Z, et al., 'UV-associated decline in systemic folate: Implications for human nutrigenetics, health, and evolutionary processes', American Journal of Human Biology, (2016)

© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine whether UV exposure alters folate status according to C677T-MTHFR genotype, and to consider the... [more]

© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine whether UV exposure alters folate status according to C677T-MTHFR genotype, and to consider the relevance of this to human health and the evolutionary model of skin pigmentation. Methods: Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite data were used to examine surface UV-irradiance, as a marker of UV exposure, in a large (n=649) Australian cross-sectional study population. PCR/RFLP analysis was used to genotype C677T-MTHFR. Results: Overall, cumulative UV-irradiance (42 and 120 days pre-clinic) was significantly negatively related to red cell folate (RCF) levels. When the cohort was stratified by MTHFR-C677T genotype, the relationship between UV-irradiance (42 days pre-clinic) and RCF remained significant only in the cohorts containing carriers of the T allele. Statistically significant z-score statistics and interaction terms from genotype and UV-irradiance (p-interaction) demonstrated that genotype did modify the effect of UV-irradiance on RCF, with the largest effect of UV being demonstrated in the 677TT-MTHFR subjects. Conclusions: Data provide strong evidence that surface UV-irradiance reduces long-term systemic folate levels, and that this is influenced by the C677T-MTHFR gene variant. We speculate this effect may be due to 677TT-MTHFR individuals containing more 5,10CH2-H4PteGlu, and that this folate form may be particularly UV labile. Since UV-irradiance lowers RCF in an MTHFR genotype-specific way, there are likely implications for human health and the evolution of skin pigmentation.

DOI 10.1002/ajhb.22929
Co-authors John Furst, Zoe Yates, Martin Veysey, Mark Lucock
2016 Jones P, Beckett EL, Yates Z, Veysey M, Lucock M, 'Converging Evolutionary, Environmental and Clinical Ideas on Folate Metabolism', Exploratory Research and Hypothesis in Medicine, 1 34-41 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.14218/ERHM.2016.00003b
Co-authors Mark Lucock, Martin Veysey, Zoe Yates
2016 Joubert BR, den Dekker HT, Felix JF, Bohlin J, Ligthart S, Beckett E, et al., 'Maternal plasma folate impacts differential DNA methylation in an epigenome-wide meta-analysis of newborns', Nature Communications, 7 10577-10577 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.1038/ncomms10577
Citations Scopus - 13Web of Science - 10
2016 Beckett EL, Le Gras K, Martin C, Boyd L, Ng X, Duesing K, et al., 'Vitamin D receptor polymorphisms relate to risk of adenomatous polyps in a sex-specific manner', Nutrition and Cancer, 68 193-200 (2016) [C1]

© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphisms may influence risk for adenomatous polyps (AP), a benign precursor to colon cancer, via modulation ... [more]

© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphisms may influence risk for adenomatous polyps (AP), a benign precursor to colon cancer, via modulation of vitamin D sensitive pathways, including cell proliferation and differentiation. However, results have been mixed and any association remains contentious. Failure to clinically exclude the presence of (AP in control cohorts may contribute to the lack of consensus. Therefore, we assessed the role of the FokI, BsmI, ApaI, and TaqI VDR polymorphisms in modifying risk for AP, adjusting for a range of dietary and lifestyle variables. Blood was collected from colonoscopy patients (n = 258) and VDR polymorphisms assessed by restriction fragment length polymorphism. Dietary habits were estimated from food frequency questionnaires. Odds ratios for AP were calculated by genotype, stratified by sex, and adjusted for age, lifestyle, and dietary factors. FokI was associated with modified risk for AP in males, whereas the BsmI/ApaI/TaqI haplotype was associated with modified risk in females. No interaction was found between VDR variants and vitamin D intake. This study offers novel insight into the potential for VDR genetics to contribute to risk for AP and is the first to demonstrate a sex-specific relationship between these polymorphisms and risk for AP.

DOI 10.1080/01635581.2016.1142584
Co-authors Mark Lucock, Martin Veysey, Zoe Yates
2016 Beckett EL, Duesing K, Martin C, Jones P, Furst J, King K, et al., 'Relationship between methylation status of Vitamin D-related genes, Vitamin D levels, and methyl-donor biochemistry', Journal of Nutrition and Intermediary Metabolism, 6 8-15 (2016)

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.Vitamin D is known for its role in the regulation of gene expression via the Vitamin D receptor, a nuclear transcription factor. Mor... [more]

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.Vitamin D is known for its role in the regulation of gene expression via the Vitamin D receptor, a nuclear transcription factor. More recently, a role for Vitamin D in regulating DNA methylation has been identified as an additional mechanism of modulation of gene expression. How methylation status influences Vitamin D metabolism and response pathways is not yet clear. Therefore, we aimed to assess the relationship between plasma 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D) and the methylation status of Vitamin D metabolism enzyme genes (CYP2R1, CYP27B1 and CYP24A1) and the Vitamin D receptor gene (VDR). This analysis was conducted in the context of dietary Vitamin D, and background methyl donor related biochemistry, with adjustment for several dietary and lifestyle variables. Percentage methylation at CpG sites was assessed in peripheral blood cells using methylation sensitive and dependent enzymes and qPCR. Standard analytical techniques were used to determine plasma 25(OH)D and homocysteine, and serum folate and B12, with the relationship to methylation status assessed using multi-variable regression analysis. CYP2R1 and VDR methylation were found to be independent predictors of plasma 25(OH)D, when adjusted for Vitamin D intake and other lifestyle variables. CYP24A1 was related to plasma 25(OH)D directly, but not in the context of Vitamin D intake. Methyl-group donor biochemistry was associated with the methylation status of some genes, but did not alter the relationship between methylation and plasma 25(OH)D. Modulation of methylation status of CYP2R1, CYP24A1 and VDR in response to plasma 25(OH)D may be part of feedback loops involved in maintaining Vitamin D homeostasis, and may explain a portion of the variance in plasma 25(OH)D levels in response to intake and sun exposure. Methyl-group donor biochemistry, while a potential independent modulator, did not alter this effect.

DOI 10.1016/j.jnim.2016.04.010
Co-authors Mark Lucock, Katrina King, John Furst, Martin Veysey, Zoe Yates
2016 Camlin NJ, Sobinoff AP, Sutherland JM, Beckett EL, Jarnicki AG, Vanders RL, et al., 'Maternal Smoke Exposure Impairs the Long-Term Fertility of Female Offspring in a Murine Model.', Biol Reprod, 94 39 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.1095/biolreprod.115.135848
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 2
Co-authors Jessie Sutherland, Janet Holt, Eileen Mclaughlin, Philip Hansbro
2015 Lucock M, Jones P, Martin C, Beckett E, Yates Z, Furst J, Veysey M, 'Vitamin D: Beyond Metabolism', Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 20 310-322 (2015) [C1]

© 2015, The Author(s) 2015.Interest in vitamin D and the VDR gene is increasing as putative roles in human health and evolutionary processes are explored. This review looks beyon... [more]

© 2015, The Author(s) 2015.Interest in vitamin D and the VDR gene is increasing as putative roles in human health and evolutionary processes are explored. This review looks beyond the classic biochemistry that links vitamin D to calcium homeostasis; it explores how vitamin D interacts with light in a broader perspective than simple skin photosynthesis. It examines how the vitamin influences circadian rhythm, and how it may have helped drive the evolution of skin pigmentation. To this end, the nutrient¿nutrient relationship with folate is also explored. The VDR gene is additionally examined as a factor in the evolutionary selection of skin depigmentation at higher latitudes to allow vitamin D synthesis. Evidence is given to show that VDR polymorphisms exhibit a latitudinal gradient in allele prevalence consistent with such a paradigm. Overall, the review examines new evo-devo ideas that link light-sensitive vitamins to human health/phenotype, both within and across the lifecycle.

DOI 10.1177/2156587215580491
Co-authors Zoe Yates, Martin Veysey, John Furst, Mark Lucock
2015 Essilfie A, Horvat JC, Kim RY, Mayall JR, Pinkerton JW, Beckett EL, et al., 'Macrolide therapy suppresses key features of experimental steroid-sensitive and steroid-insensitive asthma', Thorax Journal, 70 458-467 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2014-206067
Citations Scopus - 20Web of Science - 19
Co-authors Malcolm Starkey, Paul Foster, Jodie Simpson, Jay Horvat, Philip Hansbro, Peter Gibson
2015 Lucock M, Yates Z, Martin C, Choi JH, Beckett E, Boyd L, et al., 'Methylation diet and methyl group genetics in risk for adenomatous polyp occurrence', BBA Clinical, 3 107-112 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 The Authors.Purpose: The aim of this study is to explore whether a methylation diet influences risk for adenomatous polyps (AP) either independently, or interactively with... [more]

© 2015 The Authors.Purpose: The aim of this study is to explore whether a methylation diet influences risk for adenomatous polyps (AP) either independently, or interactively with one-carbon metabolism-dependent gene variants, and whether such a diet modifies blood homocysteine, a biochemical phenotype closely related to the phenomenon of methylation. Methods: 249 subjects were examined using selective fluorescence, PCR and food frequency questionnaire to determine homocysteine, nine methylation-related gene polymorphisms, dietary methionine, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, vitamins B6 and B12. Results: 1). Both dietary methionine and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate intake are significantly associated with plasma homocysteine. 2). Dietary methionine is related to AP risk in 2R3R-TS wildtype subjects, while dietary B12 is similarly related to this phenotype in individuals heterozygous for C1420T-SHMT, A2756G-MS and 844ins68-CBS, and in those recessive for 2R3R-TS. 3). Dietary methionine has a marginal influence on plasma homocysteine level in C1420T-SHMT heterozygotes, while B6 exhibits the same effect on homocysteine in C776G-TCN2 homozygote recessive subjects. Natural 5-methyltetrahydrofolate intake is interesting: Wildtype A1298C-MTHFR, heterozygote C677T-MTHFR, wildtype A2756G-MS and recessive A66G-MSR individuals all show a significant reciprocal association with homocysteine. 4). Stepwise regression of all genotypes to predict risk for AP indicated A2756G-MS and A66G-MSR to be most relevant (p= 0.0176 and 0.0408 respectively). Results were corrected for age and gender. Conclusion: A methylation diet influences methyl group synthesis in the regulation of blood homocysteine level, and is modulated by genetic interactions. Methylation-related nutrients also interact with key genes to modify risk of AP, a precursor of colorectal cancer. Independent of diet, two methylation-related genes (A2756G-MS and A66G-MSR) were directly associated with AP occurrence.

DOI 10.1016/j.bbacli.2014.11.005
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Mark Lucock, Paul Roach, Zoe Yates, Martin Veysey
2015 Beckett EL, Martin C, Duesing K, Jones P, Furst J, Yates Z, et al., 'Vitamin D receptor genotype modulates the correlation between vitamin D and circulating levels of let-7a/b and vitamin D intake in an elderly cohort', Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, 7 264-273 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1159/000381676
Citations Scopus - 6Web of Science - 5
Co-authors John Furst, Mark Lucock, Zoe Yates, Martin Veysey
2015 Beckett EL, Martin C, Choi JH, King K, Niblett S, Boyd L, et al., 'Folate status, folate-related genes and serum miR-21 expression: Implications for miR-21 as a biomarker', BBA Clinical, 4 45-51 (2015) [C1]

© 2015.Background: Free circulating microRNA (miRNA) in serum may be valuable biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis. miR-21, the archetypal oncogenic miRNA, has been pro... [more]

© 2015.Background: Free circulating microRNA (miRNA) in serum may be valuable biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis. miR-21, the archetypal oncogenic miRNA, has been proposed as a biomarker for colorectal cancer and its benign precursor, adenomatous polyps. However, it is now becoming clear that circulating miRNA profiles may be sensitive to lifestyle and environmental influences. Dietary components involved in one-carbon metabolism are particularly well placed to modulate miRNA expression through an influence on DNA methylation pathways. Methods: We investigated the role of methyl group donors (folate, B12, cysteine, homocysteine), polymorphisms of the enzymes of one-carbon metabolism, and serum miR-21 expression in a primary case-control cohort (colonoscopy confirmed adenomatous colon polyps vs controls; n. =. 253) and a secondary cross-sectional cohort (over 65s; n. =. 649). The relationships between these parameters and serum miR-21 levels were assessed, stratified by gender. Conclusions: Serum miR-21 expression was related to occurrence of adenomatous polyps in females, but not males. Folate levels and MTHFR-C677T genotype was associated with miR-21 expression in both genders. Additionally, DHFR-19 del and MSR-A66G were associated with miR-21 expression in females and males, respectively. Stimulation with excess folate increased expression of miR-21 in colon cancer cell lines. General significance: This study demonstrates that serum miR-21 expression correlates with folate status and related genetic status. This may have consequences for the proposed use of miR-21 as a colorectal cancer biomarker.

DOI 10.1016/j.bbacli.2015.06.006
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 3
Co-authors Mark Lucock, Katrina King, Zoe Yates, Martin Veysey
2014 Beckett EL, Veysey M, Ng X, Boyd L, Tang S, Yates Z, et al., 'Bitter taste phenotype better predicts folate status than tas2r38 bitter receptor genotype alone in a colonoscopy cohort', Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism, 1 13-14 (2014)
DOI 10.1016/j.jnim.2014.10.039
2014 O'Reilly M, Hansbro PM, Horvat JC, Beckett EL, Harding R, Sozo F, 'Bronchiolar Remodeling in Adult Mice Following Neonatal Exposure to Hyperoxia: Relation to Growth', Anatomical Record, 297 758-769 (2014) [C1]

Preterm infants who receive supplemental oxygen for prolonged periods are at increased risk of impaired lung function later in life. This suggests that neonatal hyperoxia induces ... [more]

Preterm infants who receive supplemental oxygen for prolonged periods are at increased risk of impaired lung function later in life. This suggests that neonatal hyperoxia induces persistent changes in small conducting airways (bronchioles). Although the effects of neonatal hyperoxia on alveolarization are well documented, little is known about its effects on developing bronchioles. We hypothesized that neonatal hyperoxia would remodel the bronchiolar walls, contributing to altered lung function in adulthood. We studied three groups of mice (C57BL/6J) to postnatal day 56 (P56; adulthood) when they either underwent lung function testing or necropsy for histological analysis of the bronchiolar wall. One group inhaled 65% O2 from birth until P7, after which they breathed room air; this group experienced growth restriction (HE+GR group). We also used a group in which hyperoxia-induced GR was prevented by dam rotation (HE group). A control group inhaled room air from birth. At P56, the bronchiolar epithelium of HE mice contained fewer Clara cells and more ciliated cells, and the bronchiolar wall contained ~25% less collagen than controls; in HE+GR mice the bronchiolar walls had ~13% more collagen than controls. Male HE and HE+GR mice had significantly thicker bronchiolar epithelium than control males and altered lung function (HE males: greater dynamic compliance; HE+GR males: lower dynamic compliance). We conclude that neonatal hyperoxia remodels the bronchiolar wall and, in adult males, affects lung function, but effects are altered by concomitant growth restriction. Our findings may partly explain the reports of poor lung function in ex-preterm children and adults. Anat Rec, 297:758-769, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

DOI 10.1002/ar.22867
Citations Scopus - 10Web of Science - 9
Co-authors Jay Horvat, Philip Hansbro
2014 Sobinoff AP, Sutherland JM, Beckett EL, Stanger SJ, Johnson R, Jarnicki AG, et al., 'Damaging legacy: maternal cigarette smoking has long-term consequences for male offspring fertility.', Hum Reprod, 29 2719-2735 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.1093/humrep/deu235
Citations Scopus - 17Web of Science - 17
Co-authors Eileen Mclaughlin, Jessie Sutherland, Philip Hansbro, Adam Mccluskey
2013 Sobinoff AP, Beckett EL, Jarnicki AG, Sutherland JM, McCluskey A, Hansbro PM, McLaughlin EA, 'Scrambled and fried: Cigarette smoke exposure causes antral follicle destruction and oocyte dysfunction through oxidative stress', TOXICOLOGY AND APPLIED PHARMACOLOGY, 271 156-167 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.taap.2013.05.009
Citations Scopus - 17Web of Science - 15
Co-authors Eileen Mclaughlin, Adam Mccluskey, Jessie Sutherland, Philip Hansbro
2013 Beckett EL, Stevens RL, Jarnicki AG, Kim RY, Hanish I, Hansbro NG, et al., 'A new short-term mouse model of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease identifies a role for mast cell tryptase in pathogenesis', The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 131 752-762 (2013) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 58Web of Science - 57
Co-authors Ming Yang, Paul Foster, Nicole Hansbro, Peter Wark, Simon Keely, Philip Hansbro, Jay Horvat
2013 Harding R, O'Reilly M, Sozo F, Hansbro P, Horvat J, Beckett E, 'Persistent effects of neonatal hyperoxia on bronchioles and lung function in adult mice: additional effects of concomitant growth restriction', Paediatric Respiratory Reviews, 14 S69-S69 (2013)
DOI 10.1016/S1526-0542(13)70106-4
2012 Beckett EL, Phipps S, Starkey MR, Horvat JC, Beagley KW, Foster PS, Hansbro PM, 'TLR2, but not TLR4, is required for effective host defence against chlamydia respiratory tract infection in early life', PLOS One, 7 e39460 (2012) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 28Web of Science - 22
Co-authors Paul Foster, Jay Horvat, Philip Hansbro, Malcolm Starkey
2012 Starkey MR, Kim RY, Beckett EL, Schilter HC, Shim D, Essilfie A-T, et al., 'Chlamydia muridarum lung infection in infants alters hematopoietic cells to promote allergic airway disease in mice', PLoS One, 7 e42588 (2012) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 10
Co-authors Joerg Mattes, Philip Hansbro, Jay Horvat, Malcolm Starkey
2011 Jennings PC, Merriman-Jones JA, Beckett EL, Hansbro PM, Jones KT, 'Increased zona pellucida thickness and meiotic spindle disruption in oocytes from cigarette smoking mice', Human Reproduction, 26 878-884 (2011) [C1]
DOI 10.1093/humrep/deq393
Citations Scopus - 20Web of Science - 15
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Keith Jones
2011 Preston JA, Thorburn AN, Starkey MR, Beckett EL, Horvat JC, Wade MA, et al., 'Streptococcus pneumoniae infection suppresses allergic airways disease by inducing regulatory T-cells', European Respiratory Journal, 37 53-64 (2011) [C1]
DOI 10.1183/09031936.00049510
Citations Scopus - 42Web of Science - 37
Co-authors Malcolm Starkey, Jay Horvat, Peter Gibson, Philip Hansbro, Paul Foster
2010 Lau JY, Oliver BG, Baraket M, Beckett EL, Hansbro NG, Moir LM, et al., 'Fibulin-1 Is increased in asthma - A novel mediator of airway remodeling?', Plos One, 5 1-13 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0013360
Citations Scopus - 20Web of Science - 18
Co-authors Paul Foster, Philip Hansbro, Nicole Hansbro
2010 Hansbro PM, Warner S, Tracey JP, Arzey KE, Selleck P, O'Riley K, et al., 'Surveillance and analysis of avian influenza viruses, Australia', Emerging Infectious Diseases, 16 1896-1904 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.3201/eid1612.100776
Citations Scopus - 31Web of Science - 30
Co-authors Philip Hansbro
Show 21 more journal articles

Review (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Beckett EL, Yates Z, Veysey M, Duesing K, Lucock M, 'The role of vitamins and minerals in modulating the expression of microRNA', Nutrition Research Reviews (2014) [C1]

A growing number of studies in recent years have highlighted the importance of molecular nutrition as a potential determinant of health and disease. In particular, the ability of ... [more]

A growing number of studies in recent years have highlighted the importance of molecular nutrition as a potential determinant of health and disease. In particular, the ability of micronutrients to regulate the final expression of gene products via modulation of transcription and translation is now being recognised. Modulation of microRNA (miRNA) by nutrients is one pathway by which nutrition may mediate gene expression. MiRNA, a class of non-coding RNA, can directly regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. In addition, miRNA are able to indirectly influence gene expression potential at the transcriptional level via modulation of the function of components of the epigenetic machinery (DNA methylation and histone modifications). These mechanisms interact to form a complex, bi-directional regulatory circuit modulating gene expression. Disease-specific miRNA profiles have been identified in multiple disease states, including those with known dietary risk factors. Therefore, the role that nutritional components, in particular, vitamins and minerals, play in the modulation of miRNA profiles, and consequently health and disease, is increasingly being investigated, and as such is a timely subject for review. The recently posited potential for viable exogenous miRNA to enter human blood circulation from food sources adds another interesting dimension to the potential for dietary miRNA to contribute to gene modulation. © 2014 The Authors.

DOI 10.1017/S0954422414000043
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5
Co-authors Zoe Yates, Mark Lucock, Martin Veysey
2014 Beckett EL, Yates Z, Veysey M, Duesing K, Lucock M, 'The role of vitamins and minerals in modulating the expression of microRNA', Nutrition Research Reviews (2014)

Copyright © The Authors 2014.A growing number of studies in recent years have highlighted the importance of molecular nutrition as a potential determinant of health and disease. ... [more]

Copyright © The Authors 2014.A growing number of studies in recent years have highlighted the importance of molecular nutrition as a potential determinant of health and disease. In particular, the ability of micronutrients to regulate the final expression of gene products via modulation of transcription and translation is now being recognised. Modulation of microRNA (miRNA) by nutrients is one pathway by which nutrition may mediate gene expression. miRNA, a class of non-coding RNA, can directly regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. In addition, miRNA are able to indirectly influence gene expression potential at the transcriptional level via modulation of the function of components of the epigenetic machinery (DNA methylation and histone modifications). These mechanisms interact to form a complex, bi-directional regulatory circuit modulating gene expression. Disease-specific miRNA profiles have been identified in multiple disease states, including those with known dietary risk factors. Therefore, the role that nutritional components, in particular, vitamins and minerals, play in the modulation of miRNA profiles, and consequently health and disease, is increasingly being investigated, and as such is a timely subject for review. The recently posited potential for viable exogenous miRNA to enter human blood circulation from food sources adds another interesting dimension to the potential for dietary miRNA to contribute to gene modulation.

DOI 10.1017/S0954422414000043
Citations Scopus - 2
Co-authors Zoe Yates, Martin Veysey, Mark Lucock
2014 Beckett EL, Martin C, Yates Z, Veysey M, Duesing K, Lucock M, 'Bitter taste genetics-the relationship to tasting, liking, consumption and health', Food and Function (2014) [C1]

© 2014 The Royal Society of Chemistry.Bitter is the most complex of human tastes, and is arguably the most important. Aversion to bitter taste is important for detecting toxic co... [more]

© 2014 The Royal Society of Chemistry.Bitter is the most complex of human tastes, and is arguably the most important. Aversion to bitter taste is important for detecting toxic compounds in food; however, many beneficial nutrients also taste bitter and these may therefore also be avoided as a consequence of bitter taste. While many polymorphisms in TAS2R genes may result in phenotypic differences that influence the range and sensitivity of bitter compounds detected, the full extent to which individuals differ in their abilities to detect bitter compounds remains unknown. Simple logic suggests that taste phenotypes influence food preferences, intake and consequently health status. However, it is becoming clear that genetics only plays a partial role in predicting preference, intake and health outcomes, and the complex, pleiotropic relationships involved are yet to be fully elucidated. This journal is

DOI 10.1039/c4fo00539b
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Zoe Yates, Mark Lucock, Martin Veysey

Conference (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Beckett EL, Duesing K, Boyd L, Ng X, Yates Z, Veysey M, Lucock M, 'Bitter taste phenotype and TAS2R38 A49P genotype influence alcohol consumption in males but not females', Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism (2016)
DOI 10.1016/j.jnim.2015.12.188
2015 Kheir AO, King K, Niblett S, Martin C, Beckett E, Yates Z, et al., 'The relationship between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and homocysteine', JOURNAL OF GASTROENTEROLOGY AND HEPATOLOGY (2015) [E3]
Co-authors Martin Veysey, Katrina King, Zoe Yates, Mark Lucock
2015 Beckett E, Duesing K, Yates Z, Lucock M, Veysey M, 'miR-21 as a biomarker for adenomatous colon polyps: a potential sex dimorphism', JOURNAL OF GASTROENTEROLOGY AND HEPATOLOGY (2015) [E3]
Co-authors Martin Veysey, Mark Lucock, Zoe Yates
2015 Veysey M, King K, Niblett SH, Martin C, Beckett EL, Yates ZR, et al., 'Su1055 Homocysteine Status Is a Predictor of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Is Genotype Dependent', Gastroenterology (2015)
DOI 10.1016/S0016-5085(15)33585-X
2015 Veysey M, King K, Niblett SH, Martin C, Beckett EL, Yates ZR, et al., 'Homocysteine Status Is a Predictor of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Is Genotype Dependent', GASTROENTEROLOGY (2015) [E3]
Co-authors Martin Veysey, Zoe Yates, Katrina King, Mark Lucock
2013 Hansbro P, Beckett E, Stevens R, Jarnicki A, Kim R, Hanish I, et al., 'A short-term model of COPD identifies a role for mast cell tryptase', JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY (2013) [E3]
Co-authors Nicole Hansbro, Philip Hansbro, Simon Keely, Peter Wark, Paul Foster, Ming Yang, Jay Horvat
2013 Hansbro P, Horvat J, Essilfie A-T, Kim R, Mayall J, Starkey M, Foster P, 'Macrolides suppress key features of experimental steroid-sensitive and steroid-resistant asthma', JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY (2013) [E3]
Co-authors Jay Horvat, Philip Hansbro, Malcolm Starkey, Paul Foster
2013 Horvat JC, Essilfie A-T, Kim RY, Mayall JR, Starkey MR, Beckett EL, et al., 'MACROLIDES SUPPRESS KEY FEATURES OF EXPERIMENTAL STEROID-SENSITIVE AND STEROID-RESISTANT ASTHMA', RESPIROLOGY (2013) [E3]
Co-authors Paul Foster, Jodie Simpson, Peter Gibson, Philip Hansbro, Jay Horvat, Malcolm Starkey
2012 Sobinoff AP, Beckett EL, Nixon B, Roman SD, Hansbro PM, McLaughlin EA, 'The impact of maternal cigarette smoke exposure on the male germline', Abstracts. The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Endocrine Society of Australia and the Society for Reproductive Biology 2012 (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Brett Nixon, Eileen Mclaughlin, Philip Hansbro, Shaun Roman
2012 Horvat JC, Essilfie A-T, Kim RY, Mayall JR, Starkey MR, Beckett EL, et al., 'Efficacy of antibiotic-based therapeutic strategies for the treatment of infection-induced, steroid-resistant allergic airways disease', Respirology (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Jay Horvat, Malcolm Starkey, Paul Foster
2010 O'Reilly M, Harding R, Beckett EL, Horvat JC, Hansbro PM, Sozo F, 'Exposure of the immature mouse lung to hyperoxic gas: do structural changes in the lung cause long-term changes in lung function?', 24th Fetal and Neonatal Physiology Workshop of Australia and New Zealand. Program and Abstracts (2010) [E3]
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Jay Horvat
Show 8 more conferences
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $380,645

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20174 grants / $380,645

Interactions between diet, microbiome, genetics and epigentics in determining risk for adenomatous polyps$319,814

Funding body: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

Funding body NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)
Project Team Doctor Emma Beckett
Scheme Early Career Fellowships
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2020
GNo G1600442
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Light Sensitive Vitamins - Relationship with Environmental and Genetic Factors$31,531

Funding body: Central Coast Local Health District

Funding body Central Coast Local Health District
Project Team Associate Professor Mark Lucock, Associate Professor Martin Veysey, Doctor Emma Beckett
Scheme Research Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2020
GNo G1700259
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

DVCRI Research Support for ECF$20,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Emma Beckett
Scheme NHMRC ECF Support
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2020
GNo G1700563
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

To investigate how the way we taste food changes our gut bacteria - as an early career researcher$9,300

Funding body: AMP Limited

Funding body AMP Limited
Project Team Doctor Emma Beckett
Scheme AMP Tomorrow Fund
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo G1601148
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current1

Total current UON EFTSL

PhD0.4

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Light Sensitive Vitamins' Relationship with Environmental and Genetic Factors PhD (Food Science), Faculty of Science, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Research Collaborations

The map is a representation of a researchers co-authorship with collaborators across the globe. The map displays the number of publications against a country, where there is at least one co-author based in that country. Data is sourced from the University of Newcastle research publication management system (NURO) and may not fully represent the authors complete body of work.

Country Count of Publications
Australia 30
United States 4
Netherlands 3
Canada 2
Switzerland 1
More...
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News

UON researcher a Tomorrow Maker

November 25, 2016

University of Newcastle researcher Dr Emma Beckett has been awarded a grant in the AMP Tomorrow Fund round.

UON awarded over $5.6 million in NHMRC funding

October 27, 2016

The University of Newcastle (UON) is delighted to announce the following successful researchers in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council funding. With the help of this funding, our researchers aim to tackle a range of health-related issues that impact our communities.

Health Check

Health check: antioxidants vs free radicals

October 9, 2013

Health Check: the untrue story of antioxidants vs free radicals

The Conversation

Superfoods: not so super after all?

June 16, 2013

By Emma Beckett and Zoe Yates, University of Newcastle

Superfoods is a buzzword now part of mainstream food and health language, often touted as miracle foods that cure all ills, stave off ageing and disease, or aid weight loss.

January 1, 1970

Dr Emma Beckett

Positions

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of Medicine and Public Health
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Casual Lecturer
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Email emma.beckett@newcastle.edu.au
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