Dr Jessica Ferguson

Dr Jessica Ferguson

Research Fellow

School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Jessica Ferguson obtained her PhD from The University of Newcastle in July 2019. Jessica’s PhD explored the cardiovascular health benefits of food bioactives in individuals with high cholesterol, focusing particular attention on phytosterols, curcumin and oat beta-glucan. Dr Ferguson is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist as well as current Co-President of the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA) Newcastle Group. She has expertise in designing and conducting randomised controlled trials that focus on lowering cardio-metabolic risk factors in free-living individuals from the community via dietary changes including incorporation of bioactives. Jessica’s research has been published in leading nutrition journals, such as Progress in Lipid Research, Metabolism - Clinical & Experimental and Clinical Nutrition. Her recent research on curcumin and phytosterols for cholesterol management was recognized by the 2018 Junior Investigator Award by the Journal 'Metabolism - Clinical & Experimental' and the Top New Investigator Award by the International Society For the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) in 2018Her research has involved regular media engagement, including coverage on Australian television and radio, newspaper and web-based media sites. Jessica is passionate about equipping individuals with the self-efficacy to manage their cardio-metabolic disease risk factors for sustainable and effective cardio-protection in the long-term.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nutritional Biochemistry, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Cardiometabolic disease risk management
  • Complementary Medicine
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats and Oils
  • Dietetics
  • Functional Foods
  • Lipids
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Nutrition
  • Nutritional Biochemistry

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified 50
090899 Food Sciences not elsewhere classified 25
111103 Nutritional Physiology 25

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Research Fellow University of Newcastle
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Australia
Casual Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/3/2015 -  Accredited Practising Dietitian / Accredited Nutritionist (Private Practice) Feast For Health
Australia

Awards

Award

Year Award
2018 ISSFAL Top New Investigator Award
International Society For the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL)
2018 2018 Metabolism Award for Junior Investigators
Metabolism - Clinical & Experimental
2018 2018 Innovation Award
Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition - The University of Newcastle
2017 Dietitians Association of Australia Healthcare Professional Program Travel Grant 2017
Dietitians Association of Australia

Nomination

Year Award
2017 Competitively nominated as runner-up by the University of Newcastle to attend the Australian Academy of Science 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting - Germany
University of Newcastle

Research Award

Year Award
2018 ISSFAL New Investigator Award
International Society For the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL)
2018 ISSFAL Travel Award
AlaskOmega
2018 Best Paper Award in the theme of Clinical Experimental Nutrition for 2015, 2016 and 2018
Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle
2018 Best oral presentation for abstract titled ‘Oat β-Glucan Enhances the Lipid-Lowering Effects of Phytosterols in Individuals with Hypercholesterolaemia.’
Nutrition Society of Australia (Newcastle Branch)
2014 Best Poster Presentation for abstract titled ‘Association between omega-3 PUFA and blood lipid profile in older Australians.’
Nutrition Society of Australia (Newcastle Branch)

Scholarship

Year Award
2017 Hunter Medical Research Institute Greaves Family Postgraduate Top-Up Scholarship
Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)
2016 Hunter Medical Research Institute Future Medical Research Scholarship
Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)
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Publications

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


Chapter (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Ferguson JJA, Dias CB, Garg ML, 'Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and hyperlipidaemias', Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Keys to Nutritional Health 67-78 (2016) [B1]

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. All rights reserved. Hyperlipidaemia is a multifaceted risk factor for cardiovascular disease, involving multiple aetiologies... [more]

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. All rights reserved. Hyperlipidaemia is a multifaceted risk factor for cardiovascular disease, involving multiple aetiologies such as diet, lifestyle, and/or metabolic effects within the body. Dietary long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) have been shown to regulate key pathways involved in lipid metabolism. By this action, n-3PUFA favourably modulate blood lipids such as triglycerides (TG), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). The hypolipidaemic effects of dietary supplementation with n-3PUFA may be enhanced by combination drug or natural therapies and have the potential to reduce dependence on lipid-lowering drug therapy. The widespread modulatory effects on blood lipid profile are not only dose dependent, but also dependent on genetic make-up and gender differences. Further investigation into the modulatory effects of dietary n-3PUFA on blood lipids is warranted in order to optimize the efficacy of n-3PUFA therapy for the prevention and management of hyperlipidaemias. Future studies should investigate the influence of gender and genotypic variants on the effects of dietary n-3PUFA in order to optimize dietary strategies and recommendations to prevent and manage hyperlipidaemias.

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40458-5_6
Co-authors Manohar Garg

Journal article (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2020 Ferguson JJ, Stojanovski E, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML, 'High molecular weight oat ß-glucan enhances lipid-lowering effects of phytosterols. A randomised controlled trial', Clinical Nutrition, 39 80-89 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.clnu.2019.02.007
Co-authors Lesley Wicks, Manohar Garg, Elizabeth Stojanovski
2020 Austin G, Ferguson JJ, Thota RN, Singh H, Burrows T, Garg ML, 'Postprandial lipaemia following consumption of a meal enriched with medium chain saturated and/or long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. A randomised cross-over study', Clinical Nutrition, (2020)

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Background & aims: Postprandial lipaemic response has emerged as a risk factor for cardiovascula... [more]

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Background & aims: Postprandial lipaemic response has emerged as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Dietary fats such as medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCSFA) and long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA) are known to reduce postprandial lipaemic responses. The combination of the two could potentially have complementary and/or synergistic effects for optimising cardiovascular health. This study aims to investigate the effects of MCSFA (coconut oil) with or without LCn-3PUFA (fish oil) inclusion in the test meal on postprandial blood lipids in healthy adults. Methods: In a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, 2 × 2 factorial cross-over study, participants (n = 15) were randomised to receive four standardised isocaloric test meals. Test meals include: placebo [PL, containing no fish oil (0 g EPA & DHA) or coconut oil (0 g MCSFA)], fish oil [FO, 6 g fish oil (3.85 g EPA & DHA), containing no coconut oil (0 g MCSFA)], coconut oil [CO, 18.65 g coconut oil (15 g MCSFA), containing no fish oil (0 g EPA & DHA)] and coconut oil + fish oil [COFO, 18.65 g coconut oil (15 g MCSFA) + 6 g fish oil (3.85 g EPA & DHA)]; all providing a total fat content of 33.5 g. Participants received all four treatments on four separate test days with at least 3 days washout in between. Blood parameters were measured by finger pricks at 7 timepoints between 0 and 300min. The primary outcome of this study was the change in postprandial TG concentrations with secondary outcomes as total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood glucose concentrations. Results: TG area under the curve (AUC) (mmol/L/min) was significantly lower for FO (383.67, p = 0.0125) and COFO (299.12, p = 0.0186) in comparison to PL (409.17) only. TG incremental area under the curve (iAUC) (mmol/L/min) was significantly lower with COFO (59.67) in comparison to CO (99.86), (p = 0.0480). Compared to PL, the change in absolute TG concentrations (mmol/L) from baseline to post TG peak time (180min) after FO were significantly less at 240min (0.39 vs 0.15), 270min (0.2 vs 0.1), and 300min (0.28 vs 0.06), and after COFO was significantly less at 300min (0.28 vs 0.16) (p < 0.05). No significant differences in postprandial AUC and iAUC for any other blood parameters were reported. Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that MCSFA with or without LCn-3PUFA but not MCSFA alone are effective in reducing postprandial TG in healthy individuals.

DOI 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.06.027
Co-authors Manohar Garg, Tracy Burrows
2019 Ferguson JJA, Wolska A, Remaley AT, Stojanovski E, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML, 'Bread enriched with phytosterols with or without curcumin modulates lipoprotein profiles in hypercholesterolaemic individuals. A randomised controlled trial', FOOD & FUNCTION, 10 2515-2527 (2019) [C1]
DOI 10.1039/c8fo02512f
Citations Scopus - 1
Co-authors Lesley Wicks, Manohar Garg, Elizabeth Stojanovski
2018 Thota RN, Ferguson JJA, Abbott KA, Dias CB, Garg ML, 'Science behind the cardio-metabolic benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: biochemical effects vs. clinical outcomes', Food and Function, 9 3576-3596 (2018) [C1]

© The Royal Society of Chemistry. Lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the Greenland Inuit, Northern Canada and Japan has been attributed to their consumption of sea... [more]

© The Royal Society of Chemistry. Lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the Greenland Inuit, Northern Canada and Japan has been attributed to their consumption of seafood rich in long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA). While a large majority of pre-clinical and intervention trials have demonstrated heart health benefits of LCn-3PUFA, some studies have shown no effects or even negative effects. LCn-3PUFA have been shown to favourably modulate blood lipid levels, particularly a reduction in circulating levels of triglycerides. High density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels are elevated following dietary supplementation with LCn-3PUFA. Although LCn-3PUFA have been shown to increase low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels, the increase is primarily in the large-buoyant particles that are less atherogenic than small-dense LDL particles. The anti-inflammatory effects of LCn-3PUFA have been clearly outlined with inhibition of NFkB mediated cytokine production being the main mechanism. In addition, reduction in adhesion molecules (intercellular adhesion molecule, ICAM and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, VCAM-1) and leukotriene production have also been demonstrated following LCn-3PUFA supplementation. Anti-aggregatory effects of LCn-3PUFA have been a subject of controversy, however, recent studies showing sex-specific effects on platelet aggregation have helped resolve the effects on hyperactive platelets. Improvements in endothelium function, blood flow and blood pressure after LCn-3PUFA supplementation add to the mechanistic explanation on their cardio-protective effects. Modulation of adipose tissue secretions including pro-inflammatory mediators and adipokines by LCn-3PUFA has re-ignited interest in their cardiovascular health benefits. The aim of this narrative review is to filter out the reasons for possible disparity between cohort, mechanistic, pre-clinical and clinical studies. The focus of the article is to provide possible explanation for the observed controversies surrounding heart health benefits of LCn-3PUFA.

DOI 10.1039/c8fo00348c
Citations Scopus - 22Web of Science - 18
Co-authors Manohar Garg
2018 Ferguson JJA, Stojanovski E, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML, 'Curcumin potentiates cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols in hypercholesterolaemic individuals. A randomised controlled trial', Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 82 22-35 (2018) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.metabol.2017.12.009
Citations Scopus - 21Web of Science - 21
Co-authors Manohar Garg, Elizabeth Stojanovski, Lesley Wicks
2017 Thota RN, Abbott KA, Ferguson JJA, Veysey M, Lucock M, Niblett S, et al., 'InsuTAG: A novel physiologically relevant predictor for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.', Scientific reports, 7 15204 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-15460-z
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Suzanne Niblett, Martin Veysey, Manohar Garg, Katrina King, Mark Lucock
2016 Ferguson JJA, Stojanovski E, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML, 'Fat type in phytosterol products influence their cholesterol-lowering potential: A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs', Progress in Lipid Research, 64 16-29 (2016) [C1]

© 2016 Elsevier B.V. The most common form of phytosterol (PS) fortified foods are fat spreads and dairy products. The predominant fats used are soybean/sunflower (SS) or rapeseed/... [more]

© 2016 Elsevier B.V. The most common form of phytosterol (PS) fortified foods are fat spreads and dairy products. The predominant fats used are soybean/sunflower (SS) or rapeseed/canola (RC) oils and animal fat (D) in dairy products. This review aimed to investigate whether the carrier fat is a determinant of the hypocholesterolaemic effects of PS fortified foods. Databases were searched using relevant keywords and published RCTs from 1990 investigating the effects of dietary PS intervention (=¿1.5¿g per day) on total cholesterol and LDL-C were included. After methodological quality assessment and data extraction, a total of 32 RCTs (RC, n¿=¿15; SS, n¿=¿9; D, n¿=¿8) were included. As expected, all fat groups significantly reduced TC and LDL-C (p¿<¿0.01). When compared across different carrier fats, RC as the main carrier fat, reduced LDL-C significantly more than the SS spreads (p¿=¿0.01). Therefore, a combination of monounsaturated fatty acid rich spread with adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (as evident in RC spreads) may be the superior carrier fat for the delivery of PS for optimal blood cholesterol-lowering. The findings of this research provide useful evidence for optimising the hypocholesterolaemic effects of PS and support further investigation into the possible mechanisms behind these findings.

DOI 10.1016/j.plipres.2016.08.002
Citations Scopus - 21Web of Science - 21
Co-authors Lesley Wicks, Manohar Garg, Elizabeth Stojanovski
2016 Ferguson JJA, Veysey M, Lucock M, Niblett S, King K, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML, 'Association between omega-3 index and blood lipids in older Australians', Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 27 233-240 (2016) [C1]

© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Management of hyperlipidaemia remains a cornerstone therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturat... [more]

© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Management of hyperlipidaemia remains a cornerstone therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) has been shown to modulate blood lipid profiles and reduce the risk of developing CVD. However, studies relating objective measures of long-term dietary n-3 PUFA intake and circulating lipid levels in older adults are limited. Thus, we aimed to determine whether there is an association between erythrocyte n-3 PUFA status (omega-3 index, O3I) and blood lipid profiles in older adults. A sample of adults aged 65-95 years who participated in the Retirement Health and Lifestyle Study was evaluated. Outcome measures included O3I (% eicosapentaenoic acid+% docosahexaenoic acid) and fasting blood lipid profiles [total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol and triglyceride (TG)]. Two hundred and seventy-six subjects were included in the analyses. The mean±SD age was 77.6±7.4 years, and 40.9% were males. O3I was significantly higher in females compared to males. O3I was inversely associated with plasma TG (P<.001) and TC/HDL-cholesterol ratio (P<.05), and positively associated with HDL-cholesterol (P<.05), in all subjects. Associations between O3I and TG were evident in both females (r=-0.250, P<.01) and males (r=-0.225, P<.05). In females only, the odds of being hypertriglyceridaemic were highest in those with lowest O3I (P=006). Trends for hypercholesterolaemia and elevated LDL risk were converse between males and females. Long-term n-3 PUFA status is associated with blood lipid profiles in older Australians. Our findings support the development and implementation of age-specific dietary strategies to reduce the risk of CVD via improving the O3I.

DOI 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.09.010
Citations Scopus - 14Web of Science - 10
Co-authors Manohar Garg, Martin Veysey, Mark Lucock, Katrina King, Lesley Wicks, Suzanne Niblett
Show 5 more journal articles

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Ferguson JJA, Stojanovski E, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML, 'Lipid-Lowering Potential of Combined Phytosterols and Curcumin Supplementation in Hypercholesterolaemic Individuals', FASEB JOURNAL, Chicago, IL (2017)
Co-authors Manohar Garg, Lesley Wicks, Elizabeth Stojanovski
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $272,179

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


20201 grants / $195,500

RecoveR8: Optimizing healthy ageing and improving well-being$195,500

Funding body: Tismor Health and Wellness Pty Ltd

Funding body Tismor Health and Wellness Pty Ltd
Project Team Professor Manohar Garg, Doctor David Bentley, Doctor Jessica Ferguson
Scheme Research Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2020
Funding Finish 2021
GNo G2000808
Type Of Funding C3111 - Aust For profit
Category 3111
UON Y

20173 grants / $76,679

Complementary and/or synergistic effects of Phytosterols and Curcumin for reducing Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Hyperlipidaemic Individuals$61,679

Funding body: BASF (Asia Pacific)

Funding body BASF (Asia Pacific)
Project Team

Professor Manohar Garg

Scheme Newtrition Asia Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2018
GNo
Type Of Funding C3211 - International For profit
Category 3211
UON N

Optimising lipid-lowering ability of dietary phytosterols for reducing cardiovascular disease risk$10,000

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)

Funding body Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)
Project Team

Professor Manohar Garg, Associate Professor Lesley MacDonald-Wicks, Doctor Elizabeth Stojanovski

Scheme Greaves family postgraduate scholarship in medical research
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding C3120 - Aust Philanthropy
Category 3120
UON N

Optimising lipid-lowering ability of dietary phytosterols for reducing cardiovascular disease risk$5,000

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)

Funding body Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI)
Project Team

Professor Manohar Garg, Associate Professor Lesley MacDonald-Wicks, Doctor Elizabeth Stojanovski

Scheme HMRI Student Association 'Future' Postgraduate Medical Research Scholarship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo
Type Of Funding C3120 - Aust Philanthropy
Category 3120
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current1

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2020 PhD Dietary Supplementation with Medium Chain Saturated and/or Long Chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids as a Treatment Option for Hypertriglyceridemia PhD (Nutritional Biochemistry), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Dr Jessica Ferguson

Positions

Research Fellow
Nutraceuticals Research Program
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Casual Lecturer
Nutraceuticals Research Program
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Email jessica.ferguson@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 5636

Office

Room MS.305
Building Medical Sciences Building
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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