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The University of Southampton

Professor Graham Burdge BSc PhD

Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry

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Professor Graham Burdge is Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

There is increasing evidence that epigenetic processes are involved in non-communicable diseases. Nutrition may provide a safe, cost-effective means to correct these errors.

Professor Burdge graduated in Cell and Immunobiology from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1985 and was awarded a PhD from the Department of Medical Oncology, University of Southampton in 1990. He joined the Department of Child Health, University of Southampton, in 1987 to study pulmonary surfactant biosynthesis. During this period he developed an interest in polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism in pregnancy and fetal development. This included projects on the effect of ethanol exposure on the developing brain and the effect of fatty acids on neuroblastoma differentiation. He subsequently moved to the Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, where he carried out research on human polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism. He was awarded a British Heart Foundation Intermediate Fellowship in 2006, and was appointed Lecturer in Human Nutrition (2007) and subsequently Reader/Associate Professor in Human Nutrition (2009). He was awarded a personal chair in nutritional biochemistry in 2015.


Professor Burdge is Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Nutrition and of the Journal of Nutritional Science. He is currently a member of the World Cancer Research Fund grants panel and has served as a member of BBSRC research panel A. His is a scientific advisor to the Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour.



BSc, Cell and Immunobiology, The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1985)
PhD, University of Southampton (1990)

Appointments held

13/11/1989 to 16/02/1995 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

17/02/1995 to 31/08/1997 Senior Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

03/11/1997 to 09/10/1998 Scientific Officer, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Surrey.

12/10/1998 to 31/10/2003 Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

01/11/2003 to 31/12/2005 Senior Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton

01/01/2006 to 31/03/2007 British Heart Foundation Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Southampton

01/04/2007 to 30/03/2009 Lecturer in Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

01/04/2009 onwards Reader in Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

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Research interests


In collaboration with Professor Karen Lillycrop, Professor Burdge was the first to show that poor maternal nutrition altered the physiology of the offspring via changes in the epigenetic regulation of specific genes. He has subsequently shown that nutrition throughout the life course can modify epigenetic processes.

The focus of Professor Burdge’s current research is understanding the interaction between nutrition, in particular lipids, and the epigenome, and how this changes across the life course. The aim of his research is develop nutritional strategies acting via the epigenome to ameliorate non-communicable disease. His work is funded by the British Heart Foundation, the BBSRC, the European Commission and the Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust, The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and The Research Council of Norway, and by industrial partners. He is a founding member of the EpiGen Global Research Consortium. He has been identified by Thomson Reuters in 2014 and 2015 to been amongst the top 1% most cited authors in his field (

Research Projects

The effect of dietary lipids on DNA methylation

The purpose of this research is to characterize the effects of fatty acids on DNA methylation, to understand the underlying mechanisms and to develop nutritional interventions to modify DNA methylation marks in a targeted manner.

Identification of epigenetic biomarkers of non-communicable disease risk

The emerging role of epigenetics as a fundamental process in non-communicable disease suggests that possibility that epigenetic marks may be used to determine disease risk. One outcome of this research has been to identify epigenetic marks that predict risk of obesity in childhood.

How are induced traits passed between generations?

There is increasing evidence that physiological traits induced during development can be passed to subsequent generations. If so, this has important implications for understanding the potential impact of current patterns of health and disease on future generations. The focus of this work is to determine the role of epigenetic processes in the passage of induced traits between generations.

Can epigenetic processes be used to enhance the nutritional quality of food?

Epigenetic marks can be modified to change physiological processes. One potential application of these findings is that epigenetic processes in farmed animals could be modified to change the activity of metabolic pathways and so improve the nutritional quality of foods.





Human Development and Health

Affiliate Department(s)

Human Development and Physiology

Research project(s)

Effect of folic acid supplementation during the life course on cancer susceptibility

Identification of perinatal epigenetic markers of later phenotype

Postgraduate supervision


First supervisor

Leonie Grenfell MPhil/PhD
Miss Danya Agha-Jaffar MPhil / PhD

Second supervisor:

Miss Nicola Irvine
Miss Annette West

National and International Responsibilities

Editor-in-Chief, Nutrition Research Reviews
Member of the Editorial Board, British Journal of Nutrition
Member of the Editorial Board, Nutrition Research Reviews
Member of the Editorial Board, Journal of Developmental Origins of Health
and Disease
Member of the BBSRC Grant Awards Panel Pool of Experts
Member of the World Cancer Research Fund International Grants Committee

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Book Chapters



BIOL 3030. Module coordinator and lecturer.
BIOL 3029. Lecturer
BM4. Lecturer

Professor Graham Burdge
Institute of Developmental Sciences Building (MP 887) Southampton General Hospital Tremona Road Southampton SO16 6YD Tel: +44 (0)23 8120 5259 Fax: +44 (0)23 8120 5255 Email:

Room Number: SGH/B06/MP887

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