assoc. prof. dr. Zala Jenko Pražnikar – phd topics

Ime in priimek: assoc. prof. Zala Jenko Pražnikar, PhD
ARRS 24263

Research facility:
University of Primorska, Faculty of Health Sciences
Opportunities to collaborate with Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies

Research field according to ARRS classification
Science: Medical sciences
Field: Metabolic and hormonal disorders

Summary of research topic and field
The research will take place on the crossroad between biomedical and nutrition sciences. We will be interested in the connections among dietary intake, eating habits and health indicators, such as low-grade inflammation, lipid profile, and gut microbiota. Metabolism is regulated by extensive communication in the body through several pathways: through the nervous system, hormones, immune system, metabolites, and also through the gut microbiota. Altered signalization is observed in obese individuals, where visceral adipose tissue expansion leads to local inflammation. Low-grade systemic inflammation then may cause different metabolic complications, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It is important to be aware that the impaired metabolic signalization in metabolic syndrome is still reversible and can be attenuated with a change in dietary pattern. Therefore, knowing the effects of different eating patterns on this complex signalization is very important.

In the PhD thesis, we will be interested in how metabolism and signalization that regulates metabolism in the body are influenced by nutrition and whether health markers differ between omnivorous, vegans, vegetarians, individuals who consume predominantly animal foods, individuals who consume a low-carbohydrate diet and others. However, as there is increasing evidence linking the interplay between diet and the gut microbiota in relation to individual health, the doctoral thesis will also focus on studying the diversity of the microbial community of individuals.