Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board comprises leading academics in nutrition, psychiatry, education, psychology and brain biochemistry to provide expert opinion on the evidence base for the recommendations for Food for the Brain campaigns. It provides advice and recommendations regarding all scientific issues posed by the work of the charity. The Board reviews and evaluates the elements of all projects contemplated by Food for the Brain to ensure they are consistent with the best available science.


1Professor David Smith
Faculty of Medical Science Deputy Head, Division of Medical Sciences. Professorial Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall. Professor Smith has spent his entire academic career at the University of Oxford and has held the Chair of Pharmacology since 1984. In 1985 the Medical Research Council appointed him Honorary Director of the newly established Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit in Oxford, which has pioneered ways of studying neural networks in the brain. In 1988 he established the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) – a clinicopathological longitudinal study. Alzheimer’s disease remains his main research interest today and he was the first Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, UK.


Julia Headshot Cropped 2016 1 Professor Julia Rucklidge
Julia is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychology and the Director of the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she completed her PhD at the University of Calgary in clinical psychology followed by a two year post-doctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. In 2000, she joined the Department of Psychology where she teaches child psychology in the Clinical Psychology Programme.

Her interests in nutrition and mental illness grew out of her own research showing poor outcomes for children with significant psychiatric illness despite receiving conventional treatments for their conditions. In the last decade, she and her lab has been running clinical trials investigating the role of broad-spectrum micronutrients in the expression of mental illness, specifically ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety and stress associated with the Canterbury earthquakes. Julia has over 100 peer reviewed publications and book chapters, has been frequently featured in the media, and has given invited talks all over the world on her work on nutrition and mental health. She was the recipient of the Ballin Award 2015 from the NZ Psychologist Society, an award that recognises notably significant contributions to the development or enhancement of clinical psychology in Aotearoa New Zealand. She was also named in the top 100 Most Influential Women in New Zealand in 2015 and received a Braveheart award in 2018 for her contribution to making Christchurch a better place to live. 


2Professor Helga Refsum MD PhD
Professor of Nutrition University of Oslo and visiting Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Oxford. She has pioneered research into homocysteine and related B vitamins for the past 20 years. She is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Refsum’s focus of research is the relation of B vitamins with aging. Her work is supported by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust UK.


Untitled -1 CopyProfessor Peter Ryan
Professor of Mental Health at Middlesex University, UK, and was previously Head of Training at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. He is Chair of ENTER Mental Health, a European research and training network, and has been a WHO Europe consultant in mental health since 2006. He has published five books, most recently Empowerment, Lifelong Learning and Recovery in Mental Health and Occupational Stress and the Management of Violence.


JeremyProfessor Jeremy P E Spencer
received his PhD from King’s College London in 1997 and is currently Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Reading.  His initial work focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal death in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. His current interests relate to how flavonoids and other polyphenols, found in a number of fruits, vegetables and beverages, promote brain and cardiovascular health. In particular, the focus is on their ability to modulate specific intracellular signaling pathways pivotal in promoting blood flow, protecting against neurotoxins, preventing neuroinflammation and in controlling memory, learning and neuro-cognitive performance. He is a member of the BBSRCs Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health Strategy Advisory Panel, is Editor-In-Chief of Nutrition and Aging and has published over 150 research manuscripts.