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Dr Jill McKay

Associate Professor

Department: Applied Sciences

After completing her first degree in Medical Microbiology at Newcastle University, Jill joined the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle to undertake a PhD in Molecular Nutrition under the supervision of Prof. John Mathers. Jill continued her career at Newcastle University as a post-doctoral researcher and subsequently Lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology before joining Northumbria University as Senior Lecturer in 2018.

As a PhD student and post-doctoral researcher, Jill’s research interests focused on the developmental origins of health and disease. In this area she had a specific focus towards understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying associations observed between sub-optimum nutrition during early development and adverse adult health. During her early career, she utilised animal models and human cohorts to investigate these associations, using a range of molecular techniques including gene expression analysis (candidate specific and transcriptomic approaches), epigenetic analysis (DNA methylation assessment at the candidate and methylomic level) and genotyping. 

In her role as lecturer, Jill’s portfolio expanded to include interests in the developmental origins of childhood cancer (with specific interests in leukaemia) and obesity. More recently she has begun to develop mechanistic and long term outcome studies to help understand the underlying mechanisms and risk factors associated with treatment related toxicities and long term adverse effects for childhood cancer survivors.  

Jill McKay

Campus Address

447 Northumberland Building



Dr McKay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Sciences, with an expertise in molecular epidemiology specifically focused on the developmental origins of health and disease. After completing her first degree in Medical Microbiology at Newcastle University, Jill joined the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle to undertake a PhD in Molecular Nutrition under the supervision of Prof. John Mathers. Jill continued her career at Newcastle University as a post-doctoral researcher and subsequently Lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology before joining Northumbria University as Senior Lecturer in 2018, and subsequently promoting to Associate Professor in 2020.

In her >20 year career, Jill’s research interests have focused towards understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning the relationship between early life exposures and subsequent later life health outcomes. During her early career, she utilised animal models and human cohorts to investigate the associations between maternal folate intake during pregnancy and offspring health, using a range of molecular techniques including gene expression analysis (candidate specific and transcriptomic approaches), epigenetic analysis (DNA methylation assessment at the candidate and methylomic level) and genotyping.

In her academic role, Jill’s portfolio has expanded to include interests in a range of exposures which may influence health outcomes including childhood cancer, the late health effects of childhood cancer survivors, obesity and neurocognition. In particular, she has developed a unique, cutting-edge internationally recognized research portfolio investigating the influence of early life exposures on childhood leukaemia, with a focus on understanding how exposures may influence molecular events initiating disease. Her ongoing project supported by the World Cancer Research Fund is currently investigating how maternal folate levels may influence the molecular triggers (including chromosomal translocations and DNA methylation changes) involved in the initiation of childhood leukaemia development (The role of maternal folate in childhood leukaemia development - WCRF International). Meanwhile, she is also investigating the potential role exposure to microbial diversity through day care attendance may play in the development of non-communicable diseases (including leukaemia) in children.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Environmental microbiome in the home and daycare settings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and potential risk of non-communicable disease in children, McKay, J., Crown, M., Bashton, M., Pearce, D., Entwistle, J., Sangal, V. Feb 2024, In: Environmental Microbiology Reports
  • Influence of maternal folate depletion on Art3 DNA methylation in the murine adult brain: potential consequences for brain and neurocognitive health, Kok, D., Saunders, R., Nelson, A., Smith, D., Ford, D., Mathers, J., McKay, J. 1 May 2024, In: Mutagenesis
  • Intake and biomarkers of folate and folic acid as determinants of chemotherapy-induced toxicities in patients with colorectal cancer: a cohort study, Kok, D., van Duijnhoven, F., Lubbermanb, F., McKay, J., van Lanen, A., Winkels, R., Wesselink, E., van Halterend, H., de Wilt, J., Ulrich, C., Ulvik, A., Ueland, P., Kampman, E. 1 Feb 2024, In: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • Folate, folic acid, and chemotherapy-induced toxicities: A systematic literature review, Zwart, N., Franken, M., Tissing, W., Lubberman, F., McKay, J., Kampman, E., Kok, D. 1 Aug 2023, In: Critical reviews in oncology/hematology
  • Anti-cancer therapy is associated with long-term epigenomic changes in childhood cancer survivors, Robinson, N., Casement, J., Gunter, M., Huybrechts, I., Agudo, A., Barranco, M., Eichelmann, F., Johnson, T., Kaaks, R., Pala, V., Panico, S., Sandanger, T., Schultze, M., Travis, R., Tumino, R., Vineis, P., Weiderpass, E., Skinner, R., Sharp, L., McKay, J., Strathdee, G. 20 Jul 2022, In: British Journal of Cancer
  • Impact of in Utero Folate Exposure on Dna Methylation and Its Potential Relevance for Later‐Life Health – Evidence from Mouse Models Translated to Human Cohorts, Kok, D., Richmond, R., Adriaens, M., Evelo, C., Ford, D., Mathers, J., Robinson, N., McKay, J. 1 Feb 2022, In: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research
  • Childhood DNA methylation as a marker of early life rapid weight gain and subsequent overweight, Robinson, N., Brown, H., Antoun, E., Godfrey, K., Hanson, M., Lillycrop, K., Crozier, S., Murray, R., Pearce, M., Relton, C., Albani, V., McKay, J. 1 Dec 2021, In: Clinical Epigenetics
  • The Biological and Social Determinants of Childhood Obesity: Comparison of 2 Cohorts 50 Years Apart: comparison of two cohorts 50 years apart, Robinson, N., McKay, J., Pearce, M., Albani, V., Wright, C., Adamson, A., Brown, H. 1 Jan 2021, In: The Journal of Pediatrics
  • DNA methylation and the hygiene hypothesis: connecting respiratory allergy and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Langie, S., Timms, J., De Boever, P., McKay, J. 1 Oct 2019, In: Epigenomics
  • Exploring a potential mechanistic role of DNA methylation in the relationship between in utero and post-natal environmental exposures and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Timms, J., Relton, C., Sharp, G., Rankin, J., Strathdee, G., McKay, J. 1 Dec 2019, In: International Journal of Cancer

Jessica Saville Environmental determinants of chromosomal translocations and DNA methylation: towards identifying and understanding modifiable risk factors of childhood leukaemia Start Date: 01/10/2018 End Date: 23/06/2023


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