Julia Gauer studied for a PhD in Food Biochemistry at the University of Leeds

Julia Gauer

Can you briefly describe the area you are researching? 

I am looking at the effects of dietary plant derived phytochemicals on fructose transport and absorption by its specific transporter GLUT5 in relation to type II diabetes mellitus. 

What made you choose a research degree?

During my masters degree I had clinical placements in the hospital and got to interact with patients suffering from chronic diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A research degree allows me to understand what contributes to the onset of these diseases at a molecular level and how we can exercise prevention by studying what has an impact on particular biochemical reactions associated with their development.

What is it that makes you passionate about the subject you study?

Diet plays a massive role in the development of many risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Prevalence of obesity, for example, is consistent with the rise in sugar intake.

I am fascinated by all the mechanisms in the body that contribute to homeostasis and how excess sugar intake can have an impact on them.

In 2012 diabetes directly caused the death of 1.5 million people, being one of the biggest health burdens we face at the moment.

Dedicating my research to the investigation of a possible route to alleviate the risk factors of diabetes makes me very determined and passionate about my project.

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

Leeds is one of the top institutions in the country for food science research with many highly prestigious professors and researchers, one being my supervisor, who is very well recognised and extremely successful in this field.

How would you describe student life in Leeds?

Being a student in Leeds is great! Although it is quite a big city, Leeds is easy to navigate and it is very easy to get to campus from anywhere.

It is a very student friendly city, with a lot of discounts with your student card available in shops, restaurants and public transport.

The Leeds University Union (LUU) offers events for international students to meet other international and British students every week, so even if you are far from home you never feel alone.

There are also hundreds of societies to join, which from personal experience, is likely to be the place where you will meet your closest friends. 

What do you like best about the School of Food Science and Nutrition?

All staff working at my department are very friendly and always willing to help.

The products developed by the undergraduate students as part of their degrees are very interesting and involve a lot of fun things like tasting and sensory panels.

To add to that, events are organised for PhD students regularly, which helps us to get to know other people from the department and have a nice break from all our work.

Equipment in my research lab is state of the art and always available so we can obtain the best and most accurate results. Opportunities to collaborate with other researchers are also possible.

What university social/sporting activities have you become involved in during your spare time?

Since my first year at Leeds I have been a member of the swimming and water polo society. This means I get to represent the University in BUCS and Upolo, two major competitions for the sport.

I have recently also joined the rowing society and am preparing for my first ever race in December. Both societies are very prominent in the University and have a strong committee behind organising competitions as well as many incredibly fun social events.

What would you say to other students thinking of coming to Leeds University?

Not only is Leeds a great city to be a student in but also the research conducted at the University is of the highest quality.

The School of Food Science and Nutrition is one of the top in the country for research and is recognised as such worldwide.

People are welcoming and helpful, making sure you are able to do your absolute best. It is really a great place to be involved in research!