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Dr Dora Pereira MEng, PhD

Dr Dora Pereira, MEng, PhD

Research Group Leader

Division of Microbiology and Parasitology

Project: A novel nano-iron supplement (IHAT) to safely combat iron deficiency and anaemia (IDA) in young children: a double-blind randomised controlled trial.

Wellcome Trust Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research
Department of Pathology
University of Cambridge
Tennis Court Road

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 764864


I hold an MEng (hons) in Biochemical Engineering from Técnico Lisboa (Portugal) and a PhD in Food and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Reading (UK). Prior to my PhD, I worked for 2 years as an R&D bioprocess engineer in the pharmaceutical industry. 

After my PhD I joined the Medical Research Council Unit in Cambridge where I was part of the team developing a novel iron supplement for the safe treatment of iron deficiency. In 2014, the team was awarded the first prize at the RSC Emerging Technologies Competition for the development of a novel iron supplement with potential for global benefit.

I now lead the first clinical trail with this new iron compound to be conducted in children.

I feel very fortunate to have truly taken my research from the bench to the clinic.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the risks and benefits of dietary and supplemental iron, particularly in what relates to gut health and the gut microbiome. I lead collaborative research projects on mechanisms of intestinal iron absorption, impact of oral iron on the gut microbiome and intestinal infection, association between oral iron and colon cancer risk, and health economics of oral iron supplementation in the UK.

My main role is to lead the Phase II clinical development of a novel nano iron supplement I co-invented, named IHAT, in collaboration with the MRC Unit The Gambia and the MRC International Nutrition Group.  With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, under their Grand Challenge New Interventions for Global Health scheme, we are conducting one large field trial in anaemic young children living in some of the most deprived and rural communities in The Gambia, where we will test the efficacy and safety of IHAT– recently awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technology Award



My ambition is that IHAT will provide a safer means of combating iron deficiency anaemia in children at risk of enteric infection in resource-poor settings. 

Research Supervision

Opportunities for student short-term placements in the laboratory in The Gambia, any period 1 month- 4 months. 

Key Publications


Prentice A.M., Mendoza Y.A., Pereira D., Cerami C., Wegmuller R., Constable A., and Spieldenner J. Dietary strategies for improving iron status: balancing safety and efficacy. Nutrition Reviews. 75(1): 49-60.


Bellmann S., Carlander D., Fasano A., Momcilovic D., Scimeca J.A., Waldman W.J., Gombau L., Tsytsikova L., Canady R., Pereira D.I., Lefebvre D.E. Mammalian gastrointestinal tract parameters modulating the integrity, surface properties, and absorption of food-relevant nanomaterials. Wiley interdisciplinary reviews Nanomedicine and nanobiotechnology 7(5):609-622.


Tolkien, Z., Stecher, L., Mander, A.P., Pereira, D.I.A.*, and Powell, J.J.* Ferrous sulfate supplementation causes significant gastrointestinal side-effects in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLos One. 10(2): e0117383.

* joint senior author


Pereira, D.I.A., Lederer, B.I. and Powell, J.J. A balanced salt solution that prevents agglomeration of nano iron oxides in serum-free cellular assays. Materials Research Express. 2(1):015403.


Pereira, D. I. A., Aslam, M. F., Frazer, D. M., Schmidt, A., Walton, G. E., McCartney, A. L., Gibson, G. R., Anderson, G. J., and Powell, J. J. Dietary iron depletion at weaning imprints low gut microbiome diversity and this is not recovered with oral nano Fe(III). MicrobiologyOpen. 4(1):12-27.


Latunde-Dada, G. O., Pereira, D. I. A., Tempest, B., Ilyas, H., Flynn, A., Aslam, M., Simpson, R. J., and Powell, J. J. A nanoparticulate ferritin-core mimetic is well taken up by HuTu 80 duodenal cells and its absorption in mice is regulated by body iron.  Journal of Nutrition. 144 (12):1896-1902.


Pereira, D. I. A., Bruggraber, S. F. A., Faria, N., Poots, L. K., Tagmount, M. A., Aslam, M. F., Frazer, D. M., Vulpe, C. D., Anderson, G. J., and Powell, J. J. Nanoparticulate iron(III) oxo-hydroxide delivers safe iron that is well absorbed and utilised in humans. Nanomedicine. 10 (8):1877-1886.


Aslam, M. F., Frazer, D. M., Faria, N., Bruggraber, S. F. A., Wilkins, S. J., Mirciov, C., Powell, J. J., Anderson, G. J., and Pereira, D.I.A. Ferroportin mediates the intestinal absorption of iron from a nanoparticulate ferritin core mimetic in mice. FASEB Journal. 28(8): 3671-8.


Pereira, D.I.A., Irving, S. M., Lomer, M. C. E., and Powell, J. J. A rapid, simple questionnaire to assess gastrointestinal symptoms after oral ferrous sulphate supplementation. BMC Gastroenterology. 14 (1): 103.


Powell, J.J., Bruggraber, S.F., Faria, N., Poots, L.K., Hondow, N., Pennycook, T.J., Latunde-Dada, G.O., Simpson, R.J., Brown, A.P., and Pereira, D.I. A nano-disperse ferritin-core mimetic that efficiently corrects anaemia without luminal iron redox activity. Nanomedicine. 10 (7): 1529-1538.


Pereira, D. I.*, Mergler, B. I.*, Faria, N., Bruggraber, S. F., Aslam, M. F., Poots, L. K., Prassmayer, L., Lonnerdal, B., Brown, A. P., and Powell, J. J. Caco-2 cell acquisition of dietary iron(III) invokes a nanoparticulate endocytic pathway. PLoS One. 8(11): e81250

*joint first author