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Dr Dora Pereira MEng, PhD

Dr Dora Pereira, MEng, PhD

Research Group Leader

Division of Microbiology and Parasitology


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

In vitro and human studies on the relationship between dietary iron and the gut microbiome.

Health economics of iron supplementation in pre-menopausal women in primary care in the UK.

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 trial 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 nutrition, particularly in what relates to gut health, gut microbiome, co-morbidities and infection. 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, health economics of oral iron supplementation in the UK, efficacy and safety field clinical trials in rural Africa.

My main current 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

1.         Pereira D, Mohammed N, Ofordile O, Camara F, Baldeh B, Mendy T, Sanyang C, Jallow A, Hossain I, Wason J et al: A novel nano-iron supplement to safely combat iron deficiency and anaemia in young children: The IHAT-GUT double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial protocol [version 1; referees: 1 approved with reservations]. Gates Open Research 2018, 2(48). doi: 10.12688/gatesopenres.12866.1

2.         Stelle I, Kalea AZ, Pereira DIA: Iron deficiency anaemia: experiences and challenges. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2018:1-8. doi: 10.1017/s0029665118000460 [published Online First: 2018/07/11]

3.         Scheers NM, Pereira DIA, Faria N, Powell JJ: Ferric citrate and ferric EDTA but not ferrous sulfate drive amphiregulin-mediated activation of the MAP kinase ERK in gut epithelial cancer cells. Oncotarget 2018, 9(24):17066-17077.

4.         Bhandari S, Pereira DIA, Chappell HF, Drakesmith H: Intravenous Irons: From Basic Science to Clinical Practice. Pharmaceuticals (Basel) 2018, 11(3). doi: 10.3390/ph11030082 [published Online First: 2018/08/29]

5.         Prentice AM, Mendoza YA, Pereira D, Cerami C, Wegmuller R, Constable A, Spieldenner J: Dietary strategies for improving iron status: balancing safety and efficacy. Nutr Rev 2017, 75(1):49-60.

6.         Ahmad Fuzi SF, Koller D, Bruggraber S, Pereira DI, Dainty JR, Mushtaq S: A 1-h time interval between a meal containing iron and consumption of tea attenuates the inhibitory effects on iron absorption: a controlled trial in a cohort of healthy UK women using a stable iron isotope. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017, 106(6):1413-1421.

7.         Tolkien Z, Stecher L, Mander AP, Pereira DI, Powell JJ: Ferrous sulfate supplementation causes significant gastrointestinal side-effects in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2015, 10(2):e0117383.

8.         Pereira DIA, Aslam MF, Frazer DM, Schmidt A, Walton GE, McCartney AL, Gibson GR, Anderson GJ, Powell JJ: Dietary iron depletion at weaning imprints low microbiome diversity and this is not recovered with oral nano Fe(III). MicrobiologyOpen 2015, 4(1):12-27.

9.         Powell JJ, Bruggraber SFA, Faria N, Poots LK, Hondow N, Pennycook TJ, Latunde-Dada GO, Simpson RJ, Brown AP, Pereira DIA: A nano-disperse ferritin-core mimetic that efficiently corrects anemia without luminal iron redox activity. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine 2014, 10(7):1529-1538.

10.       Pereira DIA, Couto Irving SS, Lomer MC, Powell JJ: A rapid, simple questionnaire to assess gastrointestinal symptoms after oral ferrous sulphate supplementation. BMC Gastroenterol 2014, 14(1):103.

11.       Pereira DIA, Bruggraber SFA, Faria N, Poots LK, Tagmount MA, Aslam MF, Frazer DM, Vulpe CD, Anderson GJ, Powell JJ: Nanoparticulate iron(III) oxo-hydroxide delivers safe iron that is well absorbed and utilised in humans. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine 2014, 10(8):1877-1886.

12.       Latunde-Dada GO, Pereira DI, Tempest B, Ilyas H, Flynn AC, Aslam MF, Simpson RJ, Powell JJ: A Nanoparticulate Ferritin-Core Mimetic Is Well Taken Up by HuTu 80 Duodenal Cells and Its Absorption in Mice Is Regulated by Body Iron. The Journal of Nutrition 2014, 144(12):1896-1902.

13.       Aslam MF, Frazer DM, Faria N, Bruggraber SF, Wilkins SJ, Mirciov C, Powell JJ, Anderson GJ, Pereira DI: Ferroportin mediates the intestinal absorption of iron from a nanoparticulate ferritin core mimetic in mice. Faseb J 2014, 28(8):3671-3678.

14.       Tolkien Z, Pereira DI, Prassmayer L, Fitt E, Pot G, Greenfield SM, Powell JJ: Dietary iron does not impact the quality of life of patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis: an observational study. Nutr J 2013, 12:152.

15.       Pereira DI, Mergler BI, Faria N, Bruggraber SF, Aslam MF, Poots LK, Prassmayer L, Lonnerdal B, Brown AP, Powell JJ: Caco-2 Cell Acquisition of Dietary Iron(III) Invokes a Nanoparticulate Endocytic Pathway. PLoS One 2013, 8(11):e81250.

16.       Mergler BI, Roth E, Bruggraber SFA, Powell JJ, Pereira DIA: Development of the Caco-2 Model for Assessment of Iron Absorption and Utilisation at Supplemental Levels. Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences 2012, 2(1):27-34.

17.       Pereira DIA, McCartney AL, Gibson GR: An in vitro study of the probiotic potential of a bile-salt-hydrolyzing Lactobacillus fermentum strain, and determination of its cholesterol-lowering properties. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2003, 69(8):4743-4752.

18.       Pereira DIA, Gibson GR: Effects of consumption of probiotics and prebiotics on serum lipid levels in humans. Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2002, 37(4):259-281.

19.       Pereira DIA, Gibson GR: Cholesterol assimilation by lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria isolated from the human gut. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2002, 68(9):4689-4693.





Inventor: Powell, JJ, Bruggraber, SFA, Faria, NJR and Pereira, DIA

Year: 2008

Title: Ligand modified poly oxo-hydroxy metal ion materials, their uses and processes for their preparation

Issuing Organization: World Intellectual Property Organization

Country: U.K

Assignee: Medical Research Council,

Application Number: PCT/GB2008/000408

International Patent Number: WO2008/096130A1

Date filed: 06.02.2008

US Patent Classification: 20080188555