UCL Division of Biosciences


Dr Joanne Marks

Associate Professor

Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2012

Research summary

Western diets have changed dramatically over the last 30 years with a significant increase in consumption of processed foods that are high in calories, but nutrient deplete. There is general consensus that the rising prevalence of obesity and type II diabetes is related to consumption of these processed and calorie-dense foods. Recently it has also been suggested that excessive consumption of these foods may also increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) due to the high levels of phosphate preservatives used to enhance flavor and shelf life of these products.

Hyperphosphatemia is a serious consequence of chronic kidney disease, leading to increased vascular calcification and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. New evidence is emerging that post-prandial fluctuations in serum phosphate concentration also correlate with increased CVD risk in a normal population. The kidney is generally considered to be the main organ involved in the regulation of phosphate homeostasis; however, data is now emerging to suggest this may not be the case and that different regions of the small intestine play distinct functional roles in this process. My research aims to further investigate the role of this organ in phosphate balance and to investigate the use of specific transporter inhibitors to directly target intestinal phosphate transport. This approach has the potential to be used to control hyperphosphatemia in chronic kidney disease and to reduce phosphate toxicity and subsequent CVD risk in the general population.

The cellular processes of glucose transport are similar in the kidney and small intestine, although different transport proteins are involved. Novel mechanisms for controlling intestinal glucose transport have recently been identified and it is likely, although not yet confirmed, that these processes will be similar in the kidney.  My research investigates the mechanisms involved in renal glucose reabsorption and how these processes are altered by diet, obesity and diabetes. The aim is to identify novel therapeutic targets to blunt renal, as well as intestinal, glucose reabsorption for the treatment of obesity and diabetes.


Teaching summary

I teach gastrointestinal and renal physiology to 1st-year MBBS students and to all year groups on the Biomedical Sciences degree. I am a module organiser for PHOL0003 - Animal and Human Physiology; Integrative Physiology, and I am also a postgraduate tutor for NPP.


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow |
University of London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education | 2016
University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2004
North East Surrey College of Technology
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1996
North East Surrey College of Technology
HND/HNC, Higher National Diploma | 1994


I graduated from the North East Surrey College of Technology in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology and joined UCL in the Department of Medicine in 1996; registering for a PhD in 1999. My PhD investigated the regulatory mechanisms and adaptation of renal brush border membrane glucose transport to diabetic hyperglycaemia. My post-doctoral research continued at UCL, in the Department of Physiology, and in 2008 I was awarded a Kidney Research UK Career Development Fellowship to investigate the potential to target the small intestine to control hyperphosphatemia in chronic kidney disease. I was appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at UCL in 2012 and as an Associate Professor in 2019.