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  • Position: Professor or Nutritional Sciences, Riddet Institute. Former Chief Scientist at AgResearch.
    Field: Genetics and nutrigenomics.

    Professor Warren McNabb completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours at Massey University in 1986. He completed his PhD 4 years later on the metabolism of sulfur amino acids in sheep at Massey University.

    Warren was section manager of the Food, Metabolism & Microbiology section at AgResearch. This group is largely based at the Grasslands Research Centre in Palmerston North.

    My work is like a hobby

    Their research focus is in biotechnology-based nutrition, such as ways to keep farm animals healthy and how to meet the nutritional needs of some human genetic conditions. They also use genetic discoveries and knowledge to develop products and processes that meet consumer preferences, such as ethical treatment of livestock and safe food production.

    Career advice: Do you have an ego?

    Warren McNabb talks about the qualities scientists have?

    Warren was also a science team leader in Nutrigenomics New Zealand (NuNZ). This research project will determine the effects of specific nutrients and food components on gene expression in order to identify genes and/or metabolic pathways that impact on gut disease, health or performance, and how these genes respond to changes in diet.

    Find out more about Nutrigenomics, researchers from AgResearch, Plant & Food Research and The University of Auckland are active contributors to this research.

    The knowledge developed by NuNZ will help to explain the effects of diet on regulating gene function, greatly enhancing our ability to determine how different foods and food components can be used to maintain and change the health, disease or performance of individuals.

    Warren also has a conjunct appointment as an Associate Professor in the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health at Massey University in Palmerston North. In addition, at the end of 2009, he was appointed Adjunct Professor at the Riddet Institute.

    Career pathway

    In 1990 he received a prestigious CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellowship to undertake research at the CSIRO, Division of Plant Industry in Canberra, Australia on the expression and manipulation of genes effecting nutritional value and virus and pest resistance in pasture legumes in the laboratory of Dr TJ Higgins.

    Careers: Having a hobby you get paid for

    Warren McNabb believes in pursuing your interests, and science has allowed him to do that.

    Warren returned to New Zealand 3 years later to take up a position as a Research Scientist in what was then the Nutrition and Metabolism Group of AgResearch, Grasslands. He was awarded a Stapledon and Trimble Research Fellowship in 1997 which allowed him to do research on the metabolism of phenylalanine (an amino acid) in the lactating mammary gland of goats at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland.

    In 2000 he took up the position of Team Leader, Nutrition and Metabolism Team, Nutrition and Behaviour Science Platform, AgResearch Limited and held this position until 2005 when he became a Section Manager. During this period his research focused on protein and amino acid metabolism across the small intestine, liver, mammary gland and hind-limb of a range of animal species to evaluate the effects of diet and disease on nutrient partitioning and nutrient-gene interactions. Further promotions followed, with Warren holding the position of Research Director at AgResearch from June 2011 until September 2016.

    He was appointed Deputy Director of the Riddet Institute in October 2016. His research here focuses on nutrition research and in particular protein nutrition, and on food-host-microbial interactions and food for human health and wellbeing. He is involved in many research projects including as Principle Investigator in the Riddet Institute CoRE Research programme and an Associate Investigator in the High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge priority research programmes’, Healthy Digestion and Infant Health.


    One of Warren's top interests is science, so his work is one of his hobbies. He also enjoys travelling, particularly in France and Quebec, as his partner is French Canadian and originally from Quebec. He also likes cooking and collecting wine and enjoys many sports, particularly cricket, hockey and weight training. Apart from that, the occasional bit of fishing and he reads a lot of books.

    This article is based on information current in 2007 and 2021.

    Find out more on his Riddit Institute profile.

      Published 15 November 2007, Updated 3 March 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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