Manja M. Zec, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate | School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness


Dr. Manja Zec graduated with a master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Physiology (2007) and holds a doctoral degree in Biology (2011) with a focus on cell and molecular biology research, all from the University of Belgrade in Serbia. She received her post-doctoral training in epidemiology at the North-West University in South Africa (2015-2017), specializing in fat intake and lipid metabolism in vulnerable populations.

At the beginning of 2021, as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, she joined the Chilton lab at the University of Arizona, School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness, where she has pursued research in lipid metabolism and related genetically driven health disparities. She has also taken part in projects focused on the role of human lipolytic enzymes in multiple organ failure, associated with systemic inflammatory response due to viral infection. Recently, she has been investigating inflammation-induced metabolomic and lipidomic reprogramming in genetically modified mice, in comparison with non-induced adult and old mice, in order to provide insights in trends in precision aging and envisaged strategies for delayed onset of aging.

Manja is passionate about precision science, including precision nutrition which relies on nutrigenetics and microbiota, precision aging, and precision medicine, in diverse population groups. She trusts that evaluation and validation of novel molecular and pathway determinants in health and disease, remains sine qua non for creation of personalized solutions in preventive and lifestyle medicine, and diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

Selected Publications (2022-2019)

Chilton FH, Manichaikul A, Yang C, O'Connor TD, Johnstone LM, Blomquist S, Sergeant S, Zec M, Tsai MY, Rich S, Bridgewater SJ, Mathias RA, Hallmark B. Interpreting Clinical Trials with Omega-3 Supplements in the Context of Ancestry and FADS Genetic Variation. Frontiers in Nutrition 2022, 1227

Zec M. 2022. Emerging Role of Microbiota in Precision Nutrition Approaches. In: Glibetic, M. (Ed.), Comprehensive Gut Microbiota, vol. 2. Elsevier, pp. 220–229.

Zec M, Krga I, Zandberg L, Smuts CM. Editorial: Micronutrients and Fatty Acids in Precision Nutrition Strategies. Frontiers in Nutrition 2021, 8:788215.

Snider JM, You JK, Wang X, Snider AJ, Hallmark B, Zec M, Seeds MC, ... & Chilton FH. Group IIA Secreted Phospholipase A2 is Associated with the Pathobiology Leading to COVID-19 Mortality. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 2021, 131:19 10.1172/JCI149236

Zec MM. Precision nutrition tools for improved athletic performance - power of nutrigenetics and gut microbiota in a future of sport nutrition. BMC Proceedings, 15:14, A4. Novelties in Sport Sciences, 11th September 2021, Novi Sad, Serbia  

Zec M, Krga I, Stojković L, Živković M, Pokimica B, Stanković A, Glibetic M. Is There a FADS2-Modulated Link between Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Plasma Phospholipids and Polyphenol Intake in Adult Subjects Who Are Overweight? Nutrients 2021, 13(2):296

Zec M, Krga I, Takić M, Debeljak-Martačić J, Korićanac G, Ranković S, Popović T, Pantelić M, Glibetic M. Walnut consumption induces tissue-specific omega-6/omega-3 decrease in high-fructose-fed Wistar rats. ACS Omega 2020, 5(43):28136-28145

Zec M, Stojković Lj, Zeković M, Pokimica B, Živković M, Stanković A, Glibetic M. FADS2 polymorphisms are associated with plasma arachidonic acid and estimated desaturase-5 activity in a cross-sectional study. Nutrition Research 2020, 83:49-62

Zec M, Schutte AE, Ricci C, Baumgartner J, Kruger IM, Smuts CM. Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Are Associated with Blood Pressure and Hypertension over 10-years in Black South African Adults Undergoing Nutritional Transition. Foods 2019, 8 (9), 394