New data and insight from vitamin C studies

Professor Margreet Vissers | Friday 14 August | 12.00pm to 1.00pm
New data and insight from vitamin C studies: personalised medicine in the treatment of AML

Trained as a Biochemist, graduating with a PhD in 1986. Post-doctoral position at the University of Michigan, USA, with studies in oxidative stress and auto-immune diseases, Currently Research Professor at the University of Otago, Christchurch.  Co-director and Principal Investigator in the Centre for Free Radical Research Group.

Research Interests and expertise

Oxidant stress arises as the result of exposure to reactive forms of oxygen, generated in our bodies by immune cells or as the result of normal cell metabolism of oxygen, or by radiation exposure.  These oxidants are largely responsible for the diseases of aging and for the development of many chronic diseases, like heart disease, arthritis and auto-immune diseases, cancer, and diseases of the airways. We are protected against this oxidant stress through the presence of antioxidants, some of which are made in our bodies and some of which are supplied through the diet, e.g. vitamins C and E. My research aims to provide understanding of this complex system and its health implications. I have particular interests in the biology of vitamin C with respect to cancer, the function of immune cells in causing inflammatory injury, protection against chronic diseases afforded by antioxidants, and the role of nutrition in disease prevention.

I am seeking to understand the various roles played by vitamin C in controlling the activity of newly-identified enzymes that affect many body functions, including stress responses, epigenetics and cancer cell survival.  This research has highlighted the need for a constant intake of healthy levels of vitamin C from the diet to maintain total body stores, and this has led to my investigating the adequacy of the current recommended dietary intake.


Prof Margreet Vissers is a Research Professor based at the University of Otago, Christchurch, and leads a research team investigating vitamin C and its many functions in the body. Vitamin C has potential as a support for enzymes involved with cancer cell survival and metabolism, epigenetic programming, immune cell function, hormone synthesis and energy production. Oxidant stress occurs as a consequence of our existence in an oxygen-rich environment and is the cause of many of the diseases of aging and the development of chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Antioxidants protect against these conditions and Assoc Prof Vissers’ research has led to the discovery of new roles for food-based antioxidants in the maintenance of good health and disease prevention.

Prof Vissers has published extensively in the scientific literature (over 100 peer-reviewed papers) and has received an Excellence in Research medal from the University of Otago, Christchurch in recognition of long-term high-level research achievement. She has an established international reputation for her research work and is regularly invited as a plenary speaker at national and international meetings. She maintains a high public profile for her work on vitamin C in cancer and in general health.

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