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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Jonathan Powell

Dr Jonathan Powell

Jonathan Powell is accepting applications for PhD students.


We work with trace elements and mineral structures, especially nanoparticles, trying to identify their benefit to health as part of normal physiology. We also look at how disturbances in these systems can lead to pathology, usually because normal processes fail or because of hijack by imposters. For example, in the intestine- which is our main organ of interest- mineral particles naturally form in huge abundance. They trap fragments of their environment in the process, migrate to immune cells and thus are essential in how our intestines survey their outside world. In Crohn’s disease part of this system fails. Additionally, food additive particles can ‘hijack’ the system and accumulate, failing to function like naturally formed particles. Whether there are health implications of this remains unclear. Finally, we use of all this information to inspire new designs of mineral structures with therapeutic potential. Autoimmune disorders and cancer are diseases of current focus. 


  • ICP analysis
  • Minerals
  • nanoparticles
  • Crohn's disease

Key Publications

Powell JJ et al. An Endogenous Nanomineral Chaperones Luminal Antigen and Peptidoglycan to Intestinal Immune Cells. Nature Nanotechnology. 2015; 10(4):361-9. doi. 10.1038/nnano.2015.19.

2. Robertson J, Haas CT, Pele LC, Monie T, Hewitt RE and Powell JJ. Failure of Immuno-inhibitory PD-L1 Expression in Intestinal APCs of the Endogenous Nanomineral Pathway in Crohn’s Disease. Scientific Reports. 2016 May 26; 6:26747.

3. Powell JJ, Bruggraber SFA, Faria N, Poots LK, Hondow N, Pennycook TJ, Latunde-Dada GO, Brown AP, Pereira DIA. (2013). A nano-disperse ferritin-core mimetics that efficiently corrects anaemia without luminal iron redox activity. Nanomedicine: nanotechnology, biology and medicine 2014 Jan; S1549-9634(13)00776-4.

4. 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 deliver safe iron that is well absorbed and utilized in humans. Nanomedicine: nanotechnology, biology and medicine. 2014 June 28. S1549-9634(14)00325-6.