Marina Mourtzakis

Professor; Associate Dean, Research
Marina Mourtzakis

Contact information

Office: BMH 3116

Phone (Office): 519-888-4567, ext. 48459

Phone (Lab): 519-888-4567, ext. 38588 


Website: Integrative Metabolism and Body Composition (IMBC) Lab

Remote video URL

​Research interests

Skeletal muscle is a very plastic tissue that has the capacity to hypertrophy or atrophy under different metabolic conditions. Dynamic changes in muscle mass have a vital role in physiological, metabolic and physical function in diverse populations ranging from healthy individuals to patients with chronic disease (including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). There are numerous factors that can influence changes in muscle mass including nutrition and fitness capacity. My research focuses on the interrelationship between nutrition, exercise, body composition and the effects of these factors on muscle metabolism in healthy people as well as patients with cancer.

The vast majority of cancer patients endure varying degrees of muscle loss at different periods of the disease time-course. The loss of muscle is thought to have a detrimental effect on survival, disease progression, immune function, as well as physical function. To better understand muscle wasting in cancer, my work identifies methodological approaches of body composition to precisely measure and characterize changes in muscle in cancer patients. My research program will further examine potential underlying mechanisms of this problem and develop rehabilitative approaches to counter, and potentially prevent, muscle loss by integrating concepts of nutrition, protein metabolism and muscle physiology.

Graduate supervision and student opportunities

Please email me to discuss current available opportunities.

Graduate studies application details

Teaching, expertise, tools and technologies

  • Skeletal muscle health
  • Body composition
  • Muscle quality in metabolic conditions
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Muscle metabolism
  • Dietary protein
  • Ultrasound, CT, DXA, BIA, HPLC


  • KIN 204 - Movement assessment and exercise prescription
  • KIN 607 - Integrative energy metabolism in health and disease


PhD, University of Guelph

BSc, BKin, McMaster University 

Selected publications

* indicates students from my laboratory 

Paris MT*, Bell KE*, Avrutin E*, Mourtzakis M. Ultrasound image resolution influences analysis of skeletal muscle composition. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging. In Press.

Paris MT*, Tandon P, Heyland DK, Furberg H, Premji T*, Mourtzakis M. Automated body composition analysis of clinically-acquired computed tomography scans using neural networks. Clinical Nutrition. In Press.

Bell KE*, Schmidt S*, Milburn A*, Earthman C, Russell C, Mourtzakis M. Bioelectrical impedance analysis overestimates fat-free mass in breast cancer patients undergoing treatment. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. In Press.

Barnes T*, DiSebastiano K*, Vlavcheski F, Quadrilatero J, Tsiani EL, Mourtzakis M. Glutamate increases glucose uptake in L6 myotubes in a concentration- and time-dependant manner that is mediated by AMPK. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism. 43(12):1307-1313, 2018.

Cespedes Feliciano EM, Avrutin E*, Caan BJ, Voroian A, Mourtzakis M.  Validation of a clinically practical approach to screen of low muscularity using computed tomography (CT) images in cancer patients. Journal of Cachexia and Skeletal Muscle. 9(5):898-908, 2018.

Parry SM, Chapple LS, Mourtzakis M. Exploring the potential effectiveness of combining optimal nutrition with electrical stimulation to maintain muscle health in critical illness: A narrative review. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 33(6):772-789, 2018.

Paris MT*, Mourtzakis M. Development of a bedside applicable ultrasound protocol to quantify fat mass index derived from whole body dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans. Nutrition. 57:225-230, 2018.

Paris MT*, Furberg HF, Petruzella S, Akin O, Hötker AM, Mourtzakis M. Influence of contrast administration on computed tomography based analysis of visceral adipose tissue and skeletal muscle tissue in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.  J Parenteral Enteral Nutrition. 42(7):1148-1155, 2018.

Avrutin E*, Moisey L*, Zhang R*, Khattab J*, Todd E*, Premji T*, Kozar R, Heyland DK, Mourtzakis M. A clinically practical approach for screening of low muscularity using electronic linear measures on computed tomography (CT) images in critically ill patients. J Parenteral Enteral Nutrition. 42(5):885-891, 2018

Chan KS®, Mourtzakis M®, Friedman LA, Dinglas VD, Hough CL, Ely EW, Morris PE, Hopkins RO, Needham DM. Evaluating muscle mass in survivors of ARDS: A 1-year multi-center longitudinal study. Critical Care Medicine.46(8):1238-1246, 2018. ®Denotes co-first authorship.

DiSebastiano KM, Pinthus JH, Duivenvoorden WCM, Mourtzakis M. Glucose impairments and insulin resistance in prostate cancer: The role of obesity, nutrition and exercise. Obesity Reviews. 19(7):1008-1016, 2018.

DiSebastiano KM*, Bell KE*, Mitchell AS, Quadrilatero J, Dubin JA, Mourtzakis M. Glucose metabolism during the acute prostate cancer treatment trajectory: The Influence of Age and Obesity. Clinical Nutrition. 37(1):195-203, 2018.

Mourtzakis M, Parry SM, Connolly B, Puthucheary Z. Skeletal muscle ultrasound in critical care: a tool in need of translation. Annals of American Thoracic Society. 14(10):1495-1503, 2017.

Paris M*, LaFleur B, Dubin J, Mourtzakis M. Development of a bedside viable ultrasound protocol to quantify appendicular lean tissue in a heterogeneous cohort of adults. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle. 8(5):713-726, 2017.

Moisey LL*, Mourtzakis M, Kozar RA, Compher C, Heyland DK. Existing equations to estimate lean body mass are not accurate in the critically ill: Results of a multicenter observational study. Clinical Nutrition – Brief Communication. 36(6):1701-1706, 2017.

Paris M*, Mourtzakis M, Day A, Leung R, Watharkar S*, Kozar R, Earthman C, Kuchnia A, Dhaliwal R, Moisey L*, Compher C, Martin N, Nicolo M, White T, Roosevelt H, Peterson S, Heyland DK. VALIDation of bedside Ultrasound of Muscle layer thickness of the quadriceps in the critically ill patient (VALIDUM study): A prospective multicenter study. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 41(2):171-180, 2017. *M Paris received a Promising Investigator Award at the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Meeting in Austin, TX

DiSebastiano KM*, Pinthus JH, Duivenvoorden WCM, Patterson L, Dubin JA, Mourtzakis M. Elevated C-peptides, abdominal obesity, and abnormal adipokine profile are associated with higher Gleason Scores in prostate cancer. The Prostate. 77(2):211-221, 2017.

Tandon P, Raman M, Mourtzakis M, Merli M. A Practical Approach to Nutritional Screening and Assessment in Cirrhosis. Hepatology. 65(3):1044-1057, 2017.