Marina Mourtzakis

Associate Professor

Associate Chair, Applied Research, Partnerships and Outreach

Marina Mourtzakis.

Contact information

Office: BMH 3033

Phone (Office): 519-888-4567, ext. 38459

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


​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.


PhD (Guelph)

BSc, BKin (McMaster)

Selected publications

* indicates students from my laboratory 

  • Bell KE*, Di Sebastiano KM*, Vance V, Hanning R, Mitchell A, Quadrilatero J, Russell C, Dubin J, Bahl M, Califaretti N, Campbell C and Mourtzakis M.  A comprehensive metabolic evaluation reveals impaired glucose metabolism and dyslipidemia in breast cancer patients early in the disease trajectory. Clinical Nutrition. In press – Accepted August 4, 2013.
  • Moisey LL*, Mourtzakis M, Cotton BA, Premji T*, Heyland DK, Wade CE, Bulger E, Kozar RA. Skeletal muscle mass predicts ventilator-free days, ICU-free days, and mortality in elderly ICU patients. Critical Care. In press – accepted July 23 2013.
  • Rahman A, Wilund E, Koo K, Martin C, Jeejeebhoy K, Agarwala R, Mourtzakis M. Elderly persons with ICU-acquired weakness: The potential role of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation? Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. In press – accepted June 03 2013.
  • Di Sebastiano KM*, Bell K*, Barnes T*, Wreeraratne A*, Premji T*, Mourtzakis M. Glutamate supplementation is associated with improved glucose metabolism following carbohydrate ingestion in healthy males. British Journal of Nutrition. In press – accepted April 23 2013.
  • Di Sebastiano K*, Yang L, Zbuk K, Wong R, Chow T, Moran G, Koff D, Mourtzakis M. Accelerated muscle and adipose tissue loss may predict survival in pancreatic cancer patients: the relationship to diabetes and anemia. British Journal of Nutrition. 109:302-312, 2013.
  • DiSebastiano KM*, Mourtzakis M. A critical evaluation of body composition modalities used to assess adipose and skeletal muscle tissue in cancer. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 37(5):811-821, 2012.
  • Murphy R, Mourtzakis M, Mazurak V. N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: The Potential Role for Supplementation in Cancer. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 15:246-251, 2012.
  • Shuster A, Patlas M, Pinthus JH, Mourtzakis M. The clinical importance of visceral adiposity: A critical review of methods for visceral adipose tissue analysis. British Journal of Radiology 85(1009):1-10, 2012.
  • Murphy RA, Yeung E*, Mazurak VC, Mourtzakis M. Influence of eicosapentaenoic acid supplementation on lean body mass in cancer-cachexia. British Journal of Cancer. 105(10):1469-73, 2011.
  • Murphy R, Mourtzakis M, Chu QS, Baracos VE, Reiman T, Mazurak VC. Supplementation with fish oil increases first-line chemotherapy efficacy in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer 117(16):3774-80, 2011.
  • Murphy RA, Mourtzakis M, Chu QS, Baracos VE, Reiman T, Mazurak VC. Nutritional intervention with fish oil provides a benefit over standard of care on weight, and skeletal muscle mass in patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer receiving chemotherapy. Cancer, 117(8):1775-1782, 2011.
  • Vance V, Mourtzakis M, McCargar L, Hanning R. Weight gain in breast cancer survivors: Prevalence, pattern and health consequences. Obesity Reviews 12(4):282-294, 2011.
University of Waterloo