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Professor Parvez Haris

Job: Professor of Biomedical Science and Head of Research for the School of Allied Health Sciences

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Allied Health Sciences

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 250 6306




Publications and outputs 

  • Ramadan 2020 and Beyond in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Scientific Evidence For Action
    Ramadan 2020 and Beyond in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Scientific Evidence For Action Elmajnoun, Hala K.; Elhag, Mohammed R. A.; Mohamed, Hatem; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.); Abu-Median, Abu-Bakr Background: Ramadan is a sacred month in Islam, which involves 29–30 days of dawn-till-dusk dry-fasting. Millions of Muslims observed Ramadan fasting (RF) this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Certain ethnic groups worldwide, including Muslims, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, raising fears that fasting could bring additional health risks. This directly impacted on the current challenges faced by health professionals. The COVID-19 virus is expected to become seasonal. Therefore, the evidence presented in this review is valid beyond Ramadan as intermittent fasting is practiced more widely, irrespective of religion, throughout the year as a therapeutic and prophylactic means for several conditions. Methods: A wide range of literature databases were searched for the effects of RF and intermittent fasting on human health and then linked to COVID-19 impact to generate the evidence. Results: This review presents a body of evidence proving RF is safe and beneficial for healthy people who adopt a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, and engage in regular physical activity. Fasting reduces levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β and IL-6), which are associated with severe COVID-19. Furthermore, increased handwashing and hygiene during Ramadan may reduce infection risks. For some, social isolation, physical inactivity, reduced access to food and stress – linked to the pandemic – may minimize the benefits that is achieved during a “normal” Ramadan. Conclusions: RF during the COVID-19 pandemic is not a cause of concern for healthy people. However, people who are ill are exempt from fasting and should seek medical advice if they wish to fast. RF during the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique experience and future research will reveal its impact on human health. open access article
  • Global Sourcing of Low-Inorganic Arsenic Rice Grain.
    Global Sourcing of Low-Inorganic Arsenic Rice Grain. Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.) Arsenic in rice grain is dominated by two species: the carcinogen inorganic arsenic (the sum of arsenate and arsenite) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA). Rice is the dominant source of inorganic arsenic into the human diet. As such, there is a need to identify sources of low-inorganic arsenic rice globally. Here we surveyed polished (white) rice across representative regions of rice production globally for arsenic speciation. In total 1180 samples were analysed from 29 distinct sampling zones, across 6 continents. For inorganic arsenic the global x~ was 66 μg/kg, and for DMA this figure was 21 μg/kg. DMA was more variable, ranging from < 2 to 690 μg/kg, while inorganic arsenic ranged from < 2 to 399 μg/kg. It was found that inorganic arsenic dominated when grain sum of species was < 100 μg/kg, with DMA dominating at higher concentrations. There was considerable regional variance in grain arsenic speciation, particularly in DMA where temperate production regions had higher concentrations. Inorganic arsenic concentrations were relatively consistent across temperate, subtropical and northern hemisphere tropical regions. It was only in southern hemisphere tropical regions, in the eastern hemisphere that low-grain inorganic arsenic is found, namely East Africa (x~ < 10 μg/kg) and the Southern Indonesian islands (x~ < 20 μg/kg). Southern hemisphere South American rice was universally high in inorganic arsenic, the reason for which needs further exploration. open access article
  • Estimated dietary intake of essential elements from four selected staple foods in Najran City, Saudi Arabia.
    Estimated dietary intake of essential elements from four selected staple foods in Najran City, Saudi Arabia. Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.); Mohamed, Hatem; Brima, Eid I. The estimated dietary intake (EDI) of essential elements selenium (Se), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn) and copper (Cu) has not been previously investigated for Najran city, Saudi Arabia. This type of information can be valuable for protecting public health. The aim of this study was to estimate the EDI of these elements. A food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was completed by the study participants (n = 80) to obtain dietary intake of selected staple foods (rice, wheat, meat and chicken). The concentrations of Se, Zn, Mn and Cu in these staple foods were determined using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The ranges of concentrations (mg/kg, wet weight) were as follows: Se (0.07–0.24), Zn (3.91–20.89), Mn (0.63–14.69) and Cu (0.69–2.41). The calculated ranges of EDIs (mg/kg bw/day) for the essential elements were as follows: Se 9.55 × 10−5–5.75 × 10−4, Zn 1.33 × 10−2–5.83 × 10−2, Mn 1.49 × 10−3–3.31 × 10−2, Cu 1.65 × 10−3–5.42 × 10−3. The highest EDI for Cu and Mn came from wheat. In the case of Se and Zn, the foods that contributed the highest EDI were chicken and meat, respectively. The lowest EDIs were found for Se in wheat, Zn in rice and both Mn and Cu in chicken. The percentages (%) of provisional maximum tolerable daily intake (PMTDI) for Se, Zn, Mn and Cu were 13%, 11%, 14% and 3.4%, respectively when contributions from all the four classes of foods were combined. The percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) derived from these foods were 80%, 20%, 17% and 5.6% for Se, Zn, Mn and Cu were, respectively. This raises the possibility of Cu deficiency in the Najran population. However, a total diet study and human biomonitoring study is needed in the future to fully assess if people in Najran city are at risk of deficiency or excessive exposure to trace elements. open access article
  • Overweight and underweight prevalence indices in a young (18-23 yrs-old) population in Leicester (UK).
    Overweight and underweight prevalence indices in a young (18-23 yrs-old) population in Leicester (UK). Ferreira, F.; Baldry, E.; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.); Ali, N.; Millington, D.; Gonzalez-Munoz, M. J.; Pena-Fernandez, A. Body fatness is considered a diagnostic factor for obesity and predictive of cardiovascular and cancer disease. Different studies have described a strong correlation between body fatness determined by different methods and body mass index (BMI), although an absolute correlation has not been obtained between them, especially in a young population. Young individuals aged 18-23 years are little studied in epidemiological studies, as they are usually considered in the adult or adolescent group, despite having specific characteristics and features that make them different from both children and adults, making these type of studies of public health relevance. Aims: Assess the prevalence of underweight and overweight individuals in a young population of students at De Montfort University (DMU, UK), based on student’s body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage, depending on their ethnic background. DMU is a public English university with a high population of students with diverse ethnic backgrounds. Methodology: Undergraduate DMU students, 18-23 years-old, volunteered between 2015-2016 to participate in this study. Minimal information, including student’s sex, age and ethnic background (continental origin), was gathered. BMI values were calculated in accordance with the formula BMI = kg/m2, after appropriate measurement of height (metres) and weight (kg) in each individual. Fatness (body fat %) was directly obtained by foot-to-foot bioelectric impedance (BIA) using a Tanita scale. Results: 109 (20.5 ± 1.1 yrs-old; 32 male and 77 female) DMU students participated in this study. According to their BMI values and BIA body fat percentage , 33.0% and 28.4% of this population were overweight, and 9.2% and 7.3% were underweight, respectively. According to BMI data, 28.1% male students were overweight and 9.4% underweight, showing a greater incidence of overweight students from Asian background (15.6%), followed by European (9.4%), and African (3.1%). In this study, no underweight male Europeans were observed, however some underweight participants with African and Asian backgrounds were noted, specifically 3.1% and 6.3% underweight prevalence, respectively. Similar over/underweight percentages were observed using Tanita in this DMU students’ population, but a slightly lower percentage of European male participants were considered overweight (6.3%) with this method. In female counterparts, 35.1% and 45.5% were overweight and 9.1% and 6.5% were underweight, according to BMI and BIA methodologies, respectively. Contrary to male participants, the highest overweight prevalence according to BMI values was assessed in female African students (15.6%), followed by European (13.0%) and Asian (6.5%) backgrounds. Highest underweight incidence was detected in female participants with Asian background (6.5%), followed by European and African backgrounds both with 1.3%, respectively. As with male participants, a similar trend was recorded for overweight participants according to the BIA method, although greater incidence was observed in participants with African (20.8%) and Asian (11.7%) backgrounds. In female participants with African backgrounds no underweight participants were found. Asian participants registered the highest prevalence of underweight students (5.2%), followed by participants with a European background (1.3%). Conclusions: This observational study found that at least one-third of young individuals aged 18-23 years were overweight, which places them at increased health risk. This is three times that of the national average in this age group, 10.6%, and may reflect the ethnic differences which were observed. Work to compare anthropometric assessment methods will support risk stratification in this population group.
  • Conversion of solid waste to activated carbon to improve landfill sustainability
    Conversion of solid waste to activated carbon to improve landfill sustainability Adelopo, A. O.; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.); Alo, B.; Huddersman, Katherine; Jenkins, R. O. Landfills’ heterogeneous composites waste were evaluated as precursors for generation of activated carbon (AC). A single step chemical activation process was applied involving irradiation with microwave energy and impregnation with KOH. The average percentage yield of AC from active landfill precursor was higher than that from closed landfill for all depths sampled. Increase in impregnation ratio and irradiation power decreased the average percentage yield for both landfill precursors (Active: 38.1 to 33.1%) (Closed 42.1: to 33.3%). The optimum pH range for adsorption of methylene blue was pH 6-7, while adsorption increased with increase in temperature over the range 30 to 50oC. Carbonyl and hydroxyl groups were the major functional groups on the surface of AC. The properties of the AC are potentially suitable for the removal of cationic dyes and pollutants. AC generated from the landfill composite were comparable to that from some other biomass being managed through AC generation. This is the first report to demonstrate the possible reuse of landfill composite as AC. The reuse option of landfill composite could provide a means of sustainable management of landfilled municipal waste. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Extending the geographic reach of the water hyacinth plant in removal of heavy metals from a temperate Northern Hemisphere river
    Extending the geographic reach of the water hyacinth plant in removal of heavy metals from a temperate Northern Hemisphere river Jones, J. L.; Jenkins, R. O.; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.) Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) has been used for environmentally sustainable phytoremediation of water, though its use has been geographically restricted. For the first time we extend its geographical reach by investigating its potential for clean-up of water from a highly polluted British river (Nant-YFendrod, a tributary of the River Tawe). Investigations using the plant were conducted at three levels: a bench-scale study using polluted river water and synthetic solutions; an in-situ trial using water hyacinth within the Nant-Y-Fendrod; and a bankside trial to pump and treat river water. The removal of the largest number of heavy metals (21) from water in a single study using ICP-MS is reported, including Sb, for the first time. Results are promising, with bench-scale tests demonstrating up to 63% removal of Al, 62% Zn, 47% Cd, 22% Mn and 23% As, during just seven hours exposure to the plant. When extended to three weeks exposure, removal is evident in the order Al > Cd > Zn > Mn > Ni > As > V. Furthermore, in-situ mean removal of 6%, 11% and 15% of Mn, Zn and Cd respectively is demonstrated. As the world learns to adapt to climate change, studies of the type reported here are needed to exploit the remarkable phytoremediation potential of water hyacinth. open access article
  • Multivariate analysis of the effects of age, particle size and landfill depth on heavy metals pollution content of closed and active landfill precursors
    Multivariate analysis of the effects of age, particle size and landfill depth on heavy metals pollution content of closed and active landfill precursors Adelopo, A. O.; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.); Alo, B.; Huddersman, Katherine; Jenkins, R. O. Multivariate analysis of a heavy metal pollution survey of closed and active landfill precursors was carried out in order to compare environmental risk levels in relation to age, particle size and depth of the precursors. Landfill precursors (77) were collected and analyzed for 15 USEPA toxic heavy metals using ICP-MS. Heavy metals concentrations in closed landfill precursors were significantly higher than those in the active landfill for 11 of 15 heavy metals investigated (closed landfill order: Fe > Al > Mn > Cu > Pb > Ba> Co > Cr > Ni > Cd > As > Se > Ti). Cluster analysis and correlation studies indicated the distribution of the metals was more influenced by landfill precursor size than by depth of the sample. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that 10 of 15 of heavy metals of both landfill precursors were from similar anthropogenic sources. Heavy metals pollution indices (Igeo > 5, EF > 40 and CF > 7) of both active and closed landfill precursors exceeded limits in the order of Zn > Cd > Pb > Cu > Ag, indicating a major potential health risk influenced by age and particle size of precursor. Zn, Cd, Cu and Pb of both landfill precursors exceeded the USEPA set standard for assessment of human health risk for each of the metals (1×10 -4 to 1× 10-3). This study highlights the need for the integration of a clean-up process for precursors from both types of landfill to reduce possible environmental pollution during a reuse process. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • The uniting tool for interdisciplinary research, from art to the history and structure of the universe.
    The uniting tool for interdisciplinary research, from art to the history and structure of the universe. Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.)
  • Human biomonitoring research at De Montfort University: school and university participants' recruitment experience
    Human biomonitoring research at De Montfort University: school and university participants' recruitment experience Pena-Fernandez, A.; Ali, N.; Millington, D.; Lobo-Bedmar, M. C.; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.) Involving teachers in scientific research can increase schoolchildren’s interest in studying science from an early stage which is critical to increase the numbers of high-school students studying scientific subjects. This will impact on the number of students enrolled in university science degrees to satisfy many basic human needs. A group of academics at De Montfort University (DMU, UK) have involved the Ravenhurst Primary School (RPS) in biomedical research, specifically a human biomonitoring (HBM) study involving schoolchildren (aged 6-9 years) and university students (aged 18-22 years) in Leicester (UK) to determine their nutritional status and exposure to metals. We have adopted a school-based approach to recruit participants from both educational arenas following the recommendations for executing HBM studies in Europe [1] with some modifications. Permission from the school authorities was requested after gaining ethical approval from the DMU Research Ethics Committee (Ref. 1674). Parental/student consent was obtained by invitation and appointment letter, with the project details and ethical and data protection aspects written in simple language. Appropriately developed flyers, posters and information leaflets for each audience were also used to enhance the recruitment processes. Scheduling and facilitating flexible face-to-face appointments was critical for collecting the human samples needed for the project (urine and scalp hair) as well as comprehensive details about participants’ diet and anthropometric measurements. The involvement of teachers and lecturers in conjunction with a registered general nurse (school nursing) was of paramount importance for achieving these goals, as they were encouraging participation throughout the process. During the appointments, parents and participants were debriefed in more detail about the project and the relevance of performing HBM to improve health in the community. The school-based approach achieved the following results: a) the recruitment of a relevant number of participants (12 schoolchildren and 111 university students); b) the provision of a satisfying educational experience for parents, teachers/academics and participants in both educational arenas; c) the involvement of school-children in scientific research; d) the acquisition of awareness of the impact of environmental contamination by metals on human health; e) informing participants about their diets and body composition (e.g. percentage of body fat) promoting the necessity of adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. In conclusion, the project was successful in involving School teachers, University lecturers, schoolchildren, University students and community health workers in a research project. It provided an opportunity for educational development, promote staff motivation and students’ interest and involvement in scientific research. Teachers updated their biomedical knowledge and skills by participating in this research and learnt new methods to engage schoolchildren (by promoting healthy lifestyles, protect the environment, etc.). This could help increase students’ interest in studying science subjects at University and motivate them to embark on a future scientific career. Finally, the UK education system should do more to engage schools and teachers in performing scientific research and thereby make the scientific curriculum more practical that will facilitate students’ learning and engagement.
  • Serum Albumin Modulates the Bioactivity of Rosmarinic Acid
    Serum Albumin Modulates the Bioactivity of Rosmarinic Acid Brito, E.; Silva, A.; Fale, P. L. V.; Pacheco, R.; Serralheiro, A.; Haris, P. I. (Parvez I.); Ascensao, Lia; Serralheiro, M. L. M. Rosmarinic acid (RA) is a phenolic compound with biological activity. The objective of the present study was to investigate whether this compound kept its biological activity in the presence of proteins. For this purpose, bovine serum albumin (BSA) was used as a model protein, and the capacity of the RA to inhibit acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and affect antioxidant activity was evaluated in the absence and presence of BSA. A mixture of phenolic compounds containing RA, obtained from a medicinal plant was added to this study. The AChE inhibitory activity of RA was reduced by ∼57% in the presence of BSA, while the antioxidant activity increased. These results lead to the investigation of the effect of RA on the BSA structure using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). At 37°C and higher temperatures, RA caused a decrease in the temperature modifications on the protein structure. Furthermore, FTIR and native-gel analysis revealed that protein aggregation/precipitation, induced by temperature, was reduced in the presence of RA. The novelty of the present work resides in the study of the enzyme inhibitory activity and antioxidant capacity of polyphenols, such as RA, in the presence of a protein. The findings highlight the need to consider the presence of proteins when assessing biological activities of polyphenols in vitro and that enzyme inhibitory activity may be decreased, while the antioxidant capacity remains or even increases.

Click here to view a full listing of Parvez Haris' publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Application of diverse biophysical techniques such as FTIR, NMR, CD, MALDI-TOF, ICP-MS, Fluorescence as well as Synchrotron based spectroscopic methods, for characterisation of medically important peptides, proteins, macromolecular interactions including protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions.  Studies are also performed on cells, tissues and biofluids.
  • Development of spectroscopic and bioinformatics tools for application in the fields of proteomics, metabolomics, disease diagnosis, screening and treatment.
  • Structure-function studies of novel antimicrobial agents, based mainly on peptides and proteins, to counter antibiotic resistance.
  • Role of metals in health and disease through analysis of metals in the environment, diet and the human body.
  • Understanding the complex relationship between diet, exposure to pollutants, nutrition, life-style, ethnicity and health through human biomonitoring studies.
  • Improving human health and the environment through development of novel, environmental friendly, strategies for removal of toxic contaminants from water and the food-chain.
  • Studies of migrant health with particular focus on the relationship between health and practices such as betel quid chewing, geophagy.

Areas of teaching

  • Biochemical Disease Processes
  • Biomedical Techniques
  • Protein Structure-Function
  • Advanced Topics in Biomedical Science
  • Bioinformatics


PhD, BSc (Hons.)

Courses taught

  • BSc Biomedical Science
  • MSc Biomedical Science
  • MPharm Pharmacy
  • MSc Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC, CChem)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health (FRSPH)
  • Member of the Biochemical Society (since 1986)

Professional licences and certificates

Chartered Chemist (CChem)

Current research students

  • First Supervisor: 5 PhD students
  • Second Supervisor: 5 PhD students

Externally funded research grants information

Funding for research has been obtained from various sources including the UK Research Councils (EPSRC, BBSRC), the British Council, the European Union etc. For example, principal investigator, from DMU, on a research consortium consisting of 15 leading European Universities (awarded EU grant of €3.15 million of which €198490.46 is allocated to De Montfort University) investigating the human health impact of geogenic elements in groundwater and soils in the European Union. This was a 4 year project that started in January 2007.

Professional esteem indicators

  • Editor-in-Chief: Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging
  • Editorial Advisory Panel Member: Bio-Medical Materials and Engineering
  • Editor: Biochemical Journal (until 2008)
  • Editor: Analytical Cellular Oncology
  • Editorial Advisor: Molecular Membrane Biology
  • Committee Member and treasurer of the Protein and Peptide Science Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • Committee Member of the Molecular Structures Theme Panel of theBiochemical Society (until March 2012)

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