Dr Marlou Dirks
Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow


After obtaining her MSc degree in 2009, Marlou started working as a research assistant on the ProMuscle project at the division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University. There, she worked on a large randomized controlled trial to investigate the impact of protein supplementation with and without resistance-type exercise training on muscle mass and physical performance in frail elderly participants.

In 2011, Marlou returned back to Maastricht and started her PhD project under the supervision of Prof Luc van Loon at Maastricht University. In the years that followed, she performed numerous human intervention studies to assess the impact of short-term muscle disuse and test interventional strategies that may alleviate muscle loss during a period of inactivity. Throughout the years, Marlou was awarded the Charles M. Tipton Student Research Award from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the ECSS Young Investigators Award from the European College of Sport Sciences (ECSS) in 2014, as well as the International Early Career Physiologist Travel Award from the American Physiological Society (APS) in 2015.

In January 2016, Marlou started working as a postdoctoral fellow on a large project investigating the effect of dietary feeding pattern on muscle mass and metabolic health during short-term bed rest under the supervision of Prof Luc van Loon. From October 2016 to September 2018 Marlou has been working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Exeter under the supervision of Dr Francis Stephens. In October 2018 she started a 4-year Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to further investigate mechanisms underlying muscle disuse atrophy.

Broad research specialisms:

Skeletal muscle metabolism, with a special interest in the effect of muscle disuse on muscle atrophy and metabolic consequences.


BSc, MSc, PhD


BSc in Human Nutrition at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) in 2007

MSc in Human Nutrition at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) in 2009, with specialization ‘Nutritional Physiology’.

Research assistant at Wageningen University (the Netherlands; 2010-2011)

PhD-student at Prof Luc van Loon’s lab at Maastricht University, the Netherlands, from July 2011 until September 2016. I succesfully defended my doctoral thesis entitled ‘Interventional strategies to combat muscle disuse atrophy’ on Friday Nov 18, 2016.

Contact details

Internal tel5496
Tel+44 (0) 1392 725496
AddressUniversity of Exeter
St Luke's Campus
OfficeRoom 30

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