Tim Spector

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Tim Spector
BornJuly 1958 (age 63–64)
Alma materSt Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
OccupationProfessor of genetic epidemiology, science writer

Timothy David Spector OBE FMedSci (born 1958) is a British epidemiologist and science writer.


Tim Spector was born in North London[1] in July 1958.[2] He trained in medicine and rose to the position of consultant rheumatologist, before turning to genetic epidemiology, the study of genetic factors in health and disease, in 1992.[1]

Spector is professor of genetic epidemiology and director of the TwinsUK registry at King's College London.[3] He is a specialist in twin studies, genetics, epigenetics, and microbiome and diet.[4][5]

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to the Covid-19 response.[6] He was also appointed Senior Investigator at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).[7]

Twin studies[edit]

Spector's team at King's College have, since 1992, enrolled 15,000 sets of identical twins in the TwinsUK studies, leading to many studies on the heritability of diseases and disorders. Spector states the goal is "to understand nature versus nurture".[1]

The Diet Myth[edit]

Spector's book The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat was published in 2015.[8] The book explains how gut microbiotas interact with different dietary habits and how the gut microbiome can determine health and longevity.[9][10][11][12] It received positive reviews in science journals.[11][13] Spector argues for a diet that increases gut microbe diversity. To do this he recommends increasing fibre content, avoiding junk and processed foods and experimenting with different fresh foods.[14][15]

Spector has argued against low-fat and fad diets.[14][16] He recommends a varied high-fibre Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of nuts and vegetables.[14][16][15]

Spoon Fed[edit]

In his latest book Spoon Fed, Spector discusses how microbes may affect mental health.[17]

COVID Symptom Study[edit]

In March 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, Spector made use of twins already taking part in a genetic study to begin an investigation of COVID-19 symptoms. Working with researchers at King's College, Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals, an app used by twins to record nutrition was used as the basis for the COVID Symptom Study app to allow members of the public to make a daily record of their symptoms and state of health.[18] By July 2020 the app had more than 4 million users,[19] and the next month the project received grant funding from the Department of Health and Social Care.[20] Development and operation of the app involves Zoe Global Limited (now Zoe Limited), a nutrition advice company co-founded by Spector in 2017.[18][21]

Spector became the public face of the study, releasing periodic summaries via YouTube from June 2020 onwards.[22]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes. 2012.[23]
  • The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat. 2015.
  • Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food is Wrong. 2020.[24]


  1. ^ a b c Murgia, Madhumita (31 July 2021). "Tim Spector: the data explorer who uncovered vital clues to Covid". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Appointments: Timothy David SPECTOR". Companies House. Retrieved 1 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Tim Spector - Research Portal, King's College, London". Kclpure.kcl.ac.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  4. ^ Jozuka, Emiko (27 May 2016). "Ditch the diet if you want to lose weight says genetic expert Tim Spector | WIRED UK". Wired.co.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  5. ^ Elsa Vulliamy. "Want to to [sic] lose weight? Try eating chocolate and drinking wine". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  6. ^ "No. 63142". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 October 2020. p. B67.
  7. ^ "Tim Spector the Author Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Director of the TwinsUK". www.tim-spector.co.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  8. ^ "The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  9. ^ "Magical microbes – how to feed your gut". The Guardian. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  10. ^ "‘The Diet Myth,’ ‘The Good Gut’ and ‘The Hidden Half of Nature’". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Handysides, Stuart. (2016). Books: The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat. British Journal of General Practice 66 (648): 378–379.
  12. ^ "Tim Spector: Go with your gut". British Medical Journal. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Craig, Jeffrey M. (2016). Myths Microbes and Manipulation—Sensible Advice From the Diet Inspector: A Review of The Diet Myth by Tim Spector. Twin Research and Human Genetics 19 (4): 404-405.
  14. ^ a b c "Advice from the Experts: Top Diet Tips from Professor Tim Spector". King's Alumni Community. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "From 30 vegetables a week to faecal transplants: Keeping your gut microbiome happy is the key to healthy eating". The Independent. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Advice against eating fat was wrong. It is time the experts admitted it". Spectator Health. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  17. ^ "Go with your gut: Scientist Tim Spector on why food is not just fuel". TheGuardian.com. 15 May 2022.
  18. ^ a b Wakefield, Jane (25 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Tracking app aims for one million downloads". BBC News. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  19. ^ Wise, Jacqui (20 July 2020). "Covid-19: Study reveals six clusters of symptoms that could be used as a clinical prediction tool". BMJ. 370: m2911. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2911. ISSN 1756-1833. PMID 32690476.
  20. ^ "Expansion of national testing study will offer new COVID-19 insights". GOV.UK. Department of Health and Social Care. 19 August 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ "Zoe Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  22. ^ "ZOE: Videos". YouTube. Retrieved 25 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Peter Forbes. "Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes by Tim Spector – review | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  24. ^ Bee Wilson. "Spoon-Fed by Tim Spector review – food myths busted". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2021.

External links[edit]