- Botanical therapeutics: discovery, characterization and development
Botanical therapeutics are defined as health and wellness products derived from plants and delivered in the form of drugs, dietary supplements (nutraceuticals), functional foods or cosmetic ingredients. We use modern research tools, a network of national and international collaborations and major funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and industry to study phytochemicals that improve human health and well-being. We use cellular and in vivo assays, spectrometry, bioinformatics and molecular biology to identify pharmacologically active phytochemicals and to study their effects and mechanisms of action. Our clinical targets include metabolic syndrome, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and gut microbiome. We are also developing technologies that naturally concentrate, stabilize and effectively deliver beneficial phytoactives from fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. Our research in the functional food area became the foundation for Nutrasorb, LLC.
- International BioExploration
Our laboratory is headquarters for the Global Institute for BioExploration GIBEX. GIBEX is a global research and development network that promotes ethical, natural product-based pharmacological bioexploration to benefit human health and the environment in twenty countries around the world. GIBEX is guided by the pioneering “Reversing the Flow” paradigm focused on bringing pharmacological screens (Screens-to-Nature technology) to developing countries, rather than removing natural resources from these countries. We train and equip local scientists and students with innovative, cost-effective, and portable bioactivity discovery tools and technologies directly deployable into forests, savannas, deserts, marshes and oceans. GIBEX has received funding from the US government (NIH, USDA, EPA), participating countries, European Union, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and TREE Institute International.
- Nutritional Breeding / Health-Centered Agriculture
The future of agriculture may lie in growing crops that improve human health, longevity, productivity, and quality of life, in addition to providing calories and basic nutrients. Several projects in our laboratory help farmers move to the forefront of producing healthier foods. We currently focus on using non-GMO technologies to enhance nutritional and health promoting properties of lettuce, the second most widely consumed vegetable in the world. Our first product, Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce, which contains more beneficial polyphenols (antioxidants) than blueberries, was introduced to the global market in the fall of 2014. Other nutritionally enhanced leafy vegetables should follow soon.
- Our Affiliations and Major Sources of Funding
- NIH Center for Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome
- NIH T32 Postdoctoral Training Program in Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome
- NIH International Research Training Center for Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome
- Global Institute for BioExploration
- Nutrasorb LLC