Category Archives: 2017

Chantal Matar, PhD, RD

Dr. Chantal Matar

Dr. Chantal Matar

2017 Presentation Title – Mechanisms of Chemoprevention of Breast Cancer by Biofermented Blueberry Preparation: An Interface Between Nutrition and Cancer

Dr. Chantal Matar obtained her Ph.D. in Food Sciences and Technology from Laval University, Canada (1997) and a Dietetic Internship from Ottawa Hospital (2010). Her expertise is focused on in vivo assessing of functional foods (probiotic, bioactive peptides, and polyphenol-enriched nutraceutical preparations) in immunosurveillance, anti- inflammatory response and chemoprevention of cancer by controlling cancer stem cells and microRNAs. In collaboration with the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, she established a prevention-based research program on nutrition and neoplasia mechanisms. She successfully managed and led active research lab in biomedical, nutrition/immunology/cancer. She is an established investigator with proven track record of supervising highly qualified personnel. She authored more than 110 communications, including 40 referred papers and book chapters, and 4 patent applications.

She is particularly involved in the research on nutrition and health, probiotics, microbiome and chemoprevention of breast and skin cancer by functional foods and was successful in acquiring research funding from different research agencies.

She is maintaining strong collaborations at both national and international levels, as evidenced by international awards: 1) Best Research Award from Trade and Industry Ministry (Japan) for a new study presented at the 24th and 22nd International Congress on Nutrition and Integrative Medicine held in Sapporo, Japan 2014, 2) Life Member of the Association of International Union Against Cancer Fellows and Visiting Scientist at WHO 2009, and 3) Scientific Advisor for the International Life Sciences Institute North America Canadian Advisory Committee 2016.

Dr. Chris Gill

Dr. Chris Gill

Dr. Chris Gill

2019 Presentation Title – Impact of Raspberries on Vascular Architecture and Cognitive Function in a Transgenic Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Chris Gill is Senior lecturer in nutrition, Associate Research Director for Biomedical Sciences at the Ulster University and thematic leader for “Phytochemicals and gut health” within the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE). His research focuses on the influence of diet (both terrestrial and marine plants) on gut health investigated through in vitro, animal and human models. Dr. Gill has published 30+ research papers, 6 book chapters and 1 patent, developed of an extensive research network with internationally leading research centres and secured significant research income from a range of sources from prestigious sources including the EU, BBSRC NPRC and FIRM. He is currently an Editor for the European Journal of Nutrition, a member of the ILSI Europe Human Microbiome Research Study Guidance Expert Group and a recent recipient of the Ulster University Distinguished Research Fellowship.

Pamela Maher, PhD

Dr. Pamela Maher2017 Presentation Title – The Berry Flavonoid Fisetin is Protective in Multiple Animal Models of Age-Associated Neurological Disorder 

Pamela Maher is at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. She has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from McGill University and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of British Columbia. She did her postdoctoral work with Jon Singer at the University of California, San Diego. After helping to establish a research program at the Whittier Institute in La Jolla with Nobel Laureate Roger Guillemin, she held a faculty position at Scripps Research Institute before joining the Salk Institute in 2004.

As a postdoctoral fellow, she was instrumental in the development of the technology used for the detection of phosphorylated proteins involved in cell signaling pathways, opening up a whole new field of cell biology. She then used these methods to discover several novel mechanisms for the transfer of information within cells.

Dr. Maher has also published extensively in the area of growth factors in the nervous system, and on the basis of this work identified several natural products that mimic the effects of protein growth factors in the nervous system. Since protein growth factors are of limited use for the treatment of brain diseases because they cannot get into the brain, the identification of small molecules that readily enter the brain and mimic the effects of protein growth factors provides a new therapeutic avenue for the treatment of nervous system diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Her recent work has focused on identifying additional natural products that are effective against brain diseases, improving the natural products already identified using medicinal chemistry and characterizing their molecular targets so as to provide additional approaches to the treatment of brain diseases. She has over 125 peer-reviewed publications and is currently supported by both public and private funding agencies.

Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale

Dr Barbara Shuikitt-Hale

2019 Berries and the Brain Session Chair

Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale is a USDA Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Neuroscience and Aging, USDA-ARS, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, MA. Additionally, she serves as an Affiliate Faculty member in the Psychology Department and a Visiting Scholar in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Boston University in 1993.

In 1996, Dr. Shukitt-Hale was awarded the Glenn Post-Doctoral Award, presented by the American Aging Association. She is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and has served as a board member and secretary of the American Aging Association. Dr. Shukitt-Hale has been involved in research for almost 30 years, beginning when she was an undergraduate student at Boston University; this work earned her the Research Award, given at graduation to the best student researcher in the Psychology Department. Before coming to the HNRCA, she worked as a Research Psychologist in the Division of Health and Performance and as a Neuroscientist in the Military Performance and Neuroscience Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM).

Dr. Shukitt-Hale’s current work involves researching the behavioral and neurochemical effects of aging in rodents, specifically investigating motor and cognitive performance changes due to oxidative stress, using the free-radical theory of aging as a working model. Her work includes determining the factors responsible for age-related behavioral changes and possible amelioration of these effects with various nutritional treatments. Her work showing that a diet supplemented with blueberry extract could reverse functional age-related deficits in motor and cognitive behavior has had a tremendous impact in the popular press. She continues to research the mechanisms behind the berry fruit’s positive effects, and has found that they 1) have direct effects on signaling to enhance neuronal communication, 2) have the ability to buffer against excess calcium, 3) enhance neuroprotective stress shock proteins, and 4) reduce stress signals and increase neurogenesis. She has published more than 166 articles and selected papers.

April J. Stull, PhD RD

April Stull, PhD2017 Presentation Title – Blueberries: Is it a “Berry” Good Idea for Cardiovascular Health?

Dr. Stull is an Associate Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Her research focuses on botanicals and their impact on risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Specifically, Dr. Stull’s lab found that supplementation with blueberries for 6 weeks improved insulin sensitivity and endothelial function in adult obese men and women that had metabolic syndrome. Dr. Stull received federal (National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) and nonprofit (US Highbush Blueberry Council) funding to support her blueberry research. She has published numerous book chapters and manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals related to the health benefits of blueberries. Additionally, she has presented her research findings at many international and national conferences. Dr. Stull is very involved in various professional organizations, such as the American Society for Nutrition (Chair 2013-2014, Young Professional Interest Group; Vice Chair 2015-present, Minority and Diversity Affairs Committee), American Diabetes Association, and NIDDK Network of Minority Health Research Investigators.

Dr. Stull is also a Registered Dietitian and attained her Ph.D. in Nutrition Science from Purdue University. Her graduate training was followed by a National Institutes of Health T32 postdoctoral fellowship in diabetes, nutrition, and botanicals at Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA).

During her fellowship, she received the MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) Postdoctoral Professional Development and Enrichment Award. Recently, she was honored as a Diamond of the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University. This award recognized her contributions to advancing the field of Nutrition. In her spare time, Dr. Stull enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and scrapbooking.

Li-Shu Wang, PhD

Li-Shu Wang, PhD2019 Presentation Title – Are We Ready for Precision Cancer Prevention Using Black Raspberries?

Dr. Wang is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin. She received her Ph.D. in Veterinary Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University in June, 2006. Currently, she is an editorial member for Journal of Berry Research and e-Food Journal. Dr. Wang has published in high-rank journals in the field of cancer prevention such as Clinical Cancer Research, Carcinogenesis, Cancer Prevention Research, Cancer Immunology Research, Frontiers in Immunology, International Journal of Cancer, etc. Dr. Wang’s expertise is in colorectal cancer (CRC) biology and prevention in animals and humans.

The major goal of Dr. Wang’s research is to translate the findings from bench to bedside. Using bio-directed fractionation, Dr. Wang showed that the anthocyanins in black raspberries (BRBs) are important for their chemopreventive effects and she provided evidence that the ellagitannins may be less important. More importantly, she has evidence that BRBs cause demethylation of tumor suppressor genes in rodent and human colon leading to their enhanced expression in two human clinical trials. The protective effects of BRBs against human and mouse CRC are associated, at least in part, with their hypomethylation activities. Loss of responses to berry treatment in humans may be due to decreased sensitivity to berry-induced DNA demethylation. Further, BRB intervention induces significant metabolic changes and affects energy generating pathways in CRC patients.

Recently, Dr. Wang’s laboratory is investigating the mechanisms of active metabolites from BRBs to influence colon and pancreatic cancer immunology through epigenetic modifications. The results from animal models of both cancer types indicate that berries dampen tumor-induced immune suppressive microenvironment by decreasing CD11b+ myeloid cells, and boosting CD8+ T-cell and natural killer cells. In an effort to translate laboratory findings to clinics, Dr. Wang’s group is investigating the effects of BRBs on DNA methylation in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). The aim of this pilot clinical trial is to evaluate the hypomethylating properties of BRBs in MDS patients after 3 months of BRB supplementation.

Dr. Arpita Basu

Arpita Basu, PhD 2017

Arpita Basu, PhD

2019 Presentation Title – Dietary Berries, Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Education: PhD, Nutrition & Food Sciences, Texas Woman’s University (2005); Postdoctoral training, UC Davis Medical Center; Registered Dietitian (RD);faculty appointment in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State University (OSU) since 2006. Currently, Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Nutritional Sciences, UNLV.

Awards received: Marguerite Scruggs Award for meritorious early career research in Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State University (2009); Best Poster Award (2008 & 2013) American College of Nutrition (ACN) annual conference; Best Poster Award (2005 & 2006) American Society for Nutrition (ASN) annual conference; 58 peer-reviewed original research publications and abstracts.

My teaching and research interests focus on the role of functional foods and phytochemical-based nutraceuticals in reducing risks and complications of diabetes and related cardiovascular conditions. My research group conducts controlled human intervention studies on food and beverages of medicinal health effects such as, green tea, berries, and pomegranate extracts in participants with the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. We are specifically interested in examining effects on traditional and emerging biomarkers in the clinical progression of diabetes and CVD as modulated by functional foods and phytochemicals.

Dr. Farrukh Aqil

Dr. Farrukh Aqil

Dr. Farrukh Aqil

2017 Presentation Title – Berry Anthos for the Management of Various Cancers

Farrukh Aqil, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville. He received his doctorate in Microbiology from Aligarh Muslim University, India and has extensive experience of over 14 years in phytochemistry, microbiology, cancer biology and cancer prevention. Prior to moving to the United States as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Cancer Chemoprevention Group, he has a faculty in the Department of Biotechnology, Integral University, India.

His research focus is on cancer chemoprevention primarily of breast, lung and ovarian cancers using both standard chemotherapeutic drugs and agents from natural origin like berries. In the last few years, his focus has been to evaluate the effectiveness of selected berries against lung cancer. In another project, he has focused on chemopreventive efficacy and mechanisms of whole-berry and spice powder against breast cancer. He has developed analytical techniques for tissue and plasma distribution of bioactive principles. Finally, he is developing novel combinatorial approaches for the treatment of lung and ovarian cancer by testing natural agents and standard chemo drugs using drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cancer cells.

More recently, he has played a key role in the development of polymeric implants for continuous systemic and local delivery of drugs, a technology which has fetched several patents. Another upcoming drug delivery technology in which he has also played a key role is based on biocompatible exosomes for delivery of small molecules and siRNAs. He showed that exosomes can deliver chemopreventives and chemotherapeutics effectively. He has participated in many conferences and presented his work in the form of 75 abstracts/oral presentations. Dr. Aqil has authored or co-authored over 55 articles in peer-reviewed journals, has 13 book chapters and has edited 4 books. He is an associate editor for the International Research Journal of Microbiology and serves as peer reviewer for more than 30 journals.

Mary Ann Lila, PhD

Dr. Mary Ann Lila

Dr. Mary Ann Lila

2019 Presentation Title – Berries – – They’re Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Mary Ann Lila is the inaugural Director of the Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Research Campus. She holds the David H. Murdock Distinguished Professorship, and is a Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences. Through ground-breaking, transdisciplinary discovery and outreach, her team of faculty at the Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) pioneers a dramatic shift in the way the American public views and uses food crops – not merely as a source of nutrients and flavorful calories, but as a powerful resource for components that protect and enhance human health. Integrated research in metabolomics, biochemistry, pharmacogenomics, molecular breeding, regenerative medicine, translational food science and nutrition and postharvest are aimed at development and promotion of mainstream fruit and vegetable produce with enhanced health benefits, and introduction of new or underappreciated crops and products from various sites throughout the globe, allowing consumers to make proactive, responsible dietary choices that benefit their own, and their families’ health.

Dr. Lila is currently a co-Director of an ambitious public-private Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) which synergizes the talents of academia and industry. Other current research projects include a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research initiative on ‘Closing the gap in delivery of fruit and vegetable benefits’, USDA-funded initiatives on polyphenol-protein colloids for attenuation of food allergies, on the science behind Alaska’s traditional subsistence lifestyle, and on saffron as a high value culinary and medicinal niche crop, and a Comparative Medicine Institute grant for developing the neonatal pig as a model for human food allergies.

Dr. Lila has been awarded the Paul A. Funk Scholarship Recognition Award (the premier research award in the College of ACES, University of Illinois), the Spitze Professorial Career Excellence Award, the Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, the University Scholar Award, the Amoco Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction, and the Lilly Endowment Teaching Fellowship. Dr. Lila has ongoing research projects in Australia, New Zealand, and multiple countries in Europe, the Americas and Africa, and is Vice President of the Global Institute for BioExploration (GIBEX). In 1999, Dr. Lila won a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to conduct research and outreach in New Zealand, and returns to Australasia at least once/year.

Amy Howell, PhD

Amy Howell, PhD

Amy Howell, PhD

2017 Presentation Title – Ulcers, Stomach Cancer, Antibiotic Resistance and Cranberries: What’s the Connection? 

Dr. Amy B. Howell is an associate research scientist at the Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University, where she works on isolating natural products from cranberries that benefit health.

Since 1993, Dr. Howell has been engaged in research aimed at identifying the active compounds in cranberries that prevent urinary tract infections and determining their role in maintenance of urinary tract health. Dr. Howell and her team isolated specific compounds from cranberry fruit, called proanthocyanidins (PACs), which they found to be capable of preventing E. coli bacteria from attaching to cells from the urinary tract. This work was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1998.

In a subsequent publication in The Journal of the American Medical Association, she reported on cranberry’s potential role in preventing antibiotic-resistant bacteria from colonizing the urinary tract. Her work on identification of the unique molecular structures of the A-type cranberry PACs has been published in both Phytochemistry and the Journal of Natural Products.

Currently, she is engaged in projects to determine additional mechanisms of action in the gut for cranberry and maintenance of urinary tract health. She is closely involved in method development for accurate quantification of cranberry PACs in powdered supplements to enable the cranberry industry to develop, manufacture and market high quality, efficacious products for human and animal nutrition. She is currently involved in writing the USP monographs on cranberry, and serves on the AOAC SPSFAM Proanthocyanidins in Cranberries (PAC) Working Group.

She has presented her research findings at numerous professional meetings in the U.S. and internationally, and her work has been featured in magazines and newspapers (NY Times, etc.) and has been a guest on radio and television shows (NPR, Dr. Oz, Today Show, Good Morning America, etc.)