All posts by Darcy Kochis

Navindra Seeram, PhD

Navindra Seeram

Navindra Seeram, PhD

2019 Berry Special Topics, Food Technology and Chemistry Session Chair

Navindra P. Seeram, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Rhode Island, USA. Prior to this, he was the Assistant Director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition in the Department of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

His research group, the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory, investigates medicinal plants and their derived natural products for preventive and therapeutic effects against chronic human diseases. Dr. Seeram has co-authored over 165 original peer-reviewed research articles, 10 review-type articles, 17 book chapters, and 6 international patents. He has co-edited 3 books and is the founding editor of the Clinical Pharmacognosy book series published by CRC Press/Taylor and Francis. He serves on the advisory board of the American Botanical Council and on the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the Journal of Berry Research, and the International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products.

He was the recipient of the 2009 Young Scientist Award from the Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and the 2017 Chair of that Division. He is among the most highly cited scientists in Agricultural Sciences by Thomson Reuters in 2014-2018 (based on Web of Science indexed citations from 2002-2018) and is regularly quoted in the media and popular press about medicinal plant foods. Dr. Seeram did his doctoral and postdoctoral studies at the University of the West Indies (in Jamaica) and at Michigan State University (MI, USA), respectively.

Shanil Juma, PhD

Dr Shanil Juma

Dr Shanil Juma

2017 Presentation Title – Berries and Bone Health: From In Vitro to Clinical Evidence

Shanil Juma’s main research interest is investigating the etiology of age-related conditions, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, as a basis for the development of effective nutritional strategies for the prevention and management of these disorders. These research projects employ analytical, biochemical, and molecular techniques using cell culture and animal models, as well as small-scale clinical trials. The focus of these investigations is to elucidate the anti-inflammatory, bone, and joint protective properties of naturally occurring bioactive compounds present in whole foods (functional foods, e.g. blueberries, raspberries, grape, tart cherries etc.).

Dr. Juma’s secondary research focus is on obesity and obesity-related metabolic conditions (diabetes, cardiovascular, etc.). Current studies are focused on food components such as resistant starch, spices (curcumin, cinnamon, etc), and berry polyphenols (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, etc.) on weight management, glucose homeostasis, and gut health.

Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD

Dr Bahram Arjmandi

Dr Bahram Arjmandi

2017 Presentation Title – Cardioprotective Effects of Berries and the Probable Mechanism of Action

Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD is currently the Margaret A. Sitton Named Professor at Florida State University (FSU) and is the founder and Director of the Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging (CAENRA) at FSU. He has also served in numerous capacities at FSU, including being a member of the FSU Biomedical Advisory Committee, the Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and as the chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences for eight years. Dr. Arjmandi is a Registered Dietitian who received his Ph.D. from the Department of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University where he studied the effect of soluble fiber on sterol synthesis and later completed his postdoctoral work in the area of estrogen and bone physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center. His current research emphasis is women’s health including cardiovascular health, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis. In recognition of his accomplishments in women’s health, he received the Abbott Nutrition Award in Women’s Health in 2013. He was one of the first investigators to provide evidence for estrogen receptors in the gut to aid in calcium transport and to demonstrate the efficacy of dried plum in protecting bone in both animal models of osteoporosis and postmenopausal women. He has also conducted clinical studies examining the beneficial effects of berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries on cardiovascular health. He has received grants from USDA, NIH, NASA and state agencies to support his research and has also served as a panel member for NIH and panel member and panel manager for USDA/NRI. Dr. Arjmandi was one of the twelve invited US forum delegates to the Traditional Indian Systems of Medicine Symposium sponsored by the NIH and the Indian government. He has published more than 125 peer-reviewed journal articles and has received numerous recognitions for his scholarly research and graduate student advisement including the Margaret Scruggs Award for Meritorious Research, the Regents Distinguished Research Award at Oklahoma State University (OSU), and Distinguished Research Award at Kansas State University.

In addition to his research endeavors, Dr. Arjmandi was awarded the Outstanding Mentor Award three times at OSU and was recognized as an Outstanding Alumni from the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University, and was the recipient of The Dr. Masoro Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2012.

Dr. Arjmandi is serving as Editor-in- Chief for the Journal of Food & Nutrition Disorders and as editorial board member of several other journals including the Journal of Diabetes Mellitus and Preventative Nutrition and Food Science. He is also a member of several worldwide organizations including the International Bone and Mineral Society and the North American Menopause Society.

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

2022 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.

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.