Mary Ann Lila, PhD

Mary Ann Lila, PhD


The Berry’s Enigma (PDF)


Dr. Mary Ann Lila, a David H. Murdock Distinguished Professor, is the Director of North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute on the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Dr. Lila, who was named to direct the institute in 2008, is an internationally known scientist. Her research focuses on three areas: studying health-enhancing compounds in blueberries and other berries, isolating phytochemicals that counteract malaria, and working with scientists and students from around the world to explore natural products for biomedical use.

Working with the Global Institute for BioExploration, or GIBEX, a research and development network she helped start while she was on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty, Lila works with scientists, students and traditional healers in developing nations and with Native Americans to identify plants that hold promise for human health. Lila’s work has taken her to Central and South Asia, New Zealand and Australia, Alaska and the Dakotas, Central and South America, and Africa. A professor in N.C. State’s Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, Lila is one of five N.C. State faculty members now working in the institute, which is expected to grow to 15 faculty members.


Berry Resources and Human Health under the Cloud of Climate Change

Mary Ann Lila1, Josh Kellogg2, & Courtney G. Flint2
1Plants for Human Health Institute, North Carolina State University, and
2Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois

Environmental extremes of the far northern latitudes, exacerbated by climate change and anthropogenic pressures, have repercussions for both the sustainability of wild endemic berries, and the risks perceived by the tribal community members who rely on potentially compromised indigenous resources. Wild resources (including berries, kelp, fish and caribou) are not only sources of nutrients and potent, medicinally-active natural compounds, but they are woven into the lifestyle, identity, and traditions of tribal communities. Wild berries may be a harbinger of how indigenous plants may adapt and thrive in the face of uncertain climatic shifts.