Originally I was trained in plant biochemistry. My research focuses on links between food quality, health of humans and animals, agricultural methods and plant chemistry.
In particular I am interested in the multidisciplinary aspects, where information from one subject area can be used to improve the understanding of processes and mechanisms in another area.
Presently an important part of my work is to coordinate efforts to increase the impact and application of Food Science and Nutrition at Newcastle University, linking a range of research groups with specialised expertise in food related areas, such as human nutrition, consumer science, clinical research, agronomy and economics. This includes the establishment of the new NU-Food facility (see the Research tab).
A particular priority area is human intervention trials to establish cause and effect information regarding the effec of foods and food supplements on human health.
The objectives are to enhance the impact and exploitation of the research and training activities in industry and society and to facilitate the creation and success of multidisciplinary research projects.
Until the end of 2003 I worked as senior scientist in the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, where I initiated several multi-disciplinary research programmes in the areas mentioned above.
Links between food quality, health of humans and animals, agricultural methods and plant chemistry,, in particular:
Research methods to definitively establish cause and effect documentation for foods or food supplements in relation to human health.
Effects of plant secondary metabolites (natural pesticides) on humans, in order to improve the beneficial impact of vegetables and other herbs on human health.
Plant adaptation to low-input conditions regarding product quality and susceptibility to pests and diseases, in order to improve the balance of environmental and economic sustainability in agriculture and horticulture.
The feedback mechanisms (conditioned taste aversion, nutrient sensing) that ensure innate preference for nutritious, non-toxic food, dependent on the present needs, in humans and other animals.
I work in the Food Quality and Health Research Group and am a member of the Human Nutrition Research Centre (www.ncl.ac.uk/hnrc/about/) and the Medicinal Plant Research Group (research.ncl.ac.uk/medplant/).
I am involved in several publicly or commercially funded human intervention studies to investigate a wide range of different potential health outcomes caused by specific foods or diets.
The human trials are carried out using the University's state of the art facilities including the Clinical Research Facility (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/crp/facilities/ncrf/index.htm) and the Clinical Ageing Research Unit (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/caru/). Each intervention trial is done in collaboration with the most relevant and qualified clinical specialists and statisticians to ensure the stringent quality standards as well as efficient and cost-effective delivery.
New facilities specifically designed for food related trials with healthy volunteers are currently being established and expected to open in 2012. They will be part of NU Food, a new facility for food and consumer research, which also will comprise facilities for food production, sensory testing and food-related training activities.
Completed PhD projects:
Dr Ahlam Rashed, 'Variation of bioactive constituents, sensory qualities and yield in carrots grown with different types of crop management'. Co-supervisors Dr Julia Cooper and Prof Carlo Leifert. Libyan Government funded. Awarded 2009.
Miss Dimitra Chormova, 'Effect of sustainable fertigation on greenhouse tomatoes in relation to plant growth, yield and fruit quality'. Co-supervisors Dr Ed Okello and Dr Robert Shiel. Greek Government scholarship. Awarded 2010
Ongoing PhD projects:
Miss Graciela Silva Rocha, 'Identification of bioactivities of well-defined extracts or compounds from Hyptis crenata Pohl'. Co-supervisor Prof Colin Ingram. Alban scholarship
Mr Salah Al-Hebeil, 'Effects of production method and recipes on bread quality and staling'. Co-supervisor Prof Chris Seal. Libyan Government funded.
Miss Najia Al-Shwerif, 'Effects of environmental factors on plant composition'. Co-supervisor Dr Ed Okello. Libyan Government funded.
Miss Amy Bilton, 'Elucidating the biological mode of action of the Citrox plant protection product using optimised laboratory testing'. Co-supervisors Karl Christensen and Ed Okello. Awarded 2011.
Mr Taro Murao, 'Effect of Soil Characteristics and Nitrogen Levels on Relative Competitive Ability of the Wheat and Chenopodium album'. Co-supervisor Carlo Leifert. Awarded 2007.
Larsen, E, Kharazmi, A, Christensen SB, Christensen LP & Brandt, K (2006). Use of glycosides of mono- and diacylglycerol as anti-inflammatory agents. US patent 7,084,122 B2
Degree Programme Director for Food & Human Nutrition BSc Honours B4D6
ACE2056 Food Science and Technology ML
ACE3073 Advance Food Science ML
ACE1018 Introductory Nutrition
ACE3054 Plants as Food ML
ACE8051 Functional Foods in Nutrition and Health ML
ACE8051 Production of Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods
Issues in Organic Farming (distance taught module in the PG degree in organic farming at SAC Aberdeen).