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. Originally I was trained in plant biochemistry, but today most of my research and teaching relates to human health, food quality or food security.
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 horticulture. This includes the management 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 effect 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.
NU-Food (http://www.ncl.ac.uk/afrd/nufood/) is a new facility for food and consumer research, which comprises facilities for food production, sensory testing and food-related training activities, as well as facilities specifically designed for food related trials with
healthy volunteers. NU-Food was established in 2012 and launched in June 2013, and the facilities are available for both internal University users and external users from Industry or the general Community.
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.
Dr 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.
Dr Graciela Donald (née Silva Rocha), 'Evaluation of the Antinociceptive Properties of Hyptis crenata Pohl (Brazilian Mint)'. Co-supervisor Prof Colin Ingram. Alban scholarship. Awarded 2013.
Mr Salah Al-Hebeil, 'Quantification of bread crust crispness including the effects of selected additives'. Co-supervisor Prof Chris Seal. Libyan Government funded. Awarded 2013.
Mrs Najia Shwerif, 'Effects of temperature regimes under low light conditions on growth rate and phytochemical composition of lettuce and carrot plants'. Co-supervisors Dr Ed Okello and Dr Stephen Wilcockson. Libyan Government funded. Awarded 2014.
Ongoing PhD projects:
Mrs Safiya Mohammed Othoman, 'Amendments using silicate minerals and rocks as potassium fertilisers for plant nutrition in sandy soil'. Co-supervisors Prof David Manning and Dr Neil Gray. Libyan Government funded.
Mrs Huda Saleh, 'Effect of carrot feeding to APCMin mouse on intestinal tumours'. Main supervisor Dr Michael Carroll. Libyan Government funded.
Miss Rosemary Dew, 'Improvement of Product Quality and Shelf
Life of Fruit by Optimisation of Conditions during Transport and Storage'. Co-supervisor Prof Chris Seal. Funded by a donation from ASDA plc.
Mr Humphrey Garti, 'Effects of carrot consumption on intestinal
cancer risk'. Co-supervisors Dr Georg Lietz and Dr Jill McKay. Funded by the Ghanaian 'GET-Fund'.
Mr Othman Qadir, 'Effects of growing conditions of vegetables
on content of health - related compounds'. Co-supervisor Dr Mario Siervo. Funded by the Iraqi Government.
Miss Sarah Warner, 'The consumption of carrots and other
polyacetylene-rich vegetables on the effect on biomarkers of cancer risk'. Co-supervisor Prof Chris Seal. Funded by HDC, the Horticultural Development Company.
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 Advanced Food Science ML
ACE1018 Introductory Nutrition & Food Science
ACE3054 Plants as Food ML
ACE8051 Functional Foods in Nutrition and Health ML
ACE8051 Production of Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods
ACE8010 Understanding Plants as Food
Issues in Organic Farming (distance taught module in the PG degree in organic farming at SAC Aberdeen).