Plants for Health Experts

Plants can serve as a source not only of nutrients but also of compounds that protect and enhance human health. These so-called secondary compounds — phytochemicals that aren’t directly involved in a plant’s normal growth, development or reproduction — help the plants protect and defend themselves and attract pollinators. When eaten, they can yield health benefits for the consumer. College scientists search for and identify such plant components in North Carolina and around the global. Also, through integrated research in metabolomics, biochemistry, pharmacogenomics, breeding and postharvest technology, they work to improve fruit and vegetable crops to counteract human disease, fight fatigue and enhance strength.

James Ballington
Horticultural Science

Muscadine grape breeding and evaluation for phenolic content and antioxidant activity as well as other health benefits and quality traits

Allan Brown
Assistant Professor
Horticultural Science

Investigation of the genetics and stability of secondary metabolites in fruits and vegetables that have known health effects

David Danehower
Crop Science

Development of methods for analyzing the active principles in phyto-pharmaceutical crops; protocols for the germination, propagation and agronomic production of these plants; and nutraceuticals from tobacco

Jeanine Davis
Associate Professor
Horticultural Science

Research and education programs related to the cultivation of native woodland botanicals with medicinal properties

Lisa Dean
Assistant Professor (USDA)
Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences

Examination of peanut skins as source of natural antioxidant compounds for human health

Connie Fisk
Extension Associate
Horticultural Science

Evaluation of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of bio-available phenolic compounds in grape cultivars

Keith Harris
Assistant Professor
Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences

Investigation of functional properties of plant foods, including the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoids and related compounds

Scott Laster

Evaluation of compounds from medicinal plants for their ability to prevent the growth of influenza and to offset symptoms associated with meningitis, periotonitis and endotoxemia; and research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms that trigger inflammation

Mary Ann Lila
Professor and Director, Plants for Human Health Institute
Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences

Discovery and pre-clinical characterization of bioactive plant compounds with benefits for human health (hypoglycemic and adaptogenic properties and prophylaxis against malaria)

Joe-Ann McCoy
Germplasm Laboratory Director
Horticultural Science

Development of N.C. Medicinal Germplasm Repository at the N.C. Arboretum

Dilip Panthee
Assistant Professor
Horticultural Science

Tomato breeding, including evaluating for content of lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-cancer properties

Penelope Perkins-Veazie
Horticultural Science

Post-harvest research into the quality and nutritional value of fruit and vegetable crops (lutein and citrulline in cucumber, antioxidant content of blackberry and raspberry and carotenoid profile of tomato and watermelon)

Sara Spayd
Horticultural Science

Evaluation of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of bio-available phenolic compounds in grape cultivars

Todd Wehner
Professor and Assistant Department Head
Horticultural Science

Breeding watermelon for high lycopene, prolycopene and citrulline content; cantaloupe for resistance to food-borne pathogens; and cucumber for high lutein content

Deyu Xie
Assistant Professor
Plant Biology

Isolation, structural identification, biosynthesis and metabolic engineering of plant flavonoids from medicinal plants and crops, including Artemisia annua for antimalarial drug; and finding sources for protection against and treatment of aging diseases and cancer

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