Research Project: Understanding Nutrition through Biomics

The interactions between food and the human body are complex, involving multiple organ physiology on all levels of regulation namely, genes, proteins and metabolites. Understanding these interactions is fundamental to enhancing our understanding of nutrition. However, most evidence on nutrient derived health benefits comes from limited research or observational human studies. This is particularly true of dairy foods, especially cheese. To validate the observational studies and explain the underlying molecular interactions, Dr. Amalaradjou will investigate the effect of dairy foods on gut health using a mouse model.  This research will provide a comprehensive and deeper understanding of the molecular interactions that promote the health benefits associated with dairy consumption.  Advancing nutritional knowledge will provide science-based food awareness that can help promote healthful food choices.  In addition, in-depth understanding of interactions between nutrition and the host will help develop evidence-based dietary interventions in the prevention and management of chronic diseases.

About Dr. Amalaradjou

Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut

New InnovatorDr. Amalaradjou’s research program focuses on understanding how nutrition influences our health and well-being. Major efforts in her lab are directed towards i) elucidating the molecular cross talk between diet and host on all levels of regulation namely, genes, proteins and metabolites ii) comprehending the influence of diet on the gut microbiome and subsequently their transgenomic metabolic interactions iii) developing evidence-based dietary interventions for restoring health and preventing chronic pathologies. Through all aspects of her research, Mary Anne’s overall objective is to advance nutritional knowledge and create social awareness thereby promoting positive dietary changes and healthy food choices.

Dr. Amalaradjou earned her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut in 2010, her M.S. in Veterinary Science (Biochemistry) from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in 2004, and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Pondicherry University in 2002.

Q&A with Dr. Amalaradjou

Take a peek inside the lab of microbiologist Mary Anne Roshni Amalaradjou, Ph.D., an assistant professor at University of Connecticut and 2016 FFAR New Innovator Award Winner. We set out to discover what Dr. Amalaradjou is working on and how her work will impact food science.

Mary Anne Roshni Amalaradjou, Ph.D., working in her lab at University of Connecticut

Mary Anne Roshni Amalaradjou, Ph.D., working in her lab at University of Connecticut

What are your research interests?
I’m a microbiologist and I’m really into bugs – not the creepy crawly ones, but the ones you can’t see. I’m especially interested in addressing foodborne illnesses and how probiotics can improve gut health. There is a complex relationship between our bodies, disease, and foodborne illnesses. Microbiology is a fascinating area where you can study how the body responds to different pathogens and how gut health can impact overall health.

What are you working on as a New Innovator?
We know a lot about how individual vitamins or minerals can impact health, but we don’t know a lot about how foods(which are complex mixtures of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, lipids, vitamins and minerals) we eat interact with our gut and are used by the body. Your stomach has its own ecosystem and bacteria that make up your gut microbiome. Knowing how the food you eat impacts your gut health is key to understanding how to treat chronic health issues.

I’m studying how cheese, which is a source of good bacteria, impacts gut health and how eating certain types can influence overall health.

What impact will your research have?
We want to get good evidence and science-based knowledge out there to people so they can make decisions about the foods they eat. My research will help to better understand what the benefits can be obtained from eating certain types of cheese and how they can influence overall health.

Why is food science important?
My goal is to use food – something we eat every day – as medicine. We can’t do that unless we know the benefits we derive from the different foods that we eat  and how it can influence our health.

Science has the power to change human behavior. It changes what we eat and helps us make better choices. This research is vital to providing knowledge to the public so they can make better decisions about what they eat. I hope my research will eventually help people know how the food they eat influences their health.