Research philosophy

Our lab adopts a reverse engineering approach to food formulation & process design with the aim to tailor foods to consumer’s preferences, acceptance and physiological needs. These efforts seek to obtain comprehensive understanding and control over complex compositions, structures, physical and chemical reactions alongside understanding of the consumer needs. In practice, our activities cluster into two main thrusts: [I] Development and implementation of in vitro human digestion models in rational design of functional and value-added products [II] Fundamental studies of food colloids and hydrocolloids.

In vitro digestion models and -omics analyses for food rational design

Since its establishment in 2010, our group is an active member and one of the workgroup leaders of INFOGEST (International network on food digestion). within which we defined and aligned the first harmonized in vitro digestion protocol that was later standardized into Nature protocol for adult in vitro digestion modeling for food research. To this end, one of our key contributions has been the development of additional in vitro digestion models, namely an elderly gastro-intestinal model later adopted into a consensus protocol for food digestion research in seniors. We have also our group made another contribution to the field by developing and implementing an in vitro digestion model accounting for sex differences between men and women. This growing expertise into the triage of processing, food formulation and digestion has been elemental in our contribution to food research as well as central in our industrial projects, commercial services and international collaborations; All reinforcing and validating the impact of our scientific work.

Fundamental food colloid and hydrocolloid science and nano-science

Our lab is also engaged in fundamental food research into food colloids and functionality of food additives. To this end, our group’s contributions:

  1. Rationally designed edible delivery systems based on starch architectures and/or protein nano-particles or fibrils as well as designed Pickering emulsions with edible colloids attaining modulated digetive breakdwon.
  2. Helped underpin the causative role of electrostatic biopolymer interactions in carrageenan’s antinutrtional effects in adults and children or in seniors
  3. Elucidated how alternative foods and edible insects, like crickets or silk worms,may be differentially digested and insects’ potential impact on the colon microbiota.

Overall, the program has positioned a distinctive research avenue that intersects rational design of functional and innovative foods with analyses of their potential digestive fate in different strata of the population. Thus, the program continues to feed the vivid field of food innovations with systematic fundamental and applied research that catalyzes the manufacturing of healthier food choices for different people.