At the corner of eating and healthy: Ohio State center targets functional foods

Ohio State’s Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship, or CAFFRE, focuses on the complex relationship between diet and health.

Part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, which includes OARDC, CAFFRE involves researchers from eight other units across campus, including the College of Medicine and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

CAFFRE’s focus, “From Crops to the Clinic to the Consumer,” is made possible by Ohio State’s breadth of expertise, said Steven Schwartz (pictured), who is CAFFRE’s director, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, and holder of the Carl E. Haas Endowed Chair in Food Industries.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visits CAFFRE and speaks on functional-foods research in 2012. (Video: CFAES Communications.)

“The greatest advantage of CAFFRE is that it provides the opportunity to collaborate with researchers across campus,” he said. “There are very few institutions across the country where researchers in medicine, nutrition and agriculture have that kind of proximity.”

“There are very few institutions across the country where researchers in medicine, nutrition and agriculture have that kind of proximity.”—Steven Schwartz

Place ‘where innovations occur’

  • “Just to be able to sit down in the same room and brainstorm, and then work together on seed projects with support from different colleges, has created strong teams of individuals,” Schwartz said. “Bringing people together from different disciplines is where innovations occur.”
  • Recent projects include studying how a nectar made from black raspberries could protect against certain types of cancers; examining carotenoids from red tomatoes and from specially developed orange tomatoes; and studying the type of fat in avocadoes and how it helps the body absorb carotenoids (see “Avocado? Don’t mind if I do …” in this issue).

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