NUTRACEUTICALS
Research Group

Nutraceuticals Research

The area of Nutraceuticals has long been the focus of the research group headed by Professor Manohar Garg. Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements and functional foods have been the research focus of the many successful research higher degree students and postdoctoral fellows. This group brings together a number of academic staff members and their research personnel from the Faculty of Health and Medicine, Faculty of Science & IT and Faculty of Education & Arts under one umbrella.

Description of the area of research

The focus of the Nutraceuticals Research Group (NRG) is currently on edible fats and oils, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules and their effects on intermediary metabolism to delineate the role of these factors in chronic illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, mental health, respiratory diseases and other inflammatory conditions. Concurrent to this is a developing interest in sports nutrition and the enhancement of performance through the control of inflammation (using adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids and other dietary supplements etc). The NRG also focuses on sustainable weight loss strategies and metabolic consequences in overweight and obese people.

The NRG is currently is heavily focused on conducting human clinical trials to validate the health claims regarding the safety and efficacy of nutraceuticals and functional foods. The bringing together of research expertise in order to take advantage of these areas will place the University of Newcastle into an enviable position at the forefront of nutraceuticals and functional foods research.

Significance

The area of nutrition research is important to the health of populations throughout the world. The impact of altered nutrition on the public health expenditure is well documented. Chronic, nutrition related illness impacts significantly on the developing as well as the developed world, whether it be under or over nutrition the impact on the individual, social groups and populations is immense.

The area of nutrition has long been recognised to be important, and more recently it has been made a focus of government, state and institution's areas of interest for research. It is an identified area of interest in Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI),  National Health and Medical Research Council and many national government organisations such as the Heart Foundation and Diabetes Australia also focus a large proportion of their research dollars into nutrition research. The group has tremendous track record of attracting research funds from the industries involved in marketing and manufacturing of food, nutritional and bioactive natural products.

Strategic Directions and Outcomes

Objectives:

The objective of the group is to bring researchers working in the area of nutrition, dietary supplements and functional foods together under one umbrella. This NRG draws together the individuals conducting nutrition related research from various disciplines including respiratory medicine, cardiology, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, nutrition and dietetics, human physiology, medical biochemistry, human nutrition and food science.

Strategic directions:

  • To establish a centre of excellence in nutraceuticals and functional foods research within the University of Newcastle.
  • To improve the profile of nutrition research.
  • To engage interested parties in collaborative research in the area of nutraceuticals and functional foods.

3 year outcomes:

  • To have the research area of 'nutraceuticals" fully recognised by the University of Newcastle.
  • To attract research dollars from the competitive and non-competitive schemes, RHD students and research only personnel to the area of nutraceuticals research.
  • To create an umbrella organisation that can encourage the collaborative and interdisciplinary, multi-professional approach to research that is needed to attract the interest of the national and international science community.

Personnel in Nutraceuticals Research Group

Academics

Prof Manohar Garg - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Professor Peter Howe – School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Professor Robin Callister - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Dr Lisa Wood - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy

Research Only Staff

Dr Melinda Phang – Research Associate
Dr Rachel Wong – Postdoctoral Fellow

Post Graduate Research Students: as at April, 2013

Mr Adam Birchnell - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Mr Faizan Jameel - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Ms Jency Thomas- School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Mr Faizul Addnan - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Ms Cintia Dias - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Ms Qian Li - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy
Ms Amani Alhazmi – School of Health Sciences
Ms Talya Bridges – School of Health Sciences
Mr Abdallah Ayoub - School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy

Current Research Projects

  • Innovative foods for vascular health
  • Wine components and respiratory diseases
  • Fish oil (long chain omega-3 fatty acids) in human health and disease
  • Cognitive function in people with diabetes type 2
  • Role of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in sustainable weight loss
  • Dietary supplements and inflammation in trained athletes
  • Fatty acid metabolism in asthma during pregnancy
  • Carotenoids in asthma
  • Nutrition and obesity in children & adolescents
  • Green tea antioxidants and human health
  • Phytosterols and cardiovascular health

Current Research Funding

Equipment commonly used in our labs

  • High performance liquid chromatography
  • Gas chromatography
  • Enzyme linked immuno-assays (ELISA)
  • Whole blood aggregometer
  • Cell/tissue culture
  • Bioelectric impedance
  • Transcranial doppler ultrasound
  • Ambulatory blood pressure monitors

For more information contact:

Prof Manohar Garg - School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy