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UCD Institute of Food & Health – An International Leader in Food and Health Research

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UCD Institute of Food & Health – An International Leader in Food and Health Research

UCD Institute of Food & Health – An International Leader in Food and Health Research
April 30
15:56 2014

The Institute of Food and Health at University College Dublin is a major campus-wide initiative designed to develop and conduct world class, multi-disciplinary research into food and health. The Institute collaborates closely with the food and beverage industry, both domestically and internationally.

Bringing together UCD staff with active research programmes in the area of food and health into one centre of excellence, the Institute conducts research across four key themes: Food Quality and Processing; Food Safety; Personalised Nutrition and Health; and Food Chain Sustainability.

Research Excellence

The Institute currently has 35 academic staff members, approximately 50 research staff and 130 graduate students funded through a significant research income. Since 2008 the Institute has won over Eur53 million from competitive grant awards. Of this funding approximately 25% has come through projects funded both directly and indirectly from industry involving partnerships with companies including: Nestlé, Cereal Partners, Coca-Cola, Abbott Nutrition, Glanbia, Kerry Group, Carbery, Dairygold, Dawn Meats, Kepak, Dawn Farm Foods, Largo Foods, Mead Johnson, Pzifer and Diageo.

Professor Dolores O’Riordan, Director of the UCD Institute of Food and Health.

Currently ranked amongst the top five European Universities and the top 20 globally in Food Science and Technology output, the Institute is unique in its capacity to move its research from primary agricultural production, through to food science and engineering, and from veterinary public health to food safety and nutrition, right through to food regulation and consumer research.

Health and Wellness

The Institute’s strengths and capabilities align closely with the growing consumer and food industry concern about ‘health and wellness.’ Indeed, the Institute works closely with industry to ensure that its areas of scientific research remain relevant.

“A central tenet of the Institute’s philosophy is the translation of its research for commercial, economic and societal impact,” explains Professor Dolores O’Riordan, Director of the UCD Institute of Food and Health. “The Institute, through its critical mass in the area of food and health, is strongly positioned to: provide new innovations for product and process development; develop cutting edge food safety diagnostics; develop know-how to ensure traceability and sustainability of the food supply chain, both locally and globally; and further understand the link between diet and disease.”

Recent examples of Research and NPD projects carried out in collaboration with food and drink manufacturers, which illustrate the Institute’s expertise in this area, include:

* Formulation and processing protocols for the manufacture of high protein, high fibre snacks.

* Formulation of beverages for enhanced sport performance and testing their efficacy.

* Formulation of low calorie confectionery products.

* Development of in-line sensors to enhance manufacturing efficiency of dairy products.

* Recovery of bioactives from waste streams.

* Development of diagnostics and manufacturing technologies to enhance the safety of infant milk formula.

* Establish if and why bioactives control glycaemic response in vivo.

* Establish the authenticity of meat products.

Interface With Industry

Professor O’Riordan’s career is indicative of the close links with industry that she is now fostering at UCD Institute of Food and Health. After completing a BSc in Dairy Science and PhD in Protein Chemistry at University College Cork, she spent some time as a research fellow at both UCC and Cornell University. In 1989, she joined Kerry Ingredients, where she was responsible for the development and promotion of innovative milk ingredients for the Irish, UK, mainland Europe, North and South American markets.

The Institute currently has 35 academic staff members, approximately 50 research staff and 130 graduate students.

Since joining UCD in 1995, she has secured substantial funding of about Eur22 million from competitively won grants to conduct research in the area of food ingredients/health inducing food ingredients. The underlying aim of her research is to create foods that enhance health benefits and are acceptable and pleasing to consumers. The majority of the research grants she has won have a significant industrial contribution. Professor O’Riordan has now established a critical mass and an internationally recognised research team in the area of health inducing foods at UCD.

“We continue to invest in staff recruitment and infrastructure to provide the skill set needed to deliver the support industry requires,” she remarks. “We work in a collaborative manner to provide the holistic solutions that industry needs.”

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