Director's Statement

Dr. Bruce R. Hamaker

Dr. Bruce R. Hamaker

Director of Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research
(765) 494-5668

» More about Dr. Hamaker

Greetings from the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research at Purdue University. We are proud to present our 2017 annual report for you to peruse. Feel free to get back to us with any questions. In this last year, we have expanded our research in structure-function relationships of dietary fibers and the gut microbiome with the growing research group of Prof. Steve Lindemann, who started a new program in 2015 in gut microbial ecology. In the broader area of carbohydrates and health, we continue studies on control of glycemic carbohydrate digestion and physiological responses of carbohydrate-based foods, and other carbohydrate polymer-based materials related to health. This is in addition to the myriad of topics that we continue to research on carbohydrate structures and their material or physical functions in foods: how sugar can be reduced while using replacement sugars or oligosaccharides that provide similar textures, the variability in structures and functions of carbohydrates and product quality, the genetics of making new functional food carbohydrates, and many other carbohydrate structures and their functions. In many instances, we work on these projects with our member companies on both short- and long-term research problems.

The world is changing in many ways, as is the world of food carbohydrates - with changing consumer perception of carbohydrates' role in the diet, new regulatory pressures to reduce sugar and increase dietary fiber, and increased interest in clean label functional carbohydrates. At the Whistler Center, we internally fund research projects for our member companies and currently investigate new starches for clean labeling, sugars and oligosaccharides and their effect on starch gelatinization and product texture. We will fund two new projects in 2018 on sugar reduction and product quality and function of nondigestible carbohydrates in the gut related to tolerability and microbiome health. In light of changes in the way the world communicates, we are interested to see how we can improve our communication skills to let our members, as well as the public, know what is happening in the carbohydrate field and where we see opportunities to use carbohydrates in new ways.

In 2017, we welcomed two new industrial members to the Center - Kaleido Biosciences from Boston and Hayashibara Co. from Japan. We started a webinar series of talks, four a year, for our member companies and presented ones in 2017 on current thinking on the backbone model starch amylopectin structure and how it may better explain starch function (two presentations given by Prof. Eric Bertoft, visiting professor from Finland, with the second joined by myself), and a presentation on dietary fiber and the gut microbiome by Profs. Lindemann and Hamaker. These live talks are streamed to member companies with time for questions and discussion; the recordings are available on our "Members Only" part of the Whistler Center website. We also initiated a service for our member companies to conduct short-term research projects, including "proof-of-concept" studies that could set the stage for further joint work. We successfully conducted another three-day Whistler Center Short Course in early October, which has limited available slots for non-member participants.

Please take a few minutes and look through our 2017 Annual Report, including information about our faculty and staff and summaries of our research project areas as well as 2017 publications and public presentations. As always, feel free to contact Katherine Fry (Whistler Center Coordinator) or myself with any questions you might have.


Bruce R. Hamaker
Distinguished Professor of Food Science
Roy L. Whistler Chair