Director's Statement

Dr. Bruce R. Hamaker

Dr. Bruce R. Hamaker

Title
Director of Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research
Email
hamakerb@purdue.edu
Phone
(765) 494-5668

» More about Dr. Hamaker


Welcome to the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research annual report. In May 2016, at our annual meeting, we marked our 30th anniversary. Professor Philip Nelson, department head of Food Science, and Professor Roy Whistler started the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research in 1986. Professor James BeMiller became the founding director. Today, we are known for high-quality carbohydrate research, service to industry and the public, and our global reach.

Much has changed at the Whistler Center in three decades, and the same is true for the research and commercial environment related to food carbohydrates. One area that is taking off is gut microbiome and health. This frontier research field is beginning to show the mechanistic underpinnings to link the colon bacteria communities to development of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome diseases (diabetes), and even neurological diseases (Parkinson's disease.) Because dietary fibers are a main source of nutrients for the bacteria, there is the potential, through their use, for making favorable shifts to the gut microbiome to improve health.

At the Whistler Center, we, along with medical centers and partners in microbiology, have been working on fibers as prebiotics for such functions. As part of an initiative by Purdue University, the Department of Food Science obtained a new faculty position in gut microbial ecology, and in August we welcomed Steven Lindemann to the department and Whistler Center. Professor Lindemann's research targets the ways that dietary influences shape the gut microbiome and the effects of those shifts on health (such as inflammation and gut colonization by pathogens) with the goal of identifying dietary solutions to health problems. We are thrilled to have Steve join the Whistler Center and become part of our vibrant research team in this important area.

Consumers react quickly these days to new food options, and shifts in buying habits also change. We recognize this and, though much of our research is fundamental in scope, we work and conduct research to solve immediate or near-term problems encountered by companies. The 12 faculty members of the Whistler Center cover a broad range of expertise in uses of food carbohydrates related to structures and functions for texturizing properties, coatings, delivery materials, and improved health and well-being. We also work on carbohydrates and water relations, plant genetics, and process optimization. Our analytical service provides analysis and interpretation of complex carbohydrate structures and their functionality.

In 2016, we welcomed Nestlé (Nestlé Research Center-Lausanne) as an industrial member and Wendy Madore as the Whistler Center Coordinator. Wendy comes with a wealth of experience at different levels of Purdue administration. We were sorry to see colleagues and friends leave us in 2016: Professor Mario Ferruzzi to North Carolina State University (still an adjunct professor to the Center and department), Dr. Srinivas Janaswamy to South Dakota State University as a tenure-track faculty, and our previous Coordinator, Mikaela Allen, to a local community position. Please take some minutes to look through our 2016 Whistler Center annual report and see what we are up to. Feel free to contact Wendy or me with questions or for further information.

Sincerely,

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