We all know the world changes quickly nowadays, and that is certainly true in the realm of food carbohydrates. In areas of nutrition and health, carbohydrates in the diet are being viewed differently than before, and not always positively. From our vantage point, we think that carbohydrates, particularly glycemic ones, are viewed too simply and our research shows a complexity of qualities that is health related. Obviously, there are opportunities for better understanding of carbohydrates and their role in health and wellness, and there are a number of other functions of carbohydrates being uncovered at the Center that could improve things like drug and vaccine delivery, assemblages to create new fibrilar and globular macrostructures for creating textures or delivery of bioactives, predictive modeling of carbohydrate functionality, "green" modified starches, to name a few. We and our collaborators within and outside of Purdue work on large interdisciplinary topics involving carbohydrates as delivery systems, dietary fiber structures and targeted function in the gut microbiome, polyphenols and their role in glucose release and delivery to the body, carbohydrate synthesizing enzymes and creation on new structures and their function, and others. We want to be a principal "go-to" research center for investigating food carbohydrates and their functions, and I invite you to peruse through this report to see what we do. If there are items you find of interest, feel free to contact us.
We look to serve our member companies and we feel our interaction with them works best when strong research relationships develop. At our May annual meeting, we provide detailed research reports in the form of morning faculty presentations and an afternoon student/post-doc poster session. In 2015, we had 43 posters. On the second day of the event there is a half-day Technical Conference where the endowed Belfort Lecture is given. This year, Prof. Yong Cheng Shi from Kansas State University presented his fundamental and application-driven research "Modifying starches for nutritional and functional properties". This was complemented with lectures by Prof. Eric Bertoft (Åbo Akademi University, Finland) "Small differences in amylopectin fine structure may explain large functional differences of starch" and Prof. Keith Chadwick (Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy, Purdue University) "The role of surfaces in manufacturing drug polymer composite materials", and presentations from Whistler Center faculty. In the fall, we convene our Research Focus Group day-long meeting where, after faculty research updates, we listen to representatives from our member companies on priority areas they would like to see us work on, in the area of pre-competitive fundamental research. We then fund a small number of projects based on the generated topics list, such as strategies to obtain naturally modified starches and water relations with starch to realize improved and consistent starch properties related to texturants and digestion/health property. In October, we had our very successful yearly 3-day Whistler Center Short Course and had approximately 70 participants from our member companies. This free course covers the fundamentals of carbohydrate chemistry, structure and function on day 1, followed by 2 days of advanced topic sessions. This year we had an impressive 15 advanced sessions (see page 76) given by Whistler Center faculty and 4 outside speakers. In November, four Whistler Center faculty traveled to TNO in Zeist, Netherlands for a joint 2-day short course "Carbohydrate and Food Structure; Design for Healthy, Natural Products" conducted with their scientists and outside speakers. This was highly successful and we plan to continue this activity.
We were happy to have Prof. Joe Kokini join the Whistler Center in 2015. Joe holds the Scholle Chair in food process engineering in the Department of Food Science and brings a wealth of experience and research expertise to the Department and Center. He was department Chair at Rutgers University and Associate Dean of Research at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Internationally, in addition to our involvement with TNO mentioned above, we have active formal partnerships between the Whistler Center and Sejong University, South Korea and Jiangnan University, China; and individual faculty visiting professorships at Monterrey Tech (O. Campanella) and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (B. Hamaker).
If you have any questions or would like to know more about our Center, feel free to contact either myself or Wendy Madore, Administrative Coordinator.
Bruce R. Hamaker
Distinguished Professor of Food Science
Roy L. Whistler Chair