By Tom Campbell
Professor of food and nutrition sciences Mario Ferruzzi will receive the Purdue University 2013 Agricultural Research Award for his work in helping to improve food quality and human health and to reduce chronic disease.
The award is given each year to a faculty member in the College of Agriculture with less than 18 years of experience beyond a doctoral degree. It is for scientists who have demonstrated a high level of excellence in research and made significant contributions to agriculture, natural resources and quality of life for Indiana citizens.
Ferruzzi has dual appointments in the College of Agriculture Department of Food Science and the College of Health and Human Sciences Department of Nutrition Science.
“Mario has made exceptional contributions to understanding how food matrix and processing factors affect nutrient absorption from our food, and his work can lead to the further development of functional foods to improve human health,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “He is most deserving of our college's top research award.”
Ferruzzi will receive the award Monday (May 13) at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the Deans Auditorium at Pfendler Hall on the West Lafayette campus.
A faculty member since 2004, Ferruzzi says the award is an acknowledgment of the many team efforts he feels fortunate to be a part of.
“This is an individual award that is not individual in any way,” said Ferruzzi. “We don’t write grants in isolation, we don’t do research in isolation, and we don’t even get ideas in isolation anymore.
“Collectively, we can do a lot of really good things together. I’m a prime example of that. I’ve made good decisions about the areas I’ve worked on, about how we’ve worked on them and how we’ve pursued the funding, and this award says good things about the collaborations I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.”
Ferruzzi’s work will help the food industry develop products with improved nutritional and functional quality, said Karen Plaut, associate dean and director of agricultural research at Purdue.
“Dr. Ferruzzi’s research has an impact on fundamental and applied aspects of both food science and nutrition as he works to identify strategies that will contribute to improving human health and reducing chronic disease risk,” she said.
Ferruzzi’s expertise has helped him develop and apply analytical methods for quantifying bioactive food components and phytochemicals in food, and assessing their bioavailability and distribution to body tissues. His findings have improved the understanding of the role that phytochemicals can have on human health, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
After completing his master’s degree (1998) and doctorate (2001) in food science and nutrition at The Ohio State University, Ferruzzi spent nearly three years in product research and development with Nestlé in the United States and Switzerland before joining the Purdue faculty.